Springtime is musical time at several high schools in the Fox Valley. This weekend is no exception, as at least four schools will present the culmination of many hours of hard work rehearsing and preparing for the show.
What goes into putting together a high school musical, and what do audiences enjoy about them? We asked directors to share their thoughts.
Director Lisa Bettcher chose "West Side Story" as Dundee-Crown's spring musical because, she said, it is "one of the masterpieces of musical theater."
But staging a masterpiece takes a lot of hard work.
"This show has an enormous amount of dancing," Bettcher said. "Cast members attended 51 rehearsals that averaged three hours in length. Our kids should be getting a physical education waiver for their involvement with the show."
Although she is grateful to everyone who has volunteered their time on "West Side Story," the show might not have happened, Bettcher said, without the support of artistic directors Tim and Julie Spindler.
"This production started with a concept created by Tim and Julie Spindler," Bettcher said. "We met when their son, Nick, now a theater education/acting major at Illinois State University, was in my choir at Dundee Middle School. Since that time, the Spindlers have been a giant force supporting each musical production that I have directed since 2007. Over 800 hours of their time and talents have been shared with our community. Tim and Julie spend their time designing, planning, creating, building, painting, and advising the overall artistic presentation in our productions."
First impressions can be misleading. Todd Duty, director of Larkin High School's production of "Legally Blonde -- the Musical," thinks audiences who come to this show expecting "fluff" will be surprised.
"'Legally Blonde' requires intense singing abilities in addition to being a very dance heavy show," Duty said.
"A lot of musicals will have a song and then four or five pages of script and then another song. 'Legally Blonde' is almost operatic in how it is written with little dialogue unsung. Additionally, as an actor, it is always challenging to take on a well-known story and try and make the characters your own instead of trying to do an imitation of what you've seen in a movie."
Duty said he chose "Legally Blonde" as Larkin's spring musical after seeing a Broadway production of the show.
"I think the audience will enjoy the music," he said. "It is a very fun musical with upbeat songs and fun characters."
He thinks audiences familiar with the story will love this production's Elle.
"Pricilla Torres has worked very hard to make Elle her own, and she is a triple threat (acting, singing, and dancing)," he said. "We are all very proud of her and the work she has put into this show."
Marmion Academy and Rosary High School
Marmion Academy and Rosary High School are joining forces to put on a classic musical full of catchy tunes.
"I chose 'Guys and Dolls' because it is classic musical with many male parts. At Marmion Academy, our goal is to get as many young men involved in theater as possible; I believe this show allows for that," said director Kristin Voris.
"Beyond that, it is a fun show -- allowing the boys to work on accents and pretend to gamble onstage -- and it is markedly different from the types of shows we've done in years past."
Voris credits an experienced team of assistant directors and choreographers, along with an outstanding cast, with helping make this show come together smoothly as Voris welcomed a new addition to the family.
"On a personal note, my biggest challenge is having been pregnant and given birth through the course of this show," Voris said. "I've never experienced a tech week while raising a 6-week-old, so more than anything, the challenges in putting the show together are figuring out how to balance my personal life with my work."
With the lead roles played by David Blaha as Sky Masterson, John Thornton as Nathan Detroit, Sara Caliguri as Sarah Brown and Kate Jarecki as Miss Adelaide, Voris said she has high expectations for future shows.
"Much of the cast for this show is underclassmen, so the audience can look forward to many more great performances in years to come."
Based on the Oscar-winning DreamWorks film and book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire, and featuring musical scores written by Jeanine Tesori, "Shrek the Musical" brings the hilarious story of everyone's favorite ogre to life onstage.
Directors Nancy Cross and Tom George thought "Shrek" would be a "fun show the whole community would enjoy."
As fun as the show promises to be, Cross said there have been some challenges.
"One of the biggest challenges was working with the dragon, because it is such a large puppet and it has difficult special effects," Cross said.
Cross thinks there are several scenes in particular that audiences will like.
"The sequence in which Fiona grows up is one of my favorites, but it's hard to decide between that and some of the scenes with Shrek and Donkey," Cross said.
"The audience will really have fun with the donkey in love."
The show is choreographed by Michelle Sopchyk, and lead roles are played by Noah Richardson, Carla Sciortino, Connor Rooney, Steele Dehmlow and Madison Paez.