Performers get ready to premiere an in-person spring musical

Performers get ready to premiere an in-person spring musical

Divya Rajan , Hard News Editor

   With the change in season, students and faculty know that the moment many of them have been waiting for the whole year is finally approaching—the spring musical. As the musical nears, students involved in all aspects of it are preparing to make the first in-person WHS Theater Company (T.Co) musical in three years a worthwhile experience to watch. Students and faculty are passionate about presenting the musical, “Chicago: High School Edition.”

    “I am extremely excited to do a show that most people know. I chose it largely because it offers a lot of roles and it gives a ton of work for the ensemble to do,” drama director Anne Isaacs said. “After we didn’t do live, in-person performances last year, I was hoping that it would be a musical name that would bring a lot of people to see it in person.”

   The in-person aspect of the spring musical is an exciting element of this experience for many students in the show. 

   “I’m pretty excited. This is going to be my first time performing live since Covid. I do feel a little out of practice, but I’ve always loved performing, so just getting any opportunity to do that is really fun,” junior Trevor Gold said. “And when I was a kid, I saw ‘Chicago.’ It left a pretty big impression on me. It was one of the first musicals I saw, so I’m really happy to be doing it too.”

   Among the various plays WHS performs during the year, the spring musical is a special experience as it combines the teamwork of WHS musicians and actors. To enhance the musical, band and orchestra students play live for the actors.   

   “I think it’s a really unique experience. We don’t have, built into our performance calendar, a lot of opportunities for our ensembles to collaborate to this degree. Your pit is going to have string players, horn players, woodwind players, and percussionists. Your acting ensemble is going to be actors, singers, and dancers. And then we’ve got our whole technical crew that’s also working there,” Isaacs said. “So all together, it’s 50 to 60 students typically who each have their own specialty but have to work together to make it all happen.”

   In order for the musical to be performed in May, students involved in it have to devote their time to group rehearsals and individual practice.

   “There’s a lot of practice involved in preparation, and I think it does stretch kids to a new level,” music department director and conductor of the music pit, Christopher Memoli, said.

   With the amalgamation of actors and musicians, the preparations for the musical are unique compared to other performances of T.Co. 

   “Our spring musical process is quite different from all our others, as we only have about eight or nine weeks for the whole process. We do auditions in January, while we are rehearsing our winter show, so we are cast and are able to use the time prior to rehearsals to learn solo music,” junior Sofia Desio explained. “We start our rehearsals in the beginning of March, then our musical is performed the first week of May. To prepare for the rehearsals, soloists typically use the time to meet with Mr. Eldridge to learn their music. They also use that time to start memorizing their lines.”

   By participating in the musical, students can learn various life lessons through the numerous components of the musical experience. 

   “The theater is a place where most important life skills can be really trained and honed, and even just taught. When it comes to presenting in public and in front of your peers, when it comes to working together to fulfill a collaborative goal, it’s a really good place to work on those human skills; the life skills, the cooperative skills, the communication skills,” WMS and WHS music teacher Jonathan Eldridge said. “Being able to present oneself in public is a skill that everyone’s gonna need for their entire life, and what better place to do it than the theater?” 

   The musical also allows students to better their performing skills by utilizing the life lessons they absorb. 

   The musical process is “a lot about teamwork. A huge, huge part of acting, singing and even dancing, especially in a school musical setting, is not only relying on other people but performing in a way that makes your classmates better and that is, I think, a really valuable lesson to learn—performing not only for yourself, but for someone else,” Gold said.

   Students can expand their knowledge about different art forms as they interact with peers from various art expertises during the musical experience. 

   “I think the most important lesson that the musical brings is how to work well with others that you may not necessarily work with otherwise. The musical isn’t just made up of people who do all three plays, so you get to experience the process with people you wouldn’t normally,” Desio said. “It’s a large group of people trying to work together to put on an amazing production, and I love that about the musical.” 

   Overall, the spring musical is a medium that allows for students with a variety of interests to participate in it, leading to an increase in collaboration among students and faculty. 

   “A musical is, in any high school, the one activity that really brings together the entire arts department; performing, visual, dramatic arts, musical arts, and tech art,” WMS and WHS band teacher Claire Nalven said. “We have people singing, acting, we have set design and lighting, we have performing musicians. I think it’s a very cool way for the school to showcase all that we do.” 

   Students and faculty can purchase tickets online at the website:  https://www.showtix4u.com/event-details/63627. “Chicago” will be performed live in the WHS auditorium from Thursday, May 5 through Saturday, May 7 at 7 p.m.  Those participating in the show feel confident that it will be a positive experience for all involved.

   “The spring musical is a highlight of the year. The collaboration piece is awesome, working with the singers and accompanying them, and putting it all together. It’s a collaboration and it’s just a lot of fun,” Memoli said.