The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

February 20, 2014

Edgewood ready to rock 'High School Musical'

Disney's classic a fun show with energetic choreography and live band

For the Star Beacon

ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP — This year’s musical at Edgewood is Disney’s “High School Musical,” directed by Bill and Mary Ann Kline. Although most recognize the cast on stage as the main component of the play, several other groups and supporting students contribute to putting on the musicals every year. Edgewood band director Connie Sommers is excited to return and direct the musical’s pit band.

“I love working with Bill and Mary Ann and Nora Giancola,” said Sommers, “It’s just fun to be a part of the process. I like learning the ins and outs of the show.”

Senior Mitchell Thompson, who will be playing the drum set in the pit for his second year, said, “A musical just isn’t the same without a live band. The energy given off by a live performance is truly a great thing. Because of that, every performance is truly a blast!”

Thompson also reflects on the different struggles and advantages this year. “It’s a lot of hard work being in the pit, especially with all the calamity days this year. We only have about three weeks to have our part put together, but this year is a little bit easier because we have a smaller pit band with only a handful of players with a more rock-centered style of music; and you couldn’t ask for a better director when it comes to Mrs. Sommers. She knows everything there is to know about music.”

“With this smaller group, everything goes together a little faster,” Sommers said. “We’ve always had good pits in past years, and this group is no exception.”

Thompson agreed, saying, “This pit is full of fine folk and good people I can count on.”

Also returning for her fifth Edgewood show is choreographer Kimberly Godfrey. Godfrey has been acting and directing in professional musicals for the past 21 years, and has been choreographing musicals for 11 years. This year’s show is special for Godfrey, as “High School Musical” was the first show she directed years ago.

“With this being my second production personally of ‘HSM,’ it has been especially fun going through the process of putting it all together with a new group of students,” said Godfrey. “Working with Edgewood students is always rewarding and this show has been especially rewarding because of the story “High School Musical” tells; the students do a wonderful job conveying the message that anyone can be who they want to be in life.”

All aspects of putting a show together are important. “Just because I’m not on stage doesn’t mean I don’t feel important,” said Thompson. “If someone offered me the lead role on stage in exchange for my drum set, I wouldn’t take it.”

It takes all special background aspects to make a musical production truly exceptional and enjoyable to an audience, and all the hard work of cast and crew is reflected in the laughs, smiles and applause of the audience. Sommers says it best by quoting the theme of the show, “We’re all in this together.”

The sets are some of the most important pieces in a play. They add life and give that little extra bit of excitement. This year’s sets will consist of areas within a high school. Bill Kline and Debra Paxson are the main coordinators of sets.

“The back drop is created a week to 10 days before the musical because there is so much detail and effort my painters have to put into it. The Art Club spends a lot of extra time contributing to the school musicals as well,” Paxson said.

While the sets are painted, Bill Kline is the man responsible for building and constructing the structures.

Another extremely important part of the musical is the stage crew. Unfortunately, most of the time, these are the ones that get the least amount of recognition. Jenny Howell, an Edgewood alum has willingly come back and decided to be the stage crew manager. Throughout the show, different ropes, pieces, spotlights and the sound board all have to be operated in harmony. In order for that to happen, the stage crew has to be on top of their game.

Opening night for “High School Musical” will be Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. On March 1 there will be a matinee at 1:30 p.m. and a late show at 7:30 p.m. The final performance will be March 2 at 2 p.m. Adult ticket prices are $8 and $6 for students; these can be purchased at the door.