Susan Olsen stands in front of the floor-to-ceiling mirror, her body twisted in a corkscrew shape, and explains a movement that's been giving fits to a diverse group of dancers.
"It's like ... just think that you have to unpretzel your body," Olsen says before demonstrating a whirling turn and jump.
The dancers nod and get ready to give the routine another go, but some look unsure they can pull it off. One says: "I'm going to need lots more water after this."
More than 30 people auditioned Saturday for dancing roles in "Lunacy," an original musical that will open in May at Naperville's North Central College. Olsen, a Naperville resident and veteran Chicago-area stage performer, is the musical's choreographer and director.
The hopefuls at Saturday's auditions included boys and girls, young children and moms trying to get back into the dancing game. None of them are looking to be superstars; they just like performing.
"I've always enjoyed musical theater," said Darien resident Malinee Ganahl, adding that she hasn't danced since her college days 15 years ago. "I felt pretty good out there today."
Saturday's audition was even more fun than usual for Ganahl because her 11-year-old daughter, Autumn, was with her.
"It's really nice to be introducing this whole thing now to my daughter," Ganahl said.
"Lunacy" was created by writer (and North Central alum) Matt Boresi and composer Jonathon Lynch. The action takes place at the end of the Civil War, when a group of Americans tries to launch a projectile to the moon. It's a comedic take on the "steampunk" genre, which combines elements of science fiction with 19th-century settings.
"I think this qualifies as the first steampunk musical!" Olsen said.
"Lunacy" is an original work, one that hasn't been performed before. Olsen said there's a chance it could have theatrical life beyond North Central College.
"That's one thing that is so exciting about this," she said. "Community theater usually gets stuff that's already been done over and over. With 'Lunacy,' we at NCC will be the first."
The dancers who auditioned for roughly 16 parts in the production came in Saturday without knowing what they'd be asked to do. Olsen introduced them to a snippet of music from the play and then demonstrated the complicated series of moves that goes with it. The group practiced the routine for a while, then it was showtime.
"Well, I think I could have done better," said Justin Rosado, a junior at Benet Academy in Lisle, after the auditions. "It would have been nice to know more about the music ahead of time, but that's the nature of the beast. I did have fun, though."
Voice auditions for "Lunacy" were held Saturday night, also. Callbacks will take place today. The musical is scheduled to open on May 20.