Drama to perform 2 musicals this year

Curtains close for straight plays

“Mamma Mia,” here we go again. Oak Park High School is set to put on two musicals this year instead of the typical one musical and one straight play.

This fall, the production is “Mamma Mia” and in the spring drama will be performing “Chicago.” “Mamma Mia” opens October 24 and will continue through October 26 in the Pavilion.

This was a decision made by Video Production and drama teacher and director Allan Hunt. Choir teacher Heidi-Choral Cissell is a big fan of “Mamma Mia” and Hunt wanted to do the musical for her. Due to logistics when trying to acquire the rights to the play, drama could only perform the show during fall.

“We try to do a little careful research in choosing a show,” Hunt said.

Another production of “Mamma Mia” is being put on in the spring at another location which prevented Oak Park Performing Arts from acquiring the rights in spring.

However, according to Principal Kevin Buchanan, the school band could not set aside six weeks in the fall to orchestrate the musical because they are too busy.

Without the band’s involvement, a tape of the instrumental music pieces is played instead of the live orchestra. “It’s wonderful. It’s lush sounding but it’s totally recorded,” Hunt said.

“We still wanted band involved in the musical,” Buchanan said. “We had tried to get the rights to “Chicago” many, many times … and for some reason, all of [a] sudden “Chicago” open[ed] up this year.”

This is not the first time that drama has done more than one musical, but it has not been done in recent years.

“We decided to go from our usual practice of one straight play and one musical,” Hunt said.

Although the spring play is not typically a musical, Hunt believes it will not affect the audience turn out in any way.

However, some students are not thrilled about the double musicals and prefer the usual one musical and one straight play.

“I enjoy [straight] plays more than musicals. I feel like sometimes musicals break out into songs too often,” senior Eden Eliahou said.

According to Hunt, “Mamma Mia” has many pivotal male rolls in it.

“I’m really lucky to have a principal role because it was my first time auditioning for the musical,” senior Preston Green said.

Green, who has been part of choir for three years, is playing the role of the Sky Rymand, the fiancé (later husband) of the protagonist Sophie Sheridan.

“[It] is really exciting because I have the opportunity to do two musicals,” Green said.

According to Hunt, he prefers to not separate from the original piece or add/subtract any musical numbers or scenes because it’s what the audience expects from an Oak Park production.

“We take pride in really recreating what the show says in the script,” Hunt said. “That’s what our audiences can always count on.”