On April 20th and 21st, the St. Mark’s Musical Theatre Club ran a production of Hairspray. It was an impressive display of planning, insight, and leadership by student leaders: Shelby Howard, Cait Lochhead, Jack Griffin, Jonathan Shakespeare, Reevie Fenstermacher, and Katherine Ewald. They took the beloved musical and adapted it to our black box theater. Talent, hard work, and humor combined to make a very enjoyable show that represented many different groups in our student body. In the following interview the leaders discuss their roles and how certain aspects of the show came together.
What were your expectations going into the musical this year? How had the musical last year shaped them?
Shelby: Last year it was super fun. I had done it with a lot of us just for fun, kind of, as trying something new, and then after show last year Ellis had said, “Hey, do you want to join,” to me, Reevie, John, and Jack, “and maybe help lead the musical next year?” And I was like, “Sure, I can help with a couple things, maybe help organize.” So those were my expectations. I thought it would be pretty small and I wasn’t going to do that much. But it ended up that we all had to do a lot and it became a big commitment for all of us.
Jack: Last year I didn’t really do much but I saw all of the things that Ellis did, so I thought it was going to be a big step up. It was really hectic the last few weeks and it took a lot of time, but it was definitely worth it just like I expected it to be.
Reevie: I would say that it was as I expected. Going in I knew that it would be a lot of work and a lot of time.
Cait: Yeah, last year I went to probably about two rehearsals and then two dress rehearsals, but over the course of two weeks this year I went to more than last year. It was definitely more hectic than last year but so worth it.
What is something you’re proud of?
Reevie: (immediately) The way it turned out, definitely.
Reevie: That was such a great turnout with the audience and how excited they were about it all, especially the first night. There was such a huge crowd and the energy was really, really fun. It turned out to be such a good show.
Jack: I was amazed at how proper of a show it was. Last year it was run by Ellis, who was on Broadway. This year it was six of us, and some of us have acting experience but I still thought it was going to be a little more thrown together. But it turned out that it was actually a more proper show and I was impressed that everyone came together.
Shelby: I’m proud of the cast that we had. I think it’s awesome to be able to put something together where a lot of different types of people can contribute to one product. I would even say the musical might be one of the few student clubs on campus that can represent our school. I’m glad it was a really good representation of our student body. And I think it’s great that we showed how we can all have fun together. Also so proud that it was basically completely student-led.
What is something unexpected that you were very happy about?
Reevie: That it came together.
Shelby: I think we all had that thought.
Jack: I didn’t expect to get to use the mop as a mic, I was very excited about that.
Cait: Honestly, I was not expecting everyone to work together as well as we did. Some people felt very strongly about the way they wanted the show to go. Even in the very beginning it was hard to choose the musical. Everyone had different opinions so I was not sure what to expect in terms of making the smart decisions about props, casting and all that stuff.
Shelby: But getting a stage crew, that was so unexpected. That was one of the many things that just hit us. We were like, “Crap! We need to actually get people who can like, play the music!”
Shelby: It was like, “I can’t do these things because I have to be on the stage!” It was moments like that that were so unexpected.
Cait: Since Ellis did everything last year, we weren’t necessarily expecting it to be so stressful having six of us and having the stage crew and having all of the actors commit to it. I didn’t think it was going to be as stressful or that there would be as many moving pieces because he handled it so well last year.
How would you describe the cast?
Reevie: I would say very diverse in the people’s personalities. Some gave it their all because they wanted a good show and some people were just there to have fun. It all came together eventually, which I think the audience could tell from the performances. There were definitely those who were more committed than others, but everyone ended up pulling their weight at the end, no matter how close to the end it was. (haha)
Cait: I think it was interesting because there was a role for everybody. I could not see anyone else playing the gym teacher.
Cait: Everyone played their part so well and I think it was because everyone had these different energies and personalities that they brought to the table.
Shelby: I would describe our cast as very willing to try new things. They adapted so well. As we got closer to the show certain things would fall through or we would lose some people, but our cast was just very willing to go with the flow. If we had very headstrong and stubborn people the show wouldn’t have gone on, but because people were ready to change and do what was best for the show it ended up being really great. There was a strong sense of teamwork and selflessness.
Finally, in the coming years, what is something you would love to achieve?
Jack: A Tony.
Shelby: Definitely a Saturday class.
Cait: With other things, such as acapella, there’s a huge amount of time to prepare but right before the show it still feels like you’re going to freak out. I know that’s still going to happen with this but maybe in future years there’s a way to dress rehearsal week a week or two before. So we’re not as freaked out because it does come together and it will come together but it’s a little less stressful. Ooh, and we should get help with props early on. Our props were really, really good but it was so rushed.
Jack: I’d love to see the cast help out. It would be fun if we got everyone together.
Reevie: That’s what we do for the school productions, everyone helps build the set. That’s what I thought was going to happen but a lot of people couldn’t make it.
Shelby: I want there to be a legacy of the musical. I want it to continue past us. So when we come to our reunions we see if it’s still awesome and it’s still alive. There were musical productions at St. Mark’s before us, but if this could be something established I think that would be amazing. Also to see how it evolves over the years.
Overall, the musical was a smashing success. The leaders worked together to create a wonderful rendition of a classic musical. It was clear that they were all invested in making the best show that they could. I am certain that in years to come the St. Mark’s community will again be entertained by this newfound tradition.