For the last five years, with the exception of the 2020-21 school year, Oak Hall students have performed in the One School Musical. Next month, around 100 third graders through seniors are performing Seussical the Musical, a musical based off Dr. Seuss’s literary creations. Theater teacher Brooke Molitor and music teacher Erin Cushing work together to decide which musical will be performed. “Every January, Ms. Molitor and I start with a huge list of musicals and start narrowing them down,” Cushing said. When deciding which musical to produce, the two teachers take into consideration how large the cast should be, what type of technical equipment they would need, and what instruments need to be used for the orchestra pit, among other things.
Unlike previous One School Musical’s like Matilda and James and the Giant Peach, Seussical is a play that strays away from the usual set design of musicals with its bright colors and cartoony theme, much like the drawings in a Dr. Seuss book. The musical includes famous Dr. Seuss characters like Horton, the Cat in the Hat, Gertrude, Yertle the Turtle, and the Whos of Who-ville.
Students participating in Seussical say this play is an amazing experience that brings the school together as one and inspires them to share and showcase their love for the performing arts. “There is a big social aspect with everyone being in a group of people and it can be fun to talk with the cast [with parts similar to yours],” said eighth grader, Soie Haberman. She also elaborated on how working with different grades is one of her favorite parts of participating in the musical. “[The musical] gives students of all ages and abilities the opportunity to be leaders or learn from others,” Cushing noted.
Seussical performances will be held Oct. 13 and 14 at 7 p.m., and Oct. 16 at 3 p.m. All performances are in the Edith D. Cofrin Theater on Oak Hall’s campus. Reserved seating is $10 per ticket through Oct. 10 and can be purchased by clicking here! After Oct. 10, general admission tickets will be available at the door for $5 via credit card only (no cash).
Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the classic musical West Side Story came to theaters on Dec. 10, 2021. With a cast of Broadway members, the screen was filled with talent.
The most important casting decision that Spielberg had to make was for the iconic roles of Tony and María. Ansel Elgort, best known for his roles in The Fault in Our Stars and Baby Driver, did not seem like the obvious choice for Tony but surprisingly has a beautiful voice. Elgort lacks dancing skills in comparison to his fellow castmates, but his performance of the song “María” made up for what he lacked in other areas. Newcomer Rachel Zegler was cast as María. With no prior movie acting experience, she isn’t a stranger to being on stage. At the time of her casting, she was in her high school production of Shrek The Musical. She posted videos of her singing on her YouTube channel for years, and her passion for music was evident through her rendition of “I Feel Pretty.” Similarly to Elgort, her dancing was not at the same level as those around her, but that was expected as she was alongside so many Broadway ensemble performers.
The Jets ensemble was a group full of Broadway performers. Mike Faist, as Riff, is known for originating the parts of Morris Delancey in Newsies and Connor Murphy in Dear Evan Hansen. His vocals and dancing were impeccable, but he didn’t have the look of Riff. He did not come across as the intimidating character that it was written to be.
When casting the Puerto Rican gang, the Sharks, Spielberg required actors with Hispanic ethnical backgrounds. David Alvarez was casted as María’s protective older brother, Bernardo. Alvarez had previous movie experience, but he is best known for his performance in Billy Elliot: TheMusical on Broadway. His dancing abilities fit the character perfectly, as did his acting, but he did not look like he could have been related to Zegler. Ariana DeBose, who plays Anita, has plenty of musical theater experience. She is best known for her performances onstage in Hamilton (which you can watch on Disney+ as she portrays the character of “The Bullet”) and Summer: The Donna Summer Musical. She has impeccable dancing abilities that were featured throughout the movie musical. Her voice was not as strong as her dancing talents, but her acting was perfect for her character. So much so that she won a Golden Globe Award for her rendition of Anita.
Spielberg made some adjustments from the original stage production (1957) and from the original movie musical (1961). He had the opportunity to work alongside the late Steven Sondheim, the composer of the score. In this, he had some freedom to move around the order of the musical numbers. In the stage version of the show, both “I Feel Pretty” and “Gee, Officer Krupke” were featured after “The Rumble”. To the directors of the 1961 adaptation, this didn’t fit, as those are two lighthearted songs following a major plot point in which two main characters die. They decided to move both songs to before “The Rumble” to add more intensity following the major scene. Spielberg, on the other hand, decided to move “I Feel Pretty” to right after “The Rumble” in order to show that the female characters continued as they did not know what was occurring in the shadows at night. I think the new order of songs made the movie flow easier and allowed for more character development and real-life reactions and interactions between characters.
Another big change from the original productions was the way that the musical number “Cool” was done. Originally, this song was a moment for Riff to calm down the Jets about the rumble. In the new film, “Cool” is a fight between Tony and Riff. Tony is trying to convince Riff to make a change in his life. “In this version, we really wanted to expand the storyline between Tony and Riff, and Tony being this guy who comes from this tribe, and wanting to actively be different, wanting to change, wanting to be better than who he was,” Faist toldFilm. “It’s them breaking up, letting go of each other, and just the betrayal of the both of them and how they feel with each other.” This showed the real bond between the two characters, and Elgort and Faist’s chemistry was perfectly portrayed.
“America” is meant to be the shows big dance number. This song was probably the most underwhelming. Instead of being done on the rooftop like in the 1957 adaption, it was done in the streets of New York which provided more color and a happier tone to the screen. The song itself, however, did not provide a wall of sound as anticipated. The song laid there, and there were some great moments in the choreography, but overall, the song did not come together in the way the iconic song was meant to be.
As a whole, the new adaptation received high ratings at the box offices. According to Rotten Tomatoes, the film received a 92% from critics and a 94% from audiences. Spielberg did a great job maintaining the classic film’s integrity throughout all the changes that were made.
Thanks to streaming services, musicals have become a fun (and sometimes slightly educational) way to watch Broadway shows without having to leave your living room. Here is a list of some of my favorite musicals throughout the last few decades. The shows are all family-friendly and are all classics which I’ve watched multiple times throughout my life. Honestly, the older musicals make me reminisce about my childhood when I would to sit by the TV and watch with my dog (Ariege), parents, or grandparents! The newer musicals were fun to watch in theaters with my friends and just make me want to sing and be happy! Included are just a little about each of the musicals and the trailer to watch if you think you might enjoy the film!
The Sound of Music – Rated G Released on April 1, 1965 This musical was inspired by the Von Trapp family, a family of singers who ultimately had to flee their home in Austria to escape Nazis in World War II. Julie Andrews plays Maria, the nun-turned-governess who takes care of the Von Trapp children, teaches them about music, and earns their love. This musical is an oldie, but a goodie!
The Music Man – Rated G Released on June 19, 1962 The Music Man was originally a Broadway show but was later adapted to be released as a movie. The story follows Harold Hill (Robert Preston), a con salesman who stumbles into River City and attempts to steal money originally designated for a band. In the process of his elaborate scheme, he falls in love with the librarian and the town. There is even a little magic at the end (but don’t worry I’m not going to spoil it!). This is such an amazing film to watch, even though there are some sad parts.
Beauty and the Beast – Rated PG Released on Sept. 29, 1991 First released on Sept. 29, 1991 this Walt Disney production won countless awards along with many adaptations of the film. The original fairy tale, written by French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, was printed in 1740 and has since been rewritten and re-told in numerous languages and cultures around the world. In the Disney version, however, a young bookworm named Belle wants to save her dad from doom and gloom after he breaks into a castle and becomes a prisoner of the “Beast”. While that sounds a bit on the depressing side, there are many musical scenes including pots and teacups singing and dancing. Beauty and the Beast is a Disney classic that is amazing to watch as a child or as an adult!
Aladdin – Rated PG Released on Nov. 25, 1992 This fully animated musical became one of the highest-grossing films of 1992 which lead to a live action version released in 2019. The story is about a princess named Jasmine, an evil villain named Jafar (who wants to rule the kingdom), a dude named Aladdin (who finds a random genie lamp), and of course the Genie that comes out of the aforementioned lamp. Aladdin is granted three wishes which he uses to get closer to Jasmine, but things do not turn out all that swell for Aladdin. This movie is a perfect way to teach kids about the important of thinking before speaking!
The Greatest Showman – Rated PG Released on Dec. 20, 2017 This is one of the newer musicals with an amazing cast: Zendaya, Zac Efron, and Hugh Jackman. The story is based upon an adaptation of P.T. Barnum life as he rises through the world to create the Barnum and Bailey circus. The musical is known for its amazing musical numbers such as “The Greatest Show” and “Rewrite the Stars”. While The Greatest Showman is rated PG, it does include some more mature topics.
Hamilton: An American Musical – Rated PG-13 Released on July 3, 2020 This musical first premiered at The Public Theater in New York City and is a “sung-and-rapped-through” musical which recaps the life of Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers of the United States. Lin-Manuel Miranda composed, wrote the lyrics, wrote the playwright, and stared as Hamilton in the off-Broadway-then-Broadway musical debut in 2015. In that same year, the cast was filmed over three days so the musical could be seen outside of a stage. With the closing of Broadway (amongst other things) last spring due Covid, it was decided to release Hamilton on Disney+ earlier than anticipated to help people get through the pandemic. Like The Greatest Showman, Hamilton deals with mature topics such as adultery.