Showcasing talents of assembly acts


Performers strut their stuff for school administrators :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

photo courtesy of David Fisher Acrobatic jump roper David Fisher credits much of his success to Showcase, a conference that brings together performers and school, library and park administrators.

Lloyd Bachrach of Chicago has given motivational speeches in front of officials from the Chicago Board of Education, the University of Chicago and the U.S. Department of Transportation, but that resume wouldn't have gotten him onstage at a school assembly.

That's why, for the past 10 years, Bachrach has been going to Skokie each fall to attend Showcase, a Chicago area conference that allows performers to advertise their acts to nearly 600 school, library and park administrators.

About 120 acts are expected to appear at Showcase this year on Sept. 8 and 9. Anyone hiring performers for assemblies or community performances-or anyone who just wants to check out the show-can watch the acts, speak with the performers and hire their favorites.

"It's the best way for someone who does school assemblies to market themselves in the Chicagoland area," says David Fisher, an acrobatic jump roper who credits Showcase-not his performances for President George W. Bush and former President Bill Clinton-for his success in booking close to 700 shows a year.

"School assemblies are the staple of my business, and I do most of my shows in Chicago or the suburbs of Chicago. Showcase is the best way that I found to market myself here," Fisher says.

Showcase was created 27 years ago, when schools were having troubling finding quality performers and the quality performers were having trouble marketing themselves to the schools, says Pat Adams, Showcase coordinator.

At Showcase, most of the performers set up booths explaining and demonstrating their act. Thirty-six performers who audition ahead of time for Showcase officials are allowed to perform eight minutes of their act on stage, giving them more exposure to the buyers.

The performers pay $250 to set up a booth at Showcase and the attendees pay $75 to watch. The rest is up to the mingling abilities and quick decisions of the school officials, many of whom hire the performers on the spot to appear at their assemblies throughout the year.

Sylvia Caluris, fine arts chairwoman for the Immaculate Conception School in Norwood Park, says she has attended Showcase for the past six years, and she books the performers for her school assemblies every year from those she likes at Showcase.

"We look for more of an educational, historical program," Caluris says. "I find myself the whole time on the phone with my principal, saying, ‘should I lock them in now?' I have nothing but the highest, highest, highest praise for Showcase."

Showcase will be held Sept. 8 and 9 at the North Shore Center of the Performing Arts in Skokie. For more information, call (847) 679-9501, ext. 3100, or visit Danielle Braff


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