When the performing arts faculty discusses what show they want for the fall musical each year, they try to choose a show with a large cast, a large musical value and lots of roles for girls.
Performing Arts Department Head Rees Pugh said that the musical has to have many girl roles because about twice as many girls audition for the musical as boys.
He also said that due to the large number of auditioners, the show must have a big chorus.
However, these restrictions prevent the department from choosing many shows from the last 20 years because they do not have enough girl parts and too small a cast.
“We’d love to do a show with a smaller cast, but we have too many kids who want to be in it,” Pugh said.
Another factor that decides which show the department puts on is the talent within the school.
Pugh said that when choosing a musical, the directors, acting teacher Michele Spears and either Pugh or acting teacher Ted Walch, talk to other faculty in the department to see if they can pull off a certain show.
For example, they ask instrumental music teachers Shawn Costantino and Mark Hilt if there are enough musicians to perform the score, and ask choral teacher Rodger Guerrero if there are singers for all the roles.
While the talent of students is a consideration, Pugh said that the department would never pick a show in order to cast a particular actor in the lead. However, the faculty will decide not to do a certain show if they know there is no person that can play the lead.
“‘Sweeney Todd’ is a show that I would love to do, and unless we have a boy who can sing bass really low, we can’t really do ‘Sweeney Todd,’ Pugh said. “But, that doesn’t mean if we had that one kid we would do it; it would be nice to have a couple of options.”
Pugh said that directors will often pick a show because they agree with its message and, alternately, will not pick a show if they feel the message is not appropriate for the mood of the school at the time.
“You can’t do ‘Hair,’ which has a pretty ambivalent message about drugs, when you’ve got people getting kicked out of school for drugs,” Pugh said.
The show that the department ultimately picked for this year, “Hairspray,” was a suggestion from Justin Carr ’14 who died last year of cardiomyopathy.
“I told [Carr] we were thinking about doing “Hair,” and he said to me ‘You mean “Hairspray”?’” Pugh said.
“Hairspray” fit all of the requirements for a show, with almost twenty named roles for girls and a large chorus.
“This show should have all kinds of opportunities for all kinds of kids and also be a very exciting score, which I think makes it a blast,” Pugh said. “I think the biggest reason I’m doing the show is because it’s so much fun and the music is so uplifting.”
Auditions for “Hairspray” begin Aug. 29 and callbacks will start Sept. 4. The show will run from Nov. 8 to Nov. 10.