In a break in a rehearsal March 14 for an upcoming school musical, Warrensburg High School vocal and drama instructor Jim Corriveau offers instruction to cast members. The Warrensburg Drama Club will be presenting Corriveau’s contemporary musical adaptation of ‘The Princess Bride’ nightly from Thursday March 27 through Saturday March 29 at the high school.
Interrupting a rehearsal for a school musical, Warrensburg Drama Club coach Jim Corriveau jumped onstage and instructed an actor.
“The audience has to feel your passion at this moment,” he said, gesturing as he stared into the actor’s eyes. “You have to ‘live’ the part.”
Minutes later, he was back on the stage, gyrating amongst several dozen student actors and actresses in a dance number set to a classic rock anthem, demonstrating the energy they should all put into their moves.
Warrensburg High School Senior Logan Webster watched him dance with abandon, and he smiled.
“Mr. Corriveau is so energetic and really ‘into’ this — every motion, every gesture has to be ‘just right,’” he said. “He has this vision for each show, and he always makes it happen.”
On three nights next week, Thursday through Saturday March 29, a crowd will see the results of three months of such high-energy rehearsals, as “The Princess Bride” is performed.
No less than 75 students are involved in the production of The Princess Bride, a hit adventure fantasy movie that Corriveau adapted for the stage. He added a new dimension — classic & contemporary rock songs, backed up by a live jazz-rock ensemble of skilled musicians.
After pounding out an accompaniment on piano in the March 14 rehearsal, Corriveau bounded onstage to offer more instruction. In a staged melee, Blake Vaisey was twirling Garry Ross above his head so Ross’ feet would appear to strike Jacob Johnson in the face.
“Snap your head back, absorb some of the blow,” Corriveau barked at Johnson. “And you’ve got to wince to convince the audience.”
The trio repeated the scene, and the collision looked and realistic, prompting cheers from the cast.
“Okay, now you’ve got it,” Corriveau said.
Webster watched Johnson hit the floor as the collision was repeated.
“Mr. Corriveau definitely has high standards — nothing can be just ‘whatever.’”
As Corriveau gulped some blue Gatorade, WCS Senior Whitney Marwica offered a comment. She plays Lady Joan, re-cast as a Valley Girl with narcolepsy. She also is a choreographer of the show, along with Gregan Callahan. This is her fifth year acting, singing and dancing in a drama production with Corriveau directing.
“These musicals are definitely a lot of work, but they end up so much fun,” she said. “Mr. Corriveau is a perfectionist, like insisting we kick our legs up high and point our toes — but the shows end up so good — and we always have a blast.
Since Corriveau joined the faculty of Warrensburg High in the late 1990s as vocal music director, Warrensburg’s drama productions have been acclaimed regionally for their dramatic substance, athletic dancing, emotionally-charged singing and professionally performed scores.
Corriveau, however, deferred credit this week to the actors and stage crew.
“The seniors in our drama club bring a high level of expectations to the rehearsals, a conviction of how we are a high-caliber team — and they inspire the younger students, conveying what we want to accomplish,” he said. “They know it’s unacceptable to go at it with half an effort — and it’s a lot more fun for everyone when they work up a sweat and get exhausted together.”
Vaisey, one of those actors who’s been in five of Corriveau’s productions, offered his thoughts.
“Being in these musicals, it’s an awesome experience — to go from where no one knows what the are doing in the early rehearsals, then ending up with an amazing show — it’s just incredible,” he said. “Through this process, we end up like family.”
Performances of The Princess Bride are on Thursday March 27, Friday March 28 and Saturday March 29, 7:30 p.m. each night night at Warrensburg High School, 103 Schroon River Road. Tickets are $8 for adults, and $6 for students and seniors 62 and older. For details, call Kelly Annis at 623-2861, ext. 222.