By MIKE EDDLEMAN
The stage is set as the Liberty Hill High School Fine Arts Department seeks to raise the bar with its production of “Sweet Charity”.
The musical, based on the Neil Simon book, with music by Cy Coleman and lyrics by Dorothy Fields, gives the department an opportunity to bring all of its talents together at once.
“This is the first collaborative effort of our Fine Arts Department,” said Theatre Director Chuck Harris.
The curtain rises on the first show Jan. 18, and everyone involved is convinced this is not a show to miss.
“I like how it is spontaneous,” said student actor Zane Sanchez. “It is heartfelt and very real. It is going to be a great production. We’ve put all of our heart into it and this will be one that people will talk about for a long time. I think people will come back a second time.”
Fine Arts Director and Band Director John Perrin said the level of professionalism in the production is impressive.
“This is as close to a professional level program as we’ve seen here,” he said. “With all of the collaboration and all the independent work that’s been done, it’s really fantastic to get this level of cooperation.”
Each part of the production has been working since October 2017 to put it all in place, and learning along the way what it takes to pull together so many moving parts.
“We are working with our band director, we’re working with our theater teacher and the choir teacher and this is really a fine arts production,” said dance teacher and choreographer Lauren Lipinski. “We’re all chipping in, learning how to work with each other and how to be creative with each other.”
Fellow choreographer and junior high dance teacher Megan Fitzgerald echoed those thoughts, adding that the time outside the classroom has been a great opportunity to have more fun and connect.
“This is very time consuming, but it is really fun to work with the kids outside of an academic setting where no one is worried about being scored,” she said. “We get to be a little silly, work together and just spend time having fun.”
A musical provides different challenges for everyone involved.
“I have never done any musical theater, so the staging for me was difficult to picture and see. With Broadway there is a set space and theme,” Lipinski said.
The show has a female lead – Charity Hope Valentine played by Emily Barrett – something Harris felt would offer a good learning opportunity for the students involved.
“It’s kind of a 1960s empowering women show, with good, strong female characters,” he said. “I think a lot of times we don’t really do those shows and I don’t think anyone has done this one in this area. We’ve talked about how the female characters in this show think the only thing they can do is be a receptionist or a wife. They don’t think about being a CEO or a director.”
While some changes have been made, Perrin said the level of professionalism is teaching the students a lot about large-scale theater production.
“Mr. Harris picked a legitimate musical,” he said. “The kids are reading out of a book that a Broadway musician would be reading out of. That’s invaluable to us to get the kids some real world experience so if they want to go over to Georgetown to the Palace and play or play in college they can.”
Fitzgerald see the excitement and improving skills in the actors every week.
“It is a very passionate production because the kids who love to play music are playing music, the kids who love to dance are dancing and the kids who love to act are acting,” she said. “Seeing them all having a great time doing this is really satisfying.”
All involved agreed the show offers something for everyone.
“They will see good singing and dancing, they can expect a fun show,” Harris said. “It’s a comedy and I think they will enjoy the energy. Come see it. Give us a chance. It is a new thing and I think people will enjoy it. There are fun songs, great jokes and a really good story.”
Show times are scheduled for Jan. 18-20 with an additional matinee set for Jan. 20. Reserved-seat tickets can be purchased online for $10. The online link to purchase tickets can be found on the Liberty Hill High School webpage.
“This has been amazing from the beginning when most of us didn’t really know much about what was going on,” Barrett said. “I feel like we’ve come together to make something really great.”