Miss Freeport in Chicago’s annual Stages

Miss Freeport 2003 Michelle Maves met Chicago Cubs legendary announcer Harry Carey when she was 11. It was her second time singing the National Anthem before thousands of fans at Wrigley Field.

“I remember I was warming up before the game and he walked by,” Maves, now 19, said. “He stopped and said, ‘What the hell’s going on here—the game hasn’t started yet.’ And then he stopped and I had my picture taken with him. I think at the time I didn’t realize it was as big of a deal as it was.”

Maves will be returning to Chicago this weekend, Aug. 8-10, to perform in a new musical, Lewis and Clark, Discovered, at Theatre Building Chicago as part of the 10th Anniversary Stages event. Stages is a three-day event featuring eight new musicals written in the United States.

The Chicago Tribune wrote of the Stages event, “A long-standing incubator of premier musical works… people in the industry all accross the country are finally beginning to notice.”

Lewis and Clark, Discovered, written by Arthur Kopit with music and lyrics by Alan Siegal, is described as “A musical tale of dreams and disillusionment, this history revolves around the Corps of Discovery and the adventurous Americans of a very young United States.”

Maves said she’s looking forward to the first performance and said working on the project is exciting because they’re the first to perform the musical.

Maves, now a sophomore musical theater and commuincations major at North Central College in Naperville, has been performing publicly since age 3 when she played a part in the Wizard of Oz. She got her first taste of musicals in fourth grade when a teacher brought in the soundtrack to Phantom of the Opera. Maves instantly fell in love with the musical, which is still her favorite. “It was like nothing I’d ever heard before,” she said.

At age 10, Maves had one of her first stage performances in Sound of Music at Highland Community College in Freeport. “From that point on, I’ve just kind of known that I wanted to do musical theater,” Maves said.

Since that time, Maves has performed in numerous musicals, plays and concerts, drawing large crowds of devoted fans. Maves even won a contest that gave her the opportunity to sing in concert with country music star Shania Twain at the Rockford MetroCentre. Although she said she’s never gotten stagefright, Maves said singing with the country diva made her knees shake a little.

“It was really exciting,” Maves said of singing with Twain. “She actually sang backup for me. It was really intimidating. It was the only time I can honestly say that I was nervous.”

Maves recently finished in the top 10 at the Miss Illinois Pageant, her first pageant competition. She said although she didn’t know exactly what to expect, she’s pleased with her performance.

“It’s a different atmosphere, especially when you’re being judged,” Maves said. “And that’s kind of hard to get used to. It was a lot of preparation, so it’s a lot of work and responsibility, too, because if you do get crowned you’re representing the entire state. But right now it’s like I had a lot of fun and I enjoyed the experience, but I don’t know if that’s really what I want to do.”

Maves, who chose organ and tissue donation as her platform, said the state competition next year will require all participants to select youth violence prevention as their platforms. “That’s a good thing [youth violence prevention] but not for me because I do care about organ donation,” she said.

Maves said she chose organ and tissue donation partly because of her father, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma a couple years ago. “It’s something that makes you think this could be me, this could be one of my friends, this could be my family,” Maves said.

For now, Maves said she’s going to concentrate on her theatrical career and worry about pageants in the future. She is also scheduled to perform at On the Waterfront Aug. 29-31, after being named a 2003 Best of Rockford winner.

Maves said her dream role is still to play the leading role in the musical she fell in love with in fourth grade—Christine Grannam in Phantom of the Opera.

“Someday I hope to be on the national tour in Phantom,” Maves said. “So we’ll see. I want to move to New York and do theater.”

Tickets for the Stages event are $15 at the door of each show or $85 in advance for all shows. For more information, contact the Theatre Building Chicago, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago, IL 60657-3205, by phone at 773-327-5252 or online at www.theatrebuildingchicago.org.

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