Warrensburg Central students Hunter Germain (left rear), Heather Wood (center) and Ashley Benz (right) rehearse a scene from the musical Godspell, which is to be presented March 30 through April 1 in the Warrensburg High School cafetorium. Nearly 85 students are involved in the production, which is one of 16 in the Capital Region participating in the National High School Musical Theatre Awards Program, conducted in central New York by the School of Performing Arts at Proctor’s Theater, Schenectady.
Photo by Thom Randall
WARRENSBURG — Every recent weekday, students at Warrensburg High School have been practicing five hours per day singing and dancing onstage as they rehearse the hit musical drama Godspell.
The students’ production of this classic show is to be presented Thursday March 30, Friday March 31 and Saturday April 1 in the Warrensburg High School cafetorium. All three shows are at 7 p.m.
The musical explores philosophical teachings and life-lessons through parables punctuated with exuberant singing and dancing. It was a remarkably popular off-Broadway show in the 1970s, and now considered a cultural milestone of the era. The Godspell score became a top-selling album.
Over the past 12 years, Warrensburg’s drama productions, coached by WCS choral instructor Jim Corriveau, have been acclaimed regionally for their dramatic substance, athletic dancing, powerful singing and compelling scores.
This year’s production follows that tradition while adding several new aspects, school officials and production members said this week.
Showcased in the production of Godspell will be the high calibre of the singing of three students — Hunter Germain, Moriah Nissen and Natalie Davey — who will be contending in All-State vocal competitions. Also, many of the songs feature complex six-part harmonies, sung with expertise by these students and other cast members.
WCS Senior Riley Fisk, who’s been in five of the WCS Drama Club’s shows since 7th grade, watched Corriveau leap onto the stage and urge cast members to bring their characters to life with emotional intensity.
“Mr. Corriveau has so much enthusiasm, and it brings us all together, like a family,” she said. “He really cares about us — he wants each of us to succeed and do our best.”
Senior Kately Allen, who has had roles in six WCS musicals and in four of the school’s Junior shows, said her experience in the productions has inspired her to pursue a career in theater education, coaching special needs students and helping them discover their yet-undiscovered talents as well as new avenues of artistic expression.
“Mr. Corriveau is amazing, how he inspires us so much,” Kately Allen said. “If we didn’t love him and the work we do on these productions, we would have all abandoned ship by now!”
Corriveau, in turn, watched and listened as six singers onstage sang in lilting, pitch-perfect harmony.
“These kids have a great work ethic,” he said. “From the beginning, they dug into this musical so hard.”
Underscoring Corriveau’s high standards is the fact that ensembles of skilled professional musicians annually accompany his shows, and this year is no exception. Also, the show’s choreography is directed by WCS dance instructor Laura Uhle.
New this year, is that the production is participating in the National High School Musical Theatre Awards Program.
Also known as the Jimmy Awards, this program is conducted in the Capital Region by the School of Performing Arts at Proctor’s Theater, which will be sending out an representative or two to experience the Godspell show for two days of its run — and the show will be judged on various criteria.
Fifteen other Capital Region schools, known for the quality of their theater programs, will be participating.
Each of the schools will be performing a portion of their show for the students from the other schools, Corriveau said.
“It’s not primarily about the competition, it’s really about this art form, and sharing it together,” he said. “Proctor’s is providing our area schools with a tremendous opportunity to experience musical theater,” he said.
Mikelean Allen, who is the show’s production coach and assistant director, said the show has an intriguing aspect of involving the audience.
“With members of the audience having the opportunity to play parts in the show, its different and fun,” she said.
The shows feature reserved seating. Call 623-2861 ext. 222 for advance tickets - adults: $9, students and seniors, $7. Tickets are also available at the door. Proceeds benefit the WCS Drama Club and help support future productions.