Audiences filled the La Canada Playhouse from April 21-24, all to see the LCHS theatre arts department perform one of the most cherished musicals of all time, The Sound of Music.
Originally performed in 1959, The Sound of Music was the last Broadway musical to be written by the renowned duo Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. A remnant of The Golden Age of Broadway, the show remains in popular demand with fans over fifty years later. With classic songs and engaging characters, the story explores critical themes of identity, purpose, joy, grief, and national allegiance. The show garners warm sentiments, fond memories, and a strong inclination to sing along!
At the end of each show, Director Justin Eick, Vocal Director Jeff Brookey, and Conductor Jason Stone, invited the audience to join the cast and musicians in a sing along of the famous tunes, a memory that will be held dear by student Abby R. (Maria), “That whole finale was the most profound finale you could have. I couldn't have wished for a better way to end!” Her sentiments were echoed by Katie C. (Liesl), “To have the audience singing with you was such a beautiful thing.”
Preparing for a large-scale musical production requires dedication. Students comprised the cast, orchestra, and much of the crew, all working together to create the best show possible! As described by Katie C., “It was nice because everybody’s work ethic was really strong. No matter what we all end up doing, it’s something we’ll take with us.” Her scene partner Anthony C. (Rolf) continued, “A musical takes a lot longer to make and a lot more commitment. It’s much more of an all-school thing.”
While it does require a hefty commitment, the students benefit greatly from the experience, as Abby shared, “Putting myself out there with my art makes me feel better as a person, and it’s an opportunity to remove myself from my own stresses, channeling that into something I know will make a difference in people’s lives. It could make someone smile, or make a little kid inspired to do theatre.” From another perspective, Sarah C. (Mother Abbess) commented, “It's almost made so much more rewarding by the long hours we put in here. It's during those crazy hours we become closer as a cast and through spending so much time together we become a musical family.”
While students enrolled in theatre courses usually comprise the casts of other school plays, all students are welcome to audition for the spring musical. Auditions are usually held in the fall or early spring semester. “One of the great things about the musical is that new people are constantly given a chance. Anyone who wants to try out can,” explained Katie E. (Elsa Schraeder), “It’s a great opportunity to make friends with people you haven’t been in class with or people from a different grade.” Being in the musical may lead you to new interests, according to Sarah, “Musicals are a little intimidating to a lot of people who are interested but think they can’t be involved if they are not in choir or theatre. For a lot of people, their first exposure to choir or theatre has been through being cast in their first musical.”
For many students, performing develops skills they can incorporate into other activities. Riley O. (Uncle Max) discussed how being involved in musicals over the years has helped him branch out of his comfort zone and become a better public speaker. “I’m not actually in theatre; I do ASB and choir, but I try to do the musicals every year because they are just such an amazing opportunity to meet new people and try new things. Musicals have been my outlet to have fun and try different ways of creative expression. The skills you learn in the musical translate into so many other aspects of your life.”
Aside from performing, many students are drawn to other elements of theatre required to craft the overall experience. Building sets, moving scenery, acquiring props, helping with costumes, running lights and sound, and stage managing are just some of the jobs available. “It's like magic,” expressed Georgia S. (Light Board Operator), “ Theatre is so cool to me--that people can put themselves out like that, and we create a story. We have this medium that’s easily translated to everyone in the audience.” Similarly, Eli F. (Stage Manager), shared what he loves most about working behind the scenes, “I’ve always loved theatre but not acting. [The stage] It's a blank canvas. An empty box. And we can make it into anything we want to.” He also talked about how friendships are formed while working in theatre, “The crew is a very tight knit family. If you want to join, just come in. I’ve never met a more accepting group of kids. Everyone is so nice, and you learn such amazing skills. We always need more kids to do tech.”
According to Katie E., “Theatre is really inclusive, and it really trains you to love what you do. Mr. Eick really cares about the students and puts in everything he can to make sure it's a really fun experience for everyone.”
Together, everyone helped create some unforgettable moments. Sean S. (Captain von Trapp) shared his most memorable, “I got to say it was when I went to pull out a whistle from my pocket and it got stuck on my pocket.” Referring to an unexpected wardrobe malfunction, Sean told how he made the best of it, “I laughed, and I improvised around it. I had another one around my neck, and I just gave her mine.” For Sarah it was, “Singing with Abby, being a mother figure to Maria, and being 1 of 21 nuns.” For Katie E., her favorite part was singing, “‘How Can Love Survive,’--The song is not in the movie. It’s a fun, upbeat moment in the show, and it’s something the audience hasn’t really seen before.”
In consideration of the biggest lesson learned from being in this show, Sean noted a lesson of responsibility applied from the process, “For me never be caught unprepared.” Anthony learned, “Regardless of what you think you might get, always audition, always try your hardest, you may get something you weren’t expecting.” Abby identified what she learned from her character, “I identified with Maria a lot. In the show, she has a one track path, and she is met with adversity. Mother Abbess sends her on another path, and while it was something she initially didn’t want to do, she finds a better path. It was a journey of self-discovery I haven’t had the opportunity to do before. I felt completely honored to play such an iconic role and do the role justice.”
With so much to learn and experience, if other LCHS students are interested in contributing to the onstage magic at The La Canada Playhouse, take the advice of these La Canada Playhouse veterans:
"Try new things and don’t just stick to what you know.”---Riley O.
“Having the courage to put yourself out there, just the experience of auditioning helps you build confidence and you will meet the coolest people.” ---Abby R.
“Treasure the time you have with anyone you get to be with onstage. No role is necessarily a small role. Even if you are not the main character you make the role as large as you want to by your presence onstage and your relationships with other characters.”---Sarah C.
“Put in your part. People need to rely on each other. It’s completely a team effort."---Katie E.
“Just do it. You never know until you try. If you're willing to put in the work, I think it’s worth it.”---Katie C.