By Betsy Raison
About 50 members of the Noblesville High School cast sing and dance to the songs they grew up with.
25 other members of the production team, dressed in black, take care of the backstage chores, moving sets between dance scenes, helping with makeup and costumes.
Two NHS professors, five music students and a recent NHS graduate perform live music from the production in the orchestra pit.
A former singer and NHS graduate who went on to design shows and rides for Walt Disney World and Universal Studios and ran a theater company in Orlando, Florida, does all the choreography.
An NHS student who was chosen as a pianist at East High actually plays the piano in her role.
And the roar of a sewing machine is heard from behind the auditorium as the former NHS student dressmaker mom is busy finishing last-minute costumes.
These are the scenes for the weekend dress rehearsals on Technology Saturday in preparation for Thursday’s opening night of the NHS fall musical, “High School Musical.”
“We have, of course, a show. Thank goodness with these crazy times… It’s been a struggle… We are really grateful that we were able to put one on this year, ”said new NHS deputy choir director Shannan (O’Dowd) Masten after the school Monday during one of the show’s dress rehearsals.
NHS brings to life Disney’s 2007 hit musical, from Music Theater International, based on the 2006 Disney Channel hit film starring Troy, Gabriella, Sharpay and Ryan and all of the East High students and teachers who deal with issues of first love, friends and family while balancing their classes and extracurricular activities.
The NHS musical is on stage at 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Saturday in the NHS auditorium. Tickets are still available, with special rates for middle school and senior mornings.
“The cast is awesome. These kids are all kids who wanted to be here, ”Masten said. “… They’re all dedicated, Lauren very emotionally attached to each other and to the show at this point.” “
That’s because “it’s a story they all know,” she said. “It was fun to put together. And thank goodness it all falls into place.
The students are familiar with music, considering the film was released in 2006, the year most sophomores in the musical, including my daughter, were born.
While most of the main characters – Anna Schlueter as Gabriella, Rohn as Sharpay and Aaron Krent as Ryan, Maddie Durst as Taylor (as well as Laura Wertz as Mrs. Darbus and Dominic Jones as Coach Bolton) – are older people, the male characters Principal, Troy, is played by junior Maddux Morrison, and Chad is played by junior Aidan Johnston. Additionally, freshmen Nicholas Sizelove plays Jack Scott and Nolan Campbell plays Ripper.
Of all the cast members, it’s very interesting how perfectly senior NHS pianist Kari Verdeyen has been portrayed as East High songwriter and pianist Kelsi Neilson. Verdeyen plays the piano on stage in his role.
“It’s ironic that she was so good at the piano because she ended up being perfect for the role,” Masten said. “It made the show so much more realistic that she is able to play the piano on stage. It’s awesome.
Other talented musicians include the High School Musical Pit Players, David Hartman, NHS Conductor and Guitar Teacher David Hartman, on Guitar 2; NHS piano teacher Carrie Caine on piano, NHS students Madolyn Jarrett and Abby Gibbons on keyboard 2, Brett Lush on bass, Aidan Board 2020 NHS graduate on drums, Ella Feliciano on percussion and Sam Johnson on guitar 1.
“The band started working together on our music in early October,” Hartman said. They had a sitzprobe (rehearsal where singers sing with the orchestra) on November 6 and performed in the orchestra pit of the auditorium from Monday to Saturday from November 8.
“This musical went quite smoothly for the band and was fun for me to conduct and play a part of the guitar,” Hartman said Monday. This is his 30th year in the NHS and for this performance he is the director of the Pit Band.
Masten said, “If you have the talent available and the funding, to be able to do it, by any means, you should still have a living pit. Hartman is ridiculously talented… It helps that they are familiar with the music, but they are also so good.
During Saturday’s rehearsal, Kerin Meyer, an NHS special education teacher, was busy working on her sewing machine in the back of the auditorium, making waist pockets for members’ wireless mics distribution and make last minute changes. Her children are both already graduates. “I am an adopted member of the music department,” she said. Meyer is technically the costume designer. “But for this show, there have been a lot more orders and purchases at Goodwill,” she said. Meyer primarily approves a look or suggests adjustments. On Monday, she was still working on waist pouches and running an errand at Hobby Lobby.
“For this show, a good chunk of the costumes came from the student closets,” said show director, NHS choir director John Neubauer. “It’s not difficult for a high school student to play a high school student.” The cheerleaders and basketball players and a few others in the show received costumes from school… It’s hard to get kids to dress up in a variety of different looks. But we are getting there.
Neubauer is satisfied with the quality of the program.
“The students and the production team are thrilled with the development of the show, the individual confidence that emerges on stage, the ability of the actors to follow instructions, ad lib when something doesn’t go quite perfectly,” and their ability to put everything in place. “said Neubauer.
So what does it take to put together this musical? “Patience,” he said. “This is true for almost any production, but a staged musical is definitely a long-term vision situation. Some days are going well. Others less well. His goal was to be “rock solid” last Saturday, with Monday, Tuesday and today “to put that extra icing on the cake and get ready for a great race”.
Neubauer loves the show, which he describes as “light and fun”. He said: “The story is well known, especially to high school age students. Students are expected to develop characters, but they certainly know people exactly like the characters they play.
Neubauer said: “The characters are fun and varied. The story is cute and pokes fun at the importance of everything going on in high school seems like a big deal back then. The students found the humor as their characters were built. They brought the storyline to life with their own interpretations. It’s awesome and fun.
The biggest challenges? “The NHS is a very busy school,” Neubauer said. “Between the cast being busy students and the current health situation, we almost always have someone away. Leads to relearning. But we are as efficient as possible.
The district mask requirement has been dropped for actors while they are on stage. Off stage, artists will be masked at all times. Masks are recommended and optional for spectators of the show.
The production team are “incredibly lucky” to have Shantel Morris, a 1991 NHS graduate and former NHS singer, as the choreographer of the show. “She challenges the students with terrific and effective choreography,” said Neubauer. “She teaches it really well and makes all the actors look as professional as they can get. The students are definitely tired. It is demanding. But with time and determination, students will succeed.
The show is also fortunate to have Greg Richards, a longtime NHS theater production professor, who designed the set and lighting. “His class does a lot of work,” Neubauer said. “The painting. The decoration. Then comes the lighting to make a film work in a real and scenic situation.
And Jay Jasper, the NHS guitar teacher, who also teaches AP music theory and recording arts classes, is having a great time making the sound for the show.
Neubauer has never produced this musical before. “The whole team discussed many different shows, and we decided it was a good time for this moment. The characters are known and loved. The message in the end is enlightening and unifying. This is something we need after the school year of last year.
Masten said, as she arrived as the new teacher after selecting the title for the show, she added, “Personally, I’m glad we picked this. After the two years that we had, they wanted to choose something that feels good, that everyone knows. Of course, more of “We’re All In This Together (song)” comes closer to “Stronger Together,” which is the school theme this year. “
She said: ‘Weaving our way out of Covid and getting back on stage, it’s just an overall positive show, a familiar show and a feel good show, which we need. We badly need it this year.
-Contact Betsy Reason at [email protected]
Want to go:
What: The Noblesville High School “High School Musical” production.
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday with preferential rates.
Where: Noblesville High School Auditorium, 18000 Cumberland Road, Noblesville.
How much: $ 12; $ 6 for college students and seniors for the morning only.
Tickets: online at https://search.seatyourself.biz/webstore/accounts/nhscpo/buy-ti