Off to the Ball

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Off to the Ball

Peyton Godfrey practices dancing at the royal ball during rehearsals of the musical.

Peyton Godfrey practices dancing at the royal ball during rehearsals of the musical.

Peyton Godfrey practices dancing at the royal ball during rehearsals of the musical.

Peyton Godfrey practices dancing at the royal ball during rehearsals of the musical.

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For high school students with aspirations of acting as a career, the spring musical is an incredible way to showcase their talent. This year’s show, chosen carefully by Curtis Shaw, show choir and theater director, is the distinguished Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella”, starring Peyton Godfrey (12) as Cinderella, Autumn Harlan (10) as the Fairy Godmother, Khira Hickbottom (12) as the Stepmother and Aidan Ocken (12) as Prince Charming.

Crafting a nearly-flawless show is a lengthy and strenuous task. Musical theater involves singing, dancing and acting, and the three components must be learned separately before coming together. While the musical does not open until the end of April, rehearsals began mid-March.

Rehearsals go by section: first, vocal rehearsals for the ensemble and the principal roles are held; second, blocking – learning where to stand and move on the stage – is practiced; third, the actors begin to learn their non-sung lines; and lastly, the entire cast and crew works together to increase the speed until it’s at the level they want.

“We go in sections. We start with the music, and then, we move on to blocking on the stage,” Ocken said. “Throughout that process, we start learning our lines and slowly start incorporating the movement and getting the show faster and smoother until we’re at the level we want to be at.”

Because Shaw directs both Homestead theater and show choir, there are many connections between the two in terms of members.

“If (Shaw) knows you, there’s a better chance that he’s going to consider you for parts because he knows that you’re dedicated to the groups and you have the skills needed,” Ocken said. “But he doesn’t base solely off of that – it’s also a question of if you’re good enough to be in the musical.”

Another thing taken into account is the experience and dedication a student has to the theater; the more years of theater credits to their name, the better.

“I started Homestead theater my freshman year and I’ve been productions every year since then,” Ocken said.

While most students have not strayed from school productions, some have pursued other companies to act.

“I used to do the Fort Wayne Youtheatre since fifth grade,” Godfrey said. “I did the fifth grade musical and then I didn’t do any productions in middle school except Youtheatre.”

While the fall play and the spring musical are not necessarily connected, a few musical participants take part in the play productions.

“I did the musical my freshman year, so this is my fourth year,” Hickbottom said. “I also got involved with the plays last year.”

Because musicals involve singing, dancing and acting, it is hard for actors to tackle all three. An actor must be able to master every components, or at least fake it.

“Playing Cinderella is my own personal challenge, because I’m not the most graceful person in the world and I constantly have to be in posture during the rehearsal,” Godfrey said. “I’m not a good dancer, either, so that’s also a struggle for me.”

An crucial part of acting is being able to understand or relate to one’s character, but not all actors feel that they are able to identify with the role they play.

“Playing the Stepmother means I have to be really mean,” Hickbottom said. “It’s a lot of yelling at Peyton, but it’s kind of funny to yell at someone I like, so it’s not too hard.”

To be a successful actor, one must put themselves in a variety of roles so that they are very versatile and able to portray different personalities.

“Last year, in Anything Goes, I was Billy Crocker, and it was a hard role because I didn’t identify with him a lot; he was a very different person than I see myself. I had to learn how to be somebody else,” Ocken said.

While some actors go on to pursue careers or spend college in the theater, not all would like to continue on that path.

“I definitely will continue to do theater and music, but I’m not sure if I want to make it the center of my life,” Ocken said. “It’s definitely something that I could continue to do if I want.”

Some choose to focus on their favorite part of theater in college instead.

“I’m going to Jacobs School of Music to study jazz vocals, so I am planning to continue singing,” Godfrey said. “I probably won’t continue with theater, though.”

For some, the experience is stressful enough that they choose to leave the acting business. altogether.

“I used to want to do theatre for a career, but I don’t want to do it anymore,” Hickbottom said. “I might do it in college, or for fun, but not for life.”

Despite the many challenges musical theatre brings, the payoff of gaining new friends and skills throughout the 8-9 weeks is always beneficial to the young high school actors and actresses.

“My favorite part of theatre is the people,” Godfrey said. “The people in performing arts are always the most welcoming people that you meet, as well as the most accepting.”

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