Bust out your raincoats and umbrellas for this year’s musical production at Montezuma-Cortez Middle School.
This fall, the middle school’s theater department is performing the classic romantic comedy “Singin’ in the Rain.”
It’s been a whirlwind few months of dance lessons and set-building and even some “lovey-dovey” scenes, but it’s finally coming together, students and teachers said last week.
“I think this show has really proven how well 65 kids can problem-solve and create together,” said Angela Gabardi, co-director and middle school theater teacher. “We’ve had a lot of hiccups from dance moves to set pieces to costumes to everything. And they worked with such positive attitudes to really make something happen, and even though we’ve had those struggles, we’ve really made a strong show.”
This will be the fifth musical produced by the department, joining the ranks of “The Pirates of Penzance,” “Into the Woods,” and, last year, “Emma! A Pop Musical.”
The musical is set in Hollywood in the late 1920s, just as the film industry is moving from silent films to “talkies” with sound.
Against this backdrop, actors Don Lockwood and Kathy Seldon fall for each other, although their relationship is somewhat thwarted by the obnoxious Lina Lamont – Don’s usual leading lady with a terrible voice.
The middle school production features a 39-person cast, and about 24 students on backstage and technical crews. About a dozen school staff and parents also supported the production throughout the rehearsal season.
“I’ve never attended any of the plays at all, so it will be awesome to just see one of them, and knowing that I helped create it somehow,” said John Jacobs, an eighth grader on the sound team.
Debbie McHenry is providing musical accompaniment on the piano.
Singing and dancing, you might guess, is a big part of the show – requiring some serious coordination and synchronization for the middle schoolers.
“It’s a lot of footwork and a lot of movement really fast, which depends on the song, but it’s really fun, and I do learn a lot of stuff,” said eighth grader Tyler (Spikey) Jackson, who plays a teacher.
“Singin’ in the Rain” also is a romance, meaning that some cast members have had to practice their stage flirtation skills – and third wheeling.
“I have to be very lovey-dovey with this guy,” said Payton Gnas, who plays Kathy Seldon, pointing to fellow eighth grader Chandler Snyder (Don Lockwood). “And having to express so many emotions can be kind of tricky, because you don’t know how to play it sometimes.”
Cosmo Brown, played by Xander Bennetts, is the best friend who hangs around the two lovebirds and serves as comic relief. He loves his humorous character, although it has come with certain difficulties.
“The challenge was remembering and trying to keep your breath,” Bennetts said. “Because with Cosmo, he’s all over the place, kind of a crazy guy.”
But after months of rehearsals, the stage is set for opening night. This week is Tech Week, with students rehearsing in costume in the middle school theater, where the performances will be held.
The show will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday and at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday in the middle school gym.
“I expected that we were going to have a good turnout, which we did,” said Marla Sitton, co-director and choir teacher at the middle and high school. “I expected that we were going to have excellent singers, which we do. I expected we were going to have a little bit of frustration with the dancing, did that.
“But I also expected that we were going to have a lot of fun and the kids were going to grow in ways that they didn’t know that they could. I’m super proud.”