High school musical hits the Eccles Center’s stage
Every night after school since late August, the cast and crew of Park City High School’s upcoming musical, "How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," have been practicing for their premiere on Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. in the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.
The show stars junior Hayden Bush as Finch, a young window washer who buys the book, "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." Finch follows the book’s advice and joins the multinational "World Wide Wicket Company" and, with the book’s help, he climbs the corporate ladder, encountering challenges, romance, deceit and admiration along the way.
"I chose this play because I knew it and had performed in it before," Nicole Madison, the theater teacher at PCHS, said. "It can use a big cast, and it’s a great story."
While the play was cast last May, students did not receive their scripts or start rehearsals until the beginning of the school year. Madison said they started by learning choreography and music first, and then got more involved with the script later on.
Ciara Murano-Steele, the high school’s dance teacher, taught the choreography, and Camille Kleparek, the school’s music teacher, worked on the choral components.
Madison uses her background as a professional actor and singer to help kids learn about the theater business and how much time and dedication is involved, especially for students who have expressed an interest in pursuing this type of career after high school.
"I want them to have fun, but also learn professionalism," she said. "I am positive and optimistic, but also very direct and honest with the kids."
Madison said the students are doing an exceptional job. "It is a big show, and there was a lot for the kids to learn."
But it’s not just learning singing and dancing. "There are great opportunities for them, from sound to lighting," Dave Hallock, the musical’s production manager, said. "There are so many elements that go into a performance like this."
The play’s set was designed entirely by senior Robert O’Donnell. "He’s been doing a lot of design work with me," Hallock said. O’Donnell won the portfolio and overall technician awards in the 2007 Utah Shakespearean Festival.
Hallock teaches a stage tech class where the kids worked on all the technical aspects of the show. They created the musical’s scenery with some construction help from Hallock.
But once the lights go down, "the students are responsible for all aspects of the show," he said. From production to music to performance, "It’s all done by students."
Hallock has been pleased with how smoothly everything has been going this year. "We are usually still trying to work out some technical difficulties at this point," he said. "The kids are doing a wonderful job. They work so hard and always pull it together."
Being part of the pit orchestra is another behind-the-scenes role students can play. "I tell the kids that if the audience doesn’t notice you, then you’re doing a good job," Chris Taylor, the high school band director, said.
Taylor has been working with students after school twice a week for the past six weeks, helping them learn a manuscript and, for some, also learning how to play a new instrument, which is called learning doubles. "It’s mainly with the woodwind track," he said.
For many students, this is the first time they’ve ever played in a pit, and many of them are playing in keys they are not used to, which can have a big effect on them, Taylor said. Playing in the pit is also challenging for the students because they don’t really know what’s going on onstage, and it’s hard to hear each other.
Taylor said that a few years back during dress rehearsal, one student cooked a bratwurst on his music stand light, which gets pretty hot. He said something like that might happen again this year. "We have a good time down there," he said.
Madison said the theatre, dance and music departments collaborate little in the beginning, but then really come together and practice about a week before the premiere.
"We just keep working like crazy to put out the best production we can," said Hallock.
The musical will run at the Eccles Center from Nov. 8 – 10, at 7 p.m., with a special matinee at 2 p.m. on Nov. 10. The cost is $7 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens.
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Buses, trains and gondolas doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but they make up the transit alternatives for the mountain transportation system the Central Wasatch Commission is trying to create, mostly in the Cottonwood canyons.