ESHS drama students to perform musical May 14-15

Thursday, May 13, 2021
Eureka Springs High School sophomore Meredith Loudermilk, left, helps senior Charlia Sisco and sophomore Jayden Thompson choose costumes for the school's upcoming performance of Singin' in the Rain.

The Eureka Springs High School drama department will present two showings of the classic musical, Singin' in the Rain, at 7 p.m. Friday, May 14, and Saturday, May 15, in the high school auditorium.

Sophomore Joa Murray described the plot of the musical, saying she portrays Lina, one of the double-casted roles. The musical is set in the 1920s when silent films become "talking movies," Murray said, and the leading lady, Lina, can't sing or act. The only way the show can go on, Murray said, is if Lina's audio is dubbed over by a talented singer.

"That means the real singer has to conceal her identity," Murray said. "There's a lot of turmoil."

Senior Celia Stodden, who also portrays Lina, said she's excited to perform her last high school musical. Stodden said she's generally played the "damsel in distress" type of character, so she's enjoyed portraying a more villainous character.

"You have to channel different emotions," Stodden said. "I've never gotten to be angry or conniving before, so it's cool to channel different emotions in that way."

Freshman Cosmo Echelly said this is the first musical he's ever performed in. He began attending Eureka Springs High School last fall, Echelly said, and immediately signed up for theater class. He portrays Dexter in the musical.

"It's a little intimidating but it's something I always wanted to do," Echelly said. "I always wanted to, but I never had the chance until now."

Sophomore Jayden Thompson and senior Charlia Sisco are taking on multiple roles. They both serve as extras during big dance scenes, and Sisco portrays the teacher. Sisco said she also serves as a stage hand, and Thompson said she helps sing backstage when she's not in a scene. This musical is special, Sisco said, because drama teacher Rick Mann double-casted roles for the first time.

"It's interesting to see how that's been rehearsed, because we have two people in several roles," Sisco said. "That's why we are performing it four times this year: twice for the student body and twice for the public."

Sophomore Meredith Loudermilk won't be singing or dancing, but she has a major hand in executing the musical numbers. Loudermilk said she is running the sound booth, something she's discovered a deep passion for since becoming involved in the drama department.

"This is my second musical, but it's the first time I'm running all the sound on my own," Loudermilk said. "I love working with technology and drama brought me the chance to work with some sound equipment and, occasionally, I get to mess with the light equipment."

Loudermilk added, "This is the perfect opportunity for me to dip my feet into the water and see if this is something I could do as a career."

Putting on a musical during the COVID-19 pandemic has presented unique challenges, including wearing a mask while rehearsing song and dance numbers.

"It's definitely been a lot harder on the dancers and we've had to take more breaks, because it's harder to take in bigger breaths with the masks on," Sisco said. "But I'd say we've done pretty well with it."

"Watching them perform, you can tell it's harder for them to interact because they have to be spaced out, and the masks are a huge breathing problem for us," Loudermilk said.

Even with the pandemic, Thompson said, the atmosphere during rehearsal is always vibrant.

"It's happy and calm and good in general," Thompson said.

"It's pretty playful," Sisco said. "We have a lot of laughs."

Murray said she loves seeing her fellow classmates enjoy themselves during rehearsal.

"It's funny to see them sing and get loud and be goofy rather than just sitting and taking notes in class," Murray said. "You see a different side of people. You get a different perspective."

Echelly said he joined the drama department so he could start to come out of his shell.

"I've always been super antisocial and quiet, and I want to get out of that," Echelly said. "Here, you have to be loud and put yourself out there. I'm getting there."

For Murray, theater is in her blood. Murray said her mother and grandmother were both actresses. She's been in plays and musicals since age 3, Murray said.

"I haven't done a play since COVID and I'm excited to get back out there," Murray said. "I love it. I love it so much."

Sisco agreed, saying she loves being part of the drama department.

"In theater, you can become a different character and feel different emotions than you usually would," Sisco said. "You get to just fully develop yourself into this character."

Murray encouraged everyone to come see the musical.

"We've had so much loss this year with COVID. We've lost a lot of programs. We've lost a lot of privileges, so this is just a way to bring the community back together and uplift their spirits for the start of summer," Murray said. "We're not just an average high school theater company. We have unique people that have unique talents, and we're ready to put on the show."

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