In spring 2011, Michigan’s South Lyon East High School will stage their own production of The Phantom of The Opera, after performance rights were last year released to US high schools and colleges.
The upcoming production follows a great run of shows, and – as the students and staff will be blogging for us in the run-up to their Phantom – here, Director of Theatre Donna Kupper gives us an overview on their first-ever school production – of Cats!
Four years ago, we opened a beautiful, new theatre and started a brand new drama program at South Lyon East High School in South Lyon, Michigan. I had retired two years previously, and my friend, the Principal, couldn’t find anyone to enjoy this position. Missing “my kids” and missing what I love to do best, I chose to “un-retire!” We had freshmen and sophomores only and approximately 400 students. Knowing that we had to build from the bottom up, we did Clue? in the fall. Double casting insured that almost 32 students got a chance to feel the grease paint. But what were we going to do for a spring musical gave almost the entire cast a chance to shine. Cats, of course! Having 14 and 15 years olds that had for all intents and purposes never sung or danced, had the pessimists saying, “It can’t be done.” That was all the challenge we needed! Not only did we do it, but we delivered a Broadway-style set, costumes and make up, wigs and tails – created by the combination of local artists and raw talent of our parent group. People were blown away! We started a parent organization second to none; they couldn’t wait to get involved and to see the end product of their hard work and creativity.
I have found that if you believe in young people, they deliver and then some. I ask, “Why not?” – not “Can we?” As we begin our journey to open Phantom of the Opera in May, we will once again show what can be done when you believe in yourselves and your abilities. What a magical and challenging musical to tackle! We now have seniors and our student body has doubled, but we are still not a high school for the arts. As I see it, my job as a director is to offer my budding Thespians the best quality of theatre with the most varied challenges and let them step up to the plate. We have a winning team here at South Lyon East, and no one could be prouder!
Stay tuned for our Phantom blog, which will begin early spring, and follow the process – from pre-production through rehearsals, and of course, the performances.
– Donna Kupper, Director of Theatre
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