Spring musical provides roles fitting to the actors of the nine person cast

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Mallory Mong, Staff Writer

The week of April the 2 held the dates of the Spring musical, the last show of the school year. In past years, musicals have been in the fall and plays have been in the spring, but at the prompting of senior Nora Dooley, this time the theater department, headed by drama teacher Brian Miller, decided to go a different route. Two musicals in one year, instead of just one.

In the decision process, theater teacher Brian Miller’s wife, Leah Miller, brought The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee to the table, and the the two decided it would work well.

“When my wife and I, because it’s a joined effort, pick these things,” Miller said, “she brought this up and we knew it had some parts that were controversial, but we figured we could get around them and then we knew who we had and then it seemed to be a perfect fit.”

What made this different than any other musical performed in the past was that there were only nine characters in the whole show. No crew, no chorus, and no costume changes.

“I think because it was such a small cast you were able to see the characters more and they didn’t blend in with the rest of the show as much,” senior Patrick LaGue said. “So each one was able to be highlighted, which was cool and also pushed us all to make more defined characters because we couldn’t fall back on the ensemble.”

Having a smaller cast brought the actors together more and allowed them to grow closer.

Before the cast was even decided, Miller already had an idea for each and every role the musical offered. Choosing the which students would play which roles wasn’t the hard part; in fact, the roles were almost heightened versions of the actors onstage, rather than roles that were completely contrary to the actors themselves.

“I usually pick the musical with the kids in mind, because you can’t just pick something and then mold them into what I need them to be,” Miller said. “I have to have an idea of what they can play.”

Each character was picked for each actor based on the actors’ own personalities and how they naturally interact around others.  Sophomore Rachel Rigler talks about how many of the actors played themselves and how much they reminded her of their character.

“I think each person who was casted in the play got a character that somewhat resembles them. [Sophomore] Hannah Denne naturally is very persistent and political.” Rigler said. “Patrick [LaGue] has gotten casted as more serious roles in the past, and so his role was different in the fact that he had to play someone who was a little kid.”

Miller agreed with Rigler.

“Olivia plays sort of the mother character, the mother hen, so we thought that was great how she talks with everybody and everybody’s her best friend,” Miller said. “[Senior] Garrett [Maddox] is a person that pretty much is really smart but also lets everybody know about it and that was pretty much Barfée. At first we thought Patrick was a stretch, until his mother came up to me and said that was exactly what he was like when he was 12.”

The musical hit on topics involving insecurities and the struggles of kids. Some of the actors dealt with similar struggles that their character faces.

“The things that some of the kids struggle with, like I know [sophomore] Hannah [Denne] tries to be extra perfect and that’s what she grabbed onto for her character.” Miller said. “[Senior] Nora [Dooley] was this girl that is really quite good at something but is very shy about it and thought it worked together. It was quite endearing the way they each brought themselves into it and made it theirs.”

This was really the first show the school has put on in a while that wasn’t set in the early 1900s. It had real struggles that people go through.

“This is the first one we’ve done that’s modern, it’s something that’s not written in 1940, and it’s much more relevant to our time period. It’s nice to have been able to do something that’s got more modern musicality and more modern subjects.” Miller said. “Musicals now deal with real subjects. It’s not, ‘Oh I’m going to fall in love and sing this song about life,’ It’s more of, ‘Life can be mean, but there’s still beauty in it,’ and that’s what musicals now talk about.”