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Not the same old song and dance: Area high schools to present musicals this weekend

Staff writers

Goessel, Hillsboro, Marion, and Peabody-Burns high schools will each present a musical production this weekend.

The reason for the sudden rush of theater is “buffer week” — a week between football regular season and the start of basketball practice. The week provides the best opportunity to finish and present the shows.

An ambitious theatergoer could see all four shows because HHS opens Thursday night, and MHS and PBHS close Sunday afternoon. An adult attending all four plays would pay $20 total for tickets at the door.

Marion High School

Marion High School cast members of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” are primed and ready for their upcoming performance of the musical.

The musical presents a unique set of challenges because it has very few spoken lines.

“A lot of people don’t think you have to act if it is all singing,” musical director Janet Killough said. “But we still have to work on facial expressions and on character development.”

Killough said that she wanted to give her actors an opportunity to do something different, and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” definitely qualifies as different.

“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” also features songs that draw from a cornucopia of modern musical influences.

“There’ll be one scene where it’s a western, another scene that is Calypso,” Killough said. “Each song is its own little story.”

Killough said that most of the first practices were just singing and that the stage movements and choreographed numbers had to be gradually integrated into practices.

The musical is male oriented because it is based on the interactions between Joseph and his eleven brothers. The number of female parts is small; the leading girls in the show are the four narrators — senior Emily Meador, sophomore Caroline Collett, freshman Monica Spachek, and freshman Jennifer Freuchting — who sing the plot to the audience.

“This is a boys’ show,” Killough said. “All the fun numbers star the guys.”

Despite the inexperience of much of the cast, Killough has been impressed with their performances. She said the group of boys who play Joseph’s brothers — a group that varies greatly in age — has sung well and taken direction well. She also said that the freshmen in the play, especially those who have big parts like narrators Spachek and Freuchting, have performed admirably so far.

Senior Brady Hudson plays Joseph and is on stage for almost the entire show. Killough worked with Hudson and her other senior actors during the planning of the show to gage their level interest. Once she knew they were excited, she used the seniors to persuade some of the younger cast members to come around.

“At first they weren’t crazy about this,” Killough said. “But they have really made it their own.”

Goessel High School

Directors Derrick Birdsell and Renae Peters have a cast and crew of 68 students involved in “Brigadoon.”

The musical tells the story of a pair of American brothers who discover a village in the Scottish highlands that only appears for one day every century.

“Brigadoon” was selected because the solo parts are manageable, although the harmonies are challenging, Birdsell said. It is also one of the less common musicals for a high school to perform.

“It’s not something everybody knows,” he said.

Rehearsals have been about three hours, two or three times weekly, as well as choir class time each school day.

“They’ve done very well,” Birdsell said.

The script requires a lot of memorization compared to some musicals. Students have also learned choreography well, he said.

Senior Bryant Miller will play Tommy Albright, one of the American brothers. He appeared in the school’s 2008 production of “Oklahoma!”

Rehearsing late on nights before football games has been the hardest part of the musical, he said, but he is happy he is involved.

“It’s been fun,” Miller said. “I really like the setting and how there are a lot of minor characters that have key roles in it.

“Along with a lot of excitement, it has a mystery to it,” he said. “And the music is really good.”

Hillsboro High School

Hillsboro High School is going beyond the well-known musicals to present “Working,” a tribute to underappreciated workers.

The show’s obscurity has advantages and disadvantages, director Lynn Just said. It can be good, because audience members aren’t as likely to have preconceived notions of how the musical should be. On the other hand, a familiar show often will draw more audience members.

The musical features an ensemble cast of 20 and a crew of four. Sophomore Olivia Kliewer plays third-grade teacher Rose Hoffman and likes the choice of the musical.

“I like that everybody gets a chance in the spotlight,” she said.

The music is upbeat and more modern compared to many other musicals, Kliewer said. She has fun with her role.

“I get to act kind of goofy,” she said.

Finding costumes has been easier than most years because everyday clothes compose most of the costumes.

Accompaniment is provided by five musicians. Just said she prefers live music over recordings, because live music gives an opportunity to improvise if an actor makes a mistake.

Peabody-Burns High School

Director Steven Glover and a cast and crew of 34 students will present “Fiddler on the Roof” at Peabody-Burns High School.

The 1964 musical is set in 1905 in a small Jewish village in Russia. Struggling to maintain tradition is an important theme of the play.

Glover said he tries to keep the talents of likely cast members in mind when selecting a musical. He chose “Fiddler on the Roof” because he thought it would be a good match for his students.

Senior Chris Loucks said getting into character as the dairyman Tevye is easier than other roles he has had.

“This play, I like how I can really get into this character,” he said.

“It’s a good play to do,” senior Joshua Klarmann said. “It shows what it was like for Jewish people in Russia.” Klarmann plays Motel, a poor tailor. He said the musical includes a lot of songs, but dialogue is just as important. PBHS has a unique challenge producing a musical, because the school doesn’t have a permanent stage. The school set up a portable stage in the high school gymnasium Friday.

“It’s definitely harder having only one week on stage,” senior Julie Wedel said.

The cast practiced in a classroom before the stage was available, she said. Wedel portrays Shaindel, Motel’s mother.

Community members helped with set construction and finding props, Glover said. Parents found many of the props for the production, and help from local carpenter Tim Caldwell was vital for set construction.

Show times and tickets

  • Goessel High School presents “Brigadoon,” 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday in GHS auditorium. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students through grade 12 and senior citizens. Tickets are available at the high school office or by calling (620) 367-2242.
  • Hillsboro High School presents “Working,” 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in HHS auditorium. Tickets are $5 and are available at the high school office.
  • Marion High School presents “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at USD 408 Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $3 for adults and $2 for children 12 or younger. Tickets can be purchased at The County Seat Decorating Center, 130 E. Main St., Marion.
  • Peabody-Burns High School presents “Fiddler on the Roof,” 7 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at Peabody-Burns High School. Tickets are $5 in advance or $7 at the door. Tickets can be purchased from Glover and cast members or at the high school office.

Last modified Nov. 10, 2009

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