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Manchester Valley high school to perform fall musical

Junior Julian Schoming and senior Emma Shipley sing together during a rehearsal of Manchester Valley High School's production of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" on Nov. 5.
Junior Julian Schoming and senior Emma Shipley sing together during a rehearsal of Manchester Valley High School's production of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" on Nov. 5. (Photo By Bethany Ziegler , Carroll County Times)

The halls of Manchester Valley High School will be filled with the sound of music at the end of the week, as it presents the county's only fall musical, "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying."

With most county high schools featuring a play in the fall and a musical in the spring, Drama Teacher and Director Bobbie Vinson said this year she decided to switch the formula and lead off the year with the more demanding show.

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"To me it's a whole different beast," Vinson said.

Staging a full musical meant that the cast needed to start preparing three weeks earlier than they would have with a play, beginning rehearsals the second full week of the school year.

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"I like to give them time with the choreographer and the musical director first," Vinson said. "When we start rehearsal I want them to get the vocals under wraps and the dances started before we even bring working with the lines."

For some, like junior Julian Schoming, who will be playing the show's lead character, J. Pierrepont Finch, preparation for the show started even before that.

"I started singing the songs at the beginning of the summer because I wanted to know what this character was about," Schoming said.

The addition of singing and dancing also meant bringing in additional help, like choreographer Curtis Brothers. Brothers, a volunteer and graduate of Winters Mill High School, said doing a musical adds a new degree of difficulty.

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"The music is also the dialogue. And adding the dances to it especially is a lot harder," Brothers said.

Choreography is a big part of this show that the cast members, of which there are 45, are pretty excited about, according to Brothers.

"I have people dancing on desks; I have them dancing on tables," Brothers said. "With a musical like this, since it's set in the '60s, I kind of had a '60s style dancing in there but I also modernized it a lot."

Preparing this show has been a lot of work for both its actors and its organizers, with rehearsals being for a few hours after school every day that schools were in session, and a few Saturdays too.

"The rehearsal process when you don't have a large part can be long and drawn out, but they're a terrific group and I feel like they've done well, worked well together, and even down to the smallest part tried to create character," Vinson said. "It's a lot more time management and a lot for the kids to pull together all at once."

Doing a musical even makes the audition process more complicated, Brothers said.

"With plays you do reading with other people from the script and that kind of thing, but with a musical you have to go through a singing audition, a dancing audition and then they read with each other different scenes, and that was the acting audition," Brothers said. "So it's a lot harder to cast someone because you have to base it on singing and dancing and acting, rather than just their acting."

Vinson agreed.

"It's not just up to one person to cast. You have to make it mesh," Vinson said. "We have this all the time. I love somebody for the character but if they can't sing the part then that's a whole other thing you have to consider."

Despite the challenges Brothers and Vinson both said they have been working hard to help the cast understand and get their roles ready for show time.

"I stress to them that everything they must do is character driven and when you approach it that way things should make more sense. Everything you're doing, the words in the song that you're singing, the steps that you're doing in dancing, it's all character driven. So it should begin to become second nature," Vinson said.

For the cast the extra work was welcomed as they were the ones who actually suggested and voted to perform this particular show, which will run from Nov. 15 to 17. The students made this selection last spring, choosing between it, "Guys and Dolls" and "Anything Goes."

"I love music. I'm actually here for the music," Schoming said.

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