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From 'Jukebox' to 'Macbeth,' it's a busy time of year at Marriotts Ridge

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Jake Lubbehusen, 14, a freshman at Marriotts Ridge High School, sat in the school's darkened auditorium on a recent Tuesday afternoon, a laptop and several textbooks open in front of him. About two dozen students were rehearsing a dance number on stage, and Jake was doing his homework.

Jake is in the ensemble for "Jukebox," the student-led musical revue held each fall at Marriotts Ridge. And like many other students in "Jukebox," and he's also in the school's fall play, "Macbeth," in the role of Donalbain.

It was already after 5 p.m., and Jake would be at the school for several more hours, since "Macbeth" rehearsals begin after "Jukebox" rehearsals end.

"It's definitely a lot of work," he said, "but it's more fun than it is stressful. It's a lot of fun."

Jake said he has wanted to be in "Jukebox" since he was in middle school.

"Ever since sixth grade, when I saw the first 'Jukebox,' I said, 'I will do this,' " he said.

While local high schools have a fall play and a spring musical, Marriotts Ridge High School may be the only one with a third show on the calendar.

"Jukebox" was created in 2005, the year Marriotts Ridge opened. Since there were only freshmen and sophomores that first year, no spring musical was planned, said Sally Livingston, the school's theater teacher.

"Jukebox" was held in the spring the first year, then in winter, and for the past six years it has been in the fall.

"I think we are the only people who do two full-scale productions in the fall," Livingston said.

"It's something that is very much a part of the Marriotts Ridge identity," said Ben Bott, 17, a senior.

This is his fourth "Jukebox," and also the fourth year he has rehearsed for the fall play at the same time. This year, he has the title role in "Macbeth," which means on Tuesdays and Thursdays he rehearses for "Jukebox," then rehearses for "Macbeth," and doesn't get home till nearly 9 p.m.

"It's a lot of work to do and that's on top of AP (advanced placement) courses and college applications," he said.

"Jukebox" features 14 songs chosen by students to represent a diversity of eras and musical styles. Students arrange the choreography, write a script that ties together the songs, and provide the band.

The process begins the previous spring, when a student committee begins picking the songs, based in part on "if we have the people who can sing them," said Anna Wehr, 17, a senior who is on the committee and is also performing in both "Jukebox" and "Macbeth."

Auditions take place over the summer, and rehearsals begin before school starts. This year, between 80 and 90 students auditioned, and 63 made the cut, said Livingston. There also are 16 students in the band, which is on a platform on the stage throughout the performance, and 15 stage crew members. The vast majority of students in "Jukebox" also are in the fall play, said Livingston.

Joey Antico, 17, a senior, plays the drums for "Jukebox" and also leads the percussion section for the marching band. He likes that the "Jukebox" band is led by students, with a wide range of songs.

"You'll go from a crazy house techno band to swing," he said. "It's up to the students to pick apart the song and make it better."

After Jukebox ends its three-performance run on Oct. 20, rehearsals will move into high gear for "Macbeth" (Nov. 15-18).

"It's pretty crazy," said Rachel Hanon, 17, a senior, who is playing Lady Macbeth in the fall play and also is in "Jukebox."

"It's good, though. It's a good kind of busy," Rachel said. "I'm with people I like and doing things I like, so it's not a chore,"

She said her mother, Lynn Hanon, who is making costumes for the two productions, often brings her dinner on nights she is at school for both rehearsals.

Sarah Roberts, 17, a senior, is another student who has participated in both the fall play and Jukebox every year of her high school career. This year, for the second time, she is the stage manager for Jukebox, responsible for such details as blocking the set, handling schedules and calling the cues.

"It's an awesome experience," she said.

But she admitted: "It freaks out our parents a little bit when we tell them we're going to be at school for 14 hours."

"Jukebox" runs Oct. 18, 19 and 20 at 7 p.m. at Marriotts Ridge High School, 12100 Woodford Drive, Marriottsville. Tickets can be purchased at http://www.seatyourself.biz/marriottsridge.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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