The HHS drama department will be presenting Fiddler on the Roof on March 8, 9 and 10. This performance will be including theater students as well as the band students. All of the music needed for this play will be performed by the pit orchestra. The 17 musical students either volunteered or were recruited. Band teacher, Mr. Jason Smigell, is the music director of the play.
“The pit is a very taxing job for students,” Smigell says.
The music the pit will be performing is the same music performed by professionals so the students must work very hard to get the music right. “The musical is a challenge because it is so long. It is probably the longest concert they will ever do unless they play another pit,” Smigell says.
The students are the only ones playing in the pit besides Mrs. Diane Ives, the piano accompanier. “We wouldn’t be able to do it without her,” Smigell says.
The first piece the pit will be playing is the song “Tradition”, which most agree is the hardest piece out of the whole musical. “It freaked us out at first,” Smigell says.
Cameron Pratt is a senior at HHS and trombone player in the pit. “This is my second pit. I was in Brigadoon last year,” Pratt says. Pratt really enjoys when his hard work is worth it. “The performance is the best part. It’s really nice to see our hard work pay off,” Pratt says.
Charley Garlock, a sophomore and flute player in pit, also played in Brigadoon last year and Fiddler will be her second pit. Unlike others in the pit Garlock will be switching instruments. “I switch instruments from the flute to the piccolo,” Garlock says.
Garlock is also the youngest player on first part. “I am the only sophomore on first part and I’ve been on it for two years,” Garlocks says. Garlock has been in band for five years now and plans to keep up her band career for the future.
Mr. Smigell is really proud of all his students in pit. “The kids in pit are very serious and highly motivated students,” Smigell says.
Renee Augustyn, a senior at HHS, is very excited for the pit. “We’re anxious to see how it turns out,” Augustyn says. Augustyn really likes the environment that pit has and how friendly everyone is. She also likes the play compared to some of the musicals last year. “Fiddler is more ethnically diverse than Brigadoon,” Augustyn says.
Everyone involved in the Fiddler pit is eager to perform after all of their hard work and dedication. Any musical put on at HHS needs both the acting talent as well as the musical talent to make every musical successful. Although the audience cannot see the pit during the performance it’s essential to realize the importance of the pit to the play and all of the students’ hard work.
“I’m very grateful to be able to work in the pit the second year in a row, and I am determined to be in the pit the rest of my high school career,” Garlock says.
Madison Deadman, a sophomore at Howell High School, has been singing and performing all her life. She has been singing since age two and began vocal lessons at age nine. When asked if she believed individuals were born with a gifted voice or had to learn the talent, she replied, “I think people can learn anything they put their mind to. I’ve always loved to sing, I can’t say that I’ve always been good.”
Being on the big stage are her wishes, hopes, and dreams. She’s been there. With her singing group, SIR3N, Deadman traveled to New York this past summer and sang for the cast of Mamma Mia on a Broadway stage at the Winter Garden Theatre. The cast was very impressed, and Deadman was glowing. When asked what emotions ran through her as she lived, for a moment, this life she’s chasing, all she could say was, “It was thrilling, exhilarating, just thrilling.”
Teenagers in high school are often assigned an identifier; Madison Deadman’s is her voice. She is known through the halls for possessing strong, loud, and beautiful singing pipes. When told that her peers are intimidated by her for her reputation she laughed in confusion and said she feels like a normal high school kid and doesn’t like when people feel that way.
Deadman attends rehearsals for theatre six days a week for five hours a day – almost a full time job. In addition, she takes acting classes when they are offered, all this on top of balancing school, family, friends, and a boyfriend.
Her schedule is consuming but she wouldn’t change it for anything. It is difficult work with her perfectionist persona. Striving for A’s, she works into the night after long days of practice to complete homework assignments. “It’s hard, but it’s something I love,” Deadman said, talking with her hands, “and it’s nice to have Mondays off.”
Deadman lives with her mom, dad, and older brother. Her encouraging parents have driven her to and from lessons, rehearsals, and performances for years. “They’re really supportive and I couldn’t ask for a better family,” Deadman explained. “It’s a perfect balance of supporting me in what I want to pursue but not pushing me to take on more than I can handle.”
Deadman is acknowledged for her singing, but what most don’t know is that she prefers acting. She appeared in her first play at age six, as Gretel, the youngest child, in The Sound of Music. The days prior she had tried out for cheerleading, but quit after getting the call that set in motion her theatre career thus far. “I bawled when I got the part, I was super excited – ecstatic. I called my whole family.”
Since then, Deadman has acted in twenty-one plays, some of her favorite being, Amy in Little Women, Sister Mary Leo in Nunsense, and Annie in Annie. Newly, she will be the co-narrating with two members from her singing group in the upcoming play, Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat.
Her love for theatre branches from the happiness she feels from bringing delight to her fans. “I love acting because of the audience’s feedback, bringing joy as a response to my show on the stage is a great feeling,” Deadman explained. “I think I’m better at acting, it comes more naturally. It’s also an escape from reality by playing other people and putting yourself in their shoes.”
Although Deadman desires a performing life she would be happy with an alternate route. “Whatever happens, happens,” she said when asked about a future career. She’s also interested in reporting for the news, “It’s kind of like acting.” She’s eager for information, loving to learn things about new people and places, “I’d love to travel the world interviewing people.” Coincidentally enough, Deadman is currently enrolled in a journalistic writing course at Howell High and is loving every minute of it.
Madison is exceedingly successful for being only fifteen, from currently recording a CD with her vocal group, SIR3N, appearing in her first commercial, being a professional actress since sixth grade, having an agent in New York that handles her Broadway auditions, to playing a supporting role two the television series, Spunky Airlines and SciEngiMathePloration. And all tribute she gives to her parents.
“It sounds cheesy,” she laughed, her eyes crinkling in a smile, “but I credit my achievements to my parents. There’s no way I’d be where I am today. I’m just really, really grateful.”
“My favorite part about theater is when you have a character and can make it your own,” says senior Henry Tesmer.
Tesmer describes himself as just an ol’, normal human being, which wasn’t hard to depict given his relaxed and laid back manner. However, there’s more to him than that. He contains a liking for theater that absorbs most of his life.
Stemming from a love for movies, Tesmer’s interest in theater began after he picked up a guitar and strived to be just like his role model, actor Jim Carrey. Since 6th grade, his love for theater shot off, when he starred in his first play, called Rats.
“I played a rat,” he says with a small laugh. “I didn’t know what I was doing and I asked a lot of questions, but you become family and get along with everyone.”
Ever since then, he has been in and worked on multiple plays, including the Community Theater of Howell’s Cinderella in which he played Prince Charming. However, according to Tesmer, the one the play that topped the rest was Flowers for Algernon, in which he played the lead, Charlie Gordon this past school year.
“It was very difficult because there were a lot of intelligent standpoints in his life but everyone helped me, especially Ms. Malo,” Tesmer mentions. Ms. Amanda Malo is the drama teacher at HHS.
Besides acting in plays, he also worked on them as well. At the high school level, he sometimes had the job of running the sound and light board for some of the productions and in doing so, he learned other aspects of theater.
Not only that, but his active role in theater gave him the chance of being in Advanced Drama and he was given the opportunity to actually teach students in the Drama I class.
“It’s hard to teach people your own age,” he says, laughing a little. “However, it was exciting because you are teaching people something you love.”
Even though drama is his favorite class, he also enjoys choir. He gave it a shot in 8th grade and decided to stick with it and never looked back. He was in A Capella, the Highlander Chorale, and the men’s group, Calamity, throughout high school.
“It’s the same as theater,” Tesmer adds. “People are doing what you enjoy and you make a lot of friends.”
Outside of his busy theater schedule, Tesmer has other favorite hobbies, including hanging out with friends and playing the ukulele. It was a spur of the moment decision and his reasoning behind the hobby was he wanted to learn a song called “I Follow You into the Dark” by the band Death Cab For Cutie. Other than this and singing, he also likes to listen to indie, acoustic and on occasion, scream-o music.
Also, at one point in his life, he owned a pet piranha. “I wanted one because they were cool and not many people have one,” he says.
Right now, he lives with his mom, dad, who is always away for work, and little brother. He also has two brothers, one residing in Ann Arbor and the other in the Air Force, and a sister who lives in South Carolina.
Soon, he will be heading off to college as well. He is going to Western Michigan and hopes to gain a master’s degree and eventually his P.H.D in theater directing in which he hopes to use to help jumpstart his dream to have his own production company. Even with all his plans set, he feels a little nervous about being on his own.
“You have a lot more responsibilities,” he says, shrugging his shoulders. “People used to help me with my dreams but now I am on my own.”
Despite this small worry, he gained great advice from a friend, which he will keep in his head as he moves on in life.
“When in Flowers for Algernon, Becky Dilworth told me that you want to live it more than fear it, and since then I have stuck by that quote,” Tesmer proudly states.
The upcoming play, Thoroughly Modern Millie, is currently in the process of rehearsal and preparation for its June show date at the Howell Community Theatre. Three Fires Middle School already produced the play a few years back with great success, but this year the CTH has taken on the task of working towards even more success with the show.
“I ended up getting a supporting lead role, so that was pretty cool,” says Austin Schippers, a junior at Howell High School. “I’m super excited for this to go up because I get to perform with a lot of kids my age, which is nice. And I love to perform in general so this is a great opportunity for both!”
The story is set in 1922 and is about a girl named Millie Dilmount who travels to New York City from Kansas. Her mission is to find a job with a single boss whom she hopes to marry and become wealthy in doing so. Throughout her time in New York she meets a handful of people who play very important roles. The story is to be thought of as a bit of a love story with interesting plot turns and twists.
“I tried out for this role because a lot of my friends were going to try out for the show, and I got talked into it,” says Adam Sciberras, also a junior at Howell High School. “I tried it and got the lead role of Ching Ho. I ended up with being in the show with a lot of my friends too. I love doing theatre because I love to sing and act, and I love the atmosphere and the experience of being in a show with people that do it for the same reasons.”
There is an incredible amount of hard work put into making this production a success. They’ve rehearsed every day for three months from 6 p.m.-9 p.m., and through this process, they’ve become increasingly more confident about the outcome of this show.
“Really, it’s just taking your ideas and making the people on the stage do and perfect them,” says Chris Brandt, a junior at Howell High School, who is the assistant director of the show. “Sometimes it gets really stressful because when you get a bunch of people together who have varying personalities, people get angry, and you have to be able to work with a lot of different types of people. But the moment the show opens and you are watching it, you have this feeling in your stomach that can only be described as all your hard and stressful work finally paying off.”
For ticket information, go to www.cththeatre.org. The show dates are June 7-June 10.
The Community Theatre of Howell, housed in the Howell High School Freshman Campus, invites community members to get involved. It’s never too late to be a star. This local theatre has many opportunities for actors of all ages.
Although the season is halfway over-White Christmas and Willy Wonka come and gone – you still have a chance to participate in your local theatre. If you aren’t looking for an acting part, you could always lend a hand backstage during for the upcoming play, Steel Magnolias, which will be presented on February 3, 4, 10, and 11 of 2012 at 7:30 pm, and on February 5 and 12 at 2:00 pm. However, if you are more interested in the performing aspect of a play, then you should consider Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, which will take the stage in May.
“I look forward to sitting in the audience, enjoying the laughter as they see the show,” the director, Becky Dilworth, says, already looking forward to seeing her play come to life. “I love to laugh, and who doesn’t need more laughter in their lives?”
In Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, produced by Theresia Rogers, Lawrence Jameson is a handsome, suave, and sophisticated gentleman who makes his living by charming rich ladies out of their money, while small time crook and utterly unsophisticated Freddy Benson tells rich ladies lies about his grandmother’s failing health to get their cash. Once the two conmen meet, they decide the world isn’t big enough for the both of them, so they agree on a duel – the first man to swindle $50,000 from the lovely American heiress, Christine Colgate, wins.
“I know that the rehearsals will be fun as we work through the material,” Dilworth says. “The actors in this show must have a good sense of humor and I envision a process of building the show that involves a lot of laughing!”
Auditions for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels are on February 16 from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm at the Freshman Campus. Actors will be asked to sing a portion of one of the songs and dance an audition number. This dance will be taught at the dance workshop, which is February 15, also at the Freshman Campus. The workshop is not required, but it is highly recommended. Readings and callbacks will be the following day, February 17, from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm. Ages to audition can range from 14 to older, but all cast members must be able to appear 18 or older.
“My kids started doing theater at CTH 13 years ago and I just fell in love with the process of going from an idea to a full-fledged live story,” says Dilworth. “There is a feeling from live theater that simply cannot be matched by a movie. There is a communion with the audience. There is a connection between the actor and the audience that is unlike anything else. You become transported and feel their story.”
If you’ve never starred in a play with CTH before, then now is your chance. For more information on upcoming plays and ways to get involved, you can visit cththeatre.org.