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VVMS Spring Musical Success

photo courtesy of edinaschools.org

photo courtesy of edinaschools.org

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Last Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, Valley View Middle School thespians performed their spring musical, Seussical the Musical. It featured a cast of lively, colorful, and energetic characters, all of whom suited the quirky stories of the show’s namesake, Dr. Seuss, quite well. The upbeat music kept the audience tapping their toes, while the bright and creative costumes and set left them reminiscing about the cleverly rhymed stories they read as children.

The musical follows the story of Horton the Elephant, who lives in the Jungle of Nool. When one day Horton discovers a group of people called Whos floating through the air on a town no larger than a dust speck, he dedicates himself to protecting this microscopic town from any potential harm. Despite the ridicule and mocking of his fellow animals in the Jungle of Nool, Horton remains determined because, as he says, “a person’s a person, no matter how small.”

The show featured a host of fast paced songs, which created a style of show which was new to many of the cast members. “[Seussical] was different because almost the entire show was singing,” said VVMS freshman Matt Johnson, who played Horton. The show’s limited dialogue challenged the cast to tell their story almost entirely through the music they sang, which they did with fantastic energy, often while simultaneously performing engaging dance productions.

An aspect of the performance which truly made the show stand out as especially creative was the cast’s portrayals of the numerous quirky and outlandish classic Seuss characters. “Seussical is unique in its amount of abnormal characters,” said VVMS freshman Natalie Bartolomei, who played Horton’s neighbor and love interest, Gertrude McFuzz. “We spent a lot of time exploring the different movements associated with such characters, which was not easy.” To live up to the wacky personalities associated with Dr. Seuss characters, the cast captured the audience’s attention with their sudden, high energy movements, along with their fast-paced recitation of dialogue, written in the rhyming style of Dr. Seuss. In addition, the brightly colored set, along with similarly bold costumes and impressive hair and makeup gave the show an atmosphere that could only be described as utterly Seuss-esque.

The theater productions put on by the Edina middle schools offer students fantastic opportunities to experience the work that goes into putting on a show, while collaborating with peers with whom they share a passion. “[Theater taught me] that with a lot of practice, anything can happen,” said Johnson. “It helps you make awesome friends and learn about talents you never knew you had!” The middle school thespians are able to learn from each other and their directors during their several months of rehearsal, after which they can present a show which they are proud of. Being in shows at the middle school introduces several Edina students to what could become a passion of theirs in the future. “I plan to continue theater throughout high school,” said Bartolomei. “It’s something I love to do and I really enjoy it…[Theater] gave me the most meaningful moments in middle school I could ever ask for.”

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Disappointing Outcome for the EHS Thespians at the Minnesota Thespian Festival

One Act Play "The Jar" Won't be Performed at the ITF Due to a Technicality

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Every year, the Minnesota Thespian Festival takes place over President’s Day weekend. It is a conference for high school students from all over the state who participate in their school’s theater programs and productions. Students can take workshops and classes, and compete in individual events with songs or monologues for awards and for the chance to move on to compete at the International Thespian Conference, or ITF. They can audition for colleges and college scholarships, and attend shows like the All-State Show,  Guthrie BFA performances, and one act plays brought by high schools from around the state. One play wins first place for best performance each year which gives them the opportunity to bring the one act to ITF.   

This year, Edina High School brought a one act called “The Jar.” The play is about an Italian olive farm, the people who work there, and a jar they buy to hold the olives they pick. The family runs into trouble when the jar mysteriously breaks and one of them tries to fix it but gets stuck inside during the process. The cast got to perform in the Dowling Studio at the Guthrie on the second day of the conference.

The performance was a hit; the characters were vibrant and the audience never stopped laughing. The students did a fantastic job of bringing their characters to life and they interacted with each other wonderfully. They were well rehearsed, moved quickly between scenes and used the space and time efficiently to ensure there was never a dull moment during the performance. It was obvious that the judges agreed because later that evening in the closing award ceremony it was announced that “The Jar” had won first place.

But after a few moments as the crowd began to quiet down the announcer then went on to explain that there was a rule that if a school was alreading bringing a show as a Mainstage to ITF then they couldn’t bring a one act as well, and because EHS was already bringing it’s winter play, “Peter and the Starcatcher” to ITF as a Mainstage show, they wouldn’t be allowed to bring “The Jar.” The slot was given to the second place winners, Centennial High School who brought “The Sparrow.” The cast of The Jar agreed that this situation was handled terribly. “It felt embarrassing, the announcer deliberately paused to let us celebrate for so long before breaking the news that we wouldn’t be able to go to ITF,” said Megan Henderson, a cast member who played “Don Lolo” in “The Jar.”  They gave the cast and crew no warning that this was a rule in the first place, and no warning that they had won but wouldn’t be able to attend. The directors of “The Jar” weren’t even aware of the situation before it was publicly announced at the ceremony. “Our biggest issue was that no one told us about the rule. We felt that the International Thespians or the MN Thespians should have informed us of the rule, considering that Edina is the only school in the state taking a Mainstage. When they saw that we were also submitting a one act, that should’ve raised a red flag,” said Rutger Henriksen, a cast member in “The Jar” who played “Friend Pe.”

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The cast and crew of “The Jar” put on an amazing show, and was given the opportunity to perform in a beautiful space at a prestigious theater. But they were blindsided by this technicality and it turned a celebratory moment for the thespians of EHS into one of sadness and frustration, and created unwanted tension between the casts of “Peter and the Starcatcher” and “The Jar.” However, it doesn’t change the fact that the cast of “The Jar” performed beautifully and put on an amazing show. They represented EHS with pride, and rightfully earned first place and what should’ve been the chance to bring this show to ITF.                     

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Peter and the Starcatcher Opening During Finals

photo courtesy of edinatheater.org

photo courtesy of edinatheater.org

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*All quotes from this article are directly taken from the show’s script.

Good old finals, a time for students to suffocate and teachers to cringe, parents to faint at the mere sight of a report card. Younger siblings scoff and laugh, but little do they know that in a few short years they will be exactly where you’re now standing: on the brink of insanity. This year the dates of finals have sadly changed so not only do finals fall after winter break, (because just when we thought we’d make it, the universe decided to prove us wrong) but they also fall on the same week as Edina High School’s Winter Play: Peter and the Starcatcher. How cruel the world is to the misfits, those who decided to be brave and venture onto the stage are now being brutally punished. Delia Bush, or Teacher Mermaid agrees. “Yeah, life is complicated,” she said. Ben Weiman, or Captain Black Stache says it’s a dilemma, “the Cadillac Escalade of dilemmas if you will.” So what is it like for the actors of the winter play during the week of both the show and finals?

Well, it starts with tech week, the week going into the opening of a show. This means that every rehearsal is in real time as if it were the day of the show, so rehearsals don’t start right after school, the actors are called at 5:00 instead. This gives them exactly one hour and 50 minutes to get out of that nasty pit of Hell called the parking lot where Captain Black Stache has been known to yell “it’s all about you isn’t it! Selfy self self!” at other cars trying to get in his way, race home, stuff their faces with a quick meal, get out their textbooks to study and, oh, look at the time, you’re already late. Time to get back to school and arrive just in time to put on costumes and makeup, get your hair done, get your microphones taped to your face, warm up, check your props, and run the show promptly at 7:00. The show is run head to toe, and finished at about 9:45 and then the actors can head home for an evening of studying and some sleep. “NO!” said Abigail Swoap, or Molly Aster. Mr. Matthes, the director, has notes for everyone. Alright the actors pop a squat on the stage and listen as they are given corrections, encouragement, or praise, and finally it’s time to head home. “NO WAIT!” said Dylan Rickard, or Peter, Mama Hill has notes concerning costumes, hair and makeup and kindly reminds us to fold things and put them away neatly. And then all that is left to be done is put props and sets away, get mic’s taken off, undress, put costumes away, undo your hair, and head on out. “Mission fulfilled, were going home,” said Leonard Aster. It is now almost 11:00, you’re finally home, and ready for a speedy collapse on your bed. “But you can forget about sleep,” says Black Stache, you have to study.

How do these poor artists cope with the unfortunate reality that is now an inevitable F on all of their finals? Some are still confident in their studying skills, like Black Stache. “[Good studying habits] it’s the trademark of every man, woman and child in me family dating right back to the ameba,” he said. Jack Gilbert, or Smee seemed very certain that his idol would power through these hard times and found joy in often cheering him on. “YEAH! BLACK STACHE BLACK STACHE!” said Smee, and Black Stache, wanting to show gratitude would screech back “THANK YOU SMEE!”

Some are not as confidant or friendly yet they still are courageous and are spreading the word to get some thicker skin. Elizabeth Schuetzle, or Mrs. Bumbrake has been known to do just that. “Shut the faucet… blubbering like a whale when the world’s your oyster,” she said. She believes the cast will make it through and was overheard telling fellow cast member Adam Hecker, or Alf to “ride this wreckage, Romeo!” Molly Aster agrees. “We [actors] cannot afford to be sentimental, we must instead be strong,” she said. Many cast members also suddenly break into song, and sing to each other “swim on against the current, swim on against the sea, though the tide may turn against you, though to strong the tide may be” to keep their spirits up.  

A few cast members have taken a different approach. Hallie Robinson, or Teddy, and Gabe Brosius, or Prentiss both seem to be going insane and are having hallucinations. “I’m just a kid, I’m not responsible!… Help I’m lost!… Which way is down?… Hi, I’m 16, I’m beautiful, and I’m in the market for something long term,” said Prentiss. “Help, Gorillas!… Help I’m hungry!… mmmhhh… Pork… ohhh, sticky pudding,” said Teddy. Some cast member are driving themselves to insanity by self medicating. Teacher Mermaid gave us the inside scoop. “You’re likely wondering what we’ve had to drink now, and you may think, now they’ve gone too far. But something we should not have been exposed to, we got too close to,” she said.    

There is no doubt that cast members are afraid, this became clear when many actors suddenly shouted “DISASTER, DESTRUCTION, DEVASTATION!” when asked how finals week was going so far. Peter seems to have run away and abandon the show completely. “Don’t worry Peter, wherever you are I’ll find you!” said Molly. But Prentiss is less optimistic and claims that “the mollusks [the natives of Neverland] got him.”

All in all it’s a bad week for the thespians of EHS but many cast members are trying to distract themselves by wondering who could have wanted to play this cruel joke on them by placing the show and finals in the same week. Stache says to whoever it is “you’re killing my buzz boy, to which I say die!… I’m Gonna find you!” he said. Ella Williams, or Slank and Alf both agree that whoever they are they’re “a good for nothing bucket of scum.” Molly Aster says that they must be “evil or greedy like Genghis Khan, or they’re hungry for world domination like Caesar or Napoleon or Donald Trump.” No matter who made the change in the first place, these actors are in complete agreement that the misery must end.    

 

Edina High School and director Tony Matthes were invited to be one of the first high schools in the country to perform this show, so go see it!

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Review of Crazy for You

photo courtesy of edinatheater.org

photo courtesy of edinatheater.org

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Edina High School’s fall musical, Crazy for You, features many talented thespians, dancers, singers, and musicians alike. Starring talented juniors Jack Fischer (as Bobby Child) and Maxine McCormick (as Polly Baker), the musical is set in a small town in rural Nevada during the 1930’s.

Protagonist Bobby Child, the son of a wealthy banker, journeys from New York City to Nevada to foreclose on a bank, where he falls in love with sassy Polly Baker. Through many jazzy tunes and several outstanding dance numbers, the audience follows young Bobby as he attempts to woo Polly by impersonating a famous elderly choreographer.

McCormick’s excellent Nevadan accent helped establish the setting, and her many witty jokes had the audience in stitches. However, it was her spectacular singing voice that left the audience speechless. McCormick has been taking voice lessons for 5 years and has been dancing for 13 years. Her training certainly showed during her solos. The elderly woman sitting next to me during the musical was in tears after listening to McCormick’s voice during “Not for Me”.

Similarly, Fischer had the audience roaring with laughter, and his tap dancing was amazing. His opening solo, a combination of complicated tap moves and powerful vocals, started the show with a bang.  His ability to switch between a Nevadan accent and an Eastern European accent was also very impressive. Additionally, his role was difficult to act; Bobby is charming yet quite uncertain of his future. Not surprisingly, Fischer effectively portrayed all of these emotions.

The vibrant costumes and colorful set were both artfully designed. Neither the lighting nor the audio had a single flaw. Overall, the production felt very professional. The pit orchestra was excellent, adding  to the production without stealing the spotlight.

Crazy for You is sure to entertain most audiences. However,  there are several swear words in the script which might not be appropriate for elementary school age audience members. Additionally, the song “What Causes That” was slightly insensitive towards depression as well as suicide. At one point, the number mocks the idea of a character jumping off of the Brooklyn Bridge by joking that he is so upset after being rejected by a girl.

That being said, there’s no doubt in my mind that the production deserved its standing ovation. It was truly an excellent performance, and another grand success for the Edina thespians.

Make sure to go to one of the shows this week! November 12-14 at 7:00 pm and November 14th at 1:00 pm.

This article will also be present in our print issue that comes out on November 20th. 

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“The Odd Couple” Brings a Big Twist

Nate Saunders

Nate Saunders

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This Thursday, Edina High School thespians will present the play “The Odd Couple”. This isn’t your typical production, as it will be divided into a male and female version, both playing on different nights. Zephyrus recently caught up with senior Emily Gardner who is in the male version of “The Odd Couple”.

Zephyrus: What is the play about?

Emily Gardner: It’s about Felix Unger, a recently divorced man, who moves in with his friend Oscar. Felix and Oscar have opposite personalities and lifestyles. In the female version, the main character’s names are Florence and Olive. They’re the same people, they just have opposite genders. It’s really just about two friends chilling in New York. Think “Friends”, but better.

Zephyrus: Who do you play?

E.G.: Gwendolyn Pigeon who is a somewhat attractive British sister who lives in the same apartment building as Felix (Rutger Henriksen) and Oscar (Alex Kaufman).

Emily Gardner is pictured.

Emily Gardner is pictured.

Zephyrus: Why should people go see this play?

E.G.: Because it was really famous from the 60s to the 80s, and it’s hilarious. I can guarantee that you’ll laugh.

Zephyrus: What’s the best part of the play?

E.G.: Rutger [Henriksen].

Zephyrus: How does it work having two different versions of the play?

E.G.: The guy who wrote “The Odd Couple” saw a lot of success with his first play, so he wrote a female version with the same plot, and reversed genders. The male version is Thursday night and Saturday night. The female version is Friday night and Saturday night.

Zephyrus: Which one do you prefer?

E.G.: They are both really good, but I’m biased to the one I’m in, so the male version.

What to Expect From “12 Angry Jurors”

This weekend, EHS thespians will put on the one-act play "12 Angry Jurors".

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Every year, the Edina High School thespians present a one-act play in the winter. This year, they will put on “12 Angry Jurors”, which is a modified and updated version of the once all-white and all-male play entitled “12 Angry Men”.

After performing at EHS, the cast and crew will take the show to the Minnesota State High School League One-Act Play Competition, along with the Minnesota Thespian Conference to compete for awards.

EHS teacher Fred Cheng will direct the play alongside Theater Director Tony Matthes. “12 Angry Jurors” will be shown on Jan. 23rd and 24th at 7 p.m. at the Edina Performing Arts Center.

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“Little Shop of Horrors” Review

Photo courtesy of EHS Thespians

Photo courtesy of EHS Thespians

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The talent of the Edina High School Thespians is unquestionable, but when combined with an amazing story that fits the group as a whole, it creates something on a whole new level. That is exactly the effect that their latest production, “Little Shop of Horrors”, achieved when I went to go see it. It was definitely a great decision.

“Little Shop of Horrors” was perhaps one of Edina’s best shows I’ve seen yet. I don’t think I have ever laughed and cried from laughing so much in my life. The plot is perfectly ridiculous. I won’t give any spoilers, but it may or may not involve a giant carnivorous plant, a malicious dentist, and senior Max Kile dressed as a woman (which was worth the price of a ticket alone).

What I really loved about the show was that every single actor and actress was amazing. Not one minor character or chorus member was even remotely mediocre. At one point, I even attempted to spot a character who was even slightly out of character, and I could not. They were all good singers too. My biggest pet peeve is when you go to a musical and the chorus is out of pitch, but they were completely spot-on.

One of Edina’s best shows I’ve seen yet”

I have to give a shout out to a few characters who really made the show. The Doo-Wop girls, the fabulous group of six singers who seemed to appear out of nowhere, and break out into song, were probably my favorite characters. They could only be described as some kind of combination of the Spice Girls and Dreamgirls but somehow with more style.

Another well-deserved shout out goes to the amazing costumes and makeup. The costumes were a perfect compliment to the show’s plot, and only made it better.

One character that I also loved was the Dentist, played by junior Luke Eidsvold, who was humorously sadistic. He made you laugh and cringe at the same time. I have never loved and hated a character as much as him. The acting by the other leads played by Abigail Swoap, Dylan Rickard, and Alex Kaufman was phenomenal, and they made for perfect choices for the leads.

All in all, I honestly can’t think of hardly anything to criticize, although I have to say I was a little disappointed Max Kile’s prostitute character wasn’t made a bigger role. “Little Shop of Horrors” has an amazing cast, amazing crew, and ended up being one of the best shows I’ve seen at Edina in a long time. If you have plans this weekend I would suggest canceling them because you have got to see this show!

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Royal Ballet’s “Manon” Review

A+scene+from+%22Manon%22+performed+by+the+Royal+Ballet.
A scene from

A scene from "Manon" performed by the Royal Ballet.

Tristram Kenton

Tristram Kenton

A scene from "Manon" performed by the Royal Ballet.

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The ballet “Manon” was perfected at the Royal Opera House last Thursday night. The Royal Ballet is a renowned institute of classical ballet that is based in the Royal Opera House in London. It is one of the most prestigious academies that most dancers dream to be a part of. Marianela Núñez and Federico Bonelli are two of the most fantastic dancers that brought “Manon” to life.

Núñez, who played the show’s protagonist named Manon, is an Argentinian ballerina who signed onto the Royal Ballet in 2002 as a principal dancer. Her graceful movements amazed me. Not once did I see her quiver, or break character. Her flexible limbs flowed into each step, and moved in ways I never thought possible. Her perfection of ballet is one that I, as a ballerina, can only dream of. Her emotion and passion that flowed through each movement made me gasp, and awe at how easy she made it all seem. Núñez’s 29 years of technique training, and long rehearsal hours have payed off. She danced on the top of her toes effortlessly for three hours.

Alongside Núñez was her male partner, Bonelli, who played Des Grieux, Manon’s romancer. Bonelli is an Italian ballerino who joined the Royal Ballet in 2003. Bonnelli, with his flawless technique and strong partnering skills, was the perfect person to play Des Grieux. He whipped out eight turns without faltering, and his jumps were so high I could imagine him flying straight off of the stage. Throughout the ballet, Des Grieux acted as comforter, and love interest for Manon. He did everything in his power to save Manon, and this showed through Bonelli’s dancing. Bonelli’s constant passion, and powerful force that he brought to the stage was a joy to see.

The Royal Ballet’s incredible dancers had me in tears by the third act. I highly recommend going to see the Royal Ballet on Feb. 10th as they will be performing Swan Lake.

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A One Act Play: “Rhinoceros”

EHS Thespians

EHS Thespians

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Tonight, Edina High School’s One Act Play, “Rhinoceros,” premieres at 7:00 pm in the Edina Performing Arts Center. In honor of the premiere, Zephyrus stopped the play’s director and EHS English teacher, Fred Cheng, for a quick interview on the cast, the rehearsal process of the play, and why everyone should go and see it.

Zephyrus: Who are the leads in the play?

Fred Cheng: Soph Wright has the largest role, but it’s really an enable cast. So I don’t really like to say ‘leads.’

Zephyrus: Will you give me a sentence on what is the play about?

F.C.: People in a French village start to turn into rhinoceri. It comes from theater of the absurd.

Zephyrus: When did rehearsals start?

F.C.: We’ve been rehearsing about everyday since the end of November.

Zephyrus: Is the play still competing at the One Act Regionals?

F.C.: It’s been rescheduled for Saturday.

Zephyrus: How do you think you’ll do?

F.C.: It’s hard to say how well do. Judging is very subjective, it’s hard to predict the outcome.

Zephyrus: Anything else that you want us to know about the play?

F.C.: The musical is usually the production that gets the most attention, but these plays, the One Act and the winter play have very talented students as well, everyone should come out and see what we’re doing!

The show runs tonight and tomorrow at 7:00 pm in EPAC. For only $6 ($8 for adults), come check it out and support the thespians!

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