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Sandy Journal

“Music Man,” “Once Upon A Mattress” musicals set for Sandy high school stages

Oct 28, 2016 10:50AM ● By Julie Slama

Alta High School theater students perform on stage in Cedar City at the annual Utah Shakespeare High School Competition. (Linze Struiksma/Alta High School)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Sandy, Utah - This November, Sandy residents can support both Jordan High theater students presenting “Once Upon a Mattress” and the Alta High cast in “Music Man.”

Jordan High students will take the stage first, with 7 p.m. show times on Thursday, Nov. 10 through Saturday, Nov. 12 and again on Monday, Nov. 14 in their auditorium, 95 East Beetdigger Blvd. Tickets are available at the main office and at the door for $7.

Alta’s “Music Man” takes place the following weekend at 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 17 through Saturday, Nov. 19 and again Monday, Nov. 21 in the auditorium, 11055 South Hawk Highway. Tickets are $8.25 in advance at the school’s main office or $9 at the door.

The 45-member cast of “Once Upon a Mattress,” which has been in rehearsal since Sept. 6, is under the direction of teacher Suzie DuVal and senior Lauren Bell. 

DuVal said the choir teacher suggested the musical this year.

“We have both strong lead males and females so we knew our talented students would make it a great show,” she said. “It’s also a larger musical so we could involve more students.”

The cast is led by senior Jack Gardner, who plays Prince Dauntless, and junior McKenna Rogers, who is Princess Winnifred. Junior Mira Kocherhans is the jester and Lady Larken is played by sophomore Sofia Somsen.

“It will be a great family show with really great dancing and the medieval-looking costumes are fantastic,” DuVal said.

Costumes are designed by Mary Ellen Smith and the music choreographer is Lara Stone.

Alta’s “Music Man,” under the direction of teacher Emily Barker and assistant director senior Connor O’Hagan, has a cast of 70 students — which includes elementary and middle school students and dance company and orchestra members — in addition to a 15-member tech crew.

“This show is always a fun one to do, but it’s great with high school students because it has a strong chorus and we can involve as many students as possible,” Barker said. “We have a lot of talent to showcase this year.”

The role of Harold Hill is played by senior Sam Martinez and Marian the librarian is performed by junior Heather Bondine. Winthrop is played by seventh-grader Daniel Mickelsen. Junior Chandler Beers plays Mayor Shinn and senior Cassie White is the mayor’s wife, Mrs. Shenn.

Music is under the direction of April Iund, with choreography by Lauralyn Koffard. Theater teacher Linze Struiksma is the creative consultant.

Alta announced its show in May so students had the summer to prepare their roles for auditions in early September.

“The kids are really working hard. We put them into families so on stage, we hope the audience will feel the relationships and part of the community. Meredith Wilson wrote it as a love story to that time period and people, so we’re performing it as a peek into what life was in River City, Iowa at the time. It’s a fun set and will be a show with lot of great dancing and singing and high energy,” Barker said.

Both schools recently participated alongside more than 3,000 others from across the state and region at the annual Utah Shakespeare High School Competition in Cedar City.

Jordan students performed an ensemble piece from “Richard III,” under the direction of DuVal and student Mira Kocherhans.

“We looked for a really good ensemble scene and realized that much of the politics of that day are still reflected into those of today,” DuVal said. 

The school also took students performing scenes and monologues, the improvisation team and the dance company, who performed “A Storm Approaches,” choreographed by Ismael Arrieta and based on “The Tempest.”

“We love to hear what the judges say as they give us immediate feedback,” Dance Company Director Adrienne Dunkley said 

DuVal said Shakespeare is important for students to study and learn.

“When they understand it, they get a sense of ownership and wear a badge of honor saying, ‘I get this,’ and feel accomplished. I like that it gives more opportunities for our students to learn and perform,” she said.

Alta’s 26-member Shakespeare team, which practiced for five weeks leading up to the competition, took third place overall in their division.

Their ensemble piece was based on “Merchant of Venice,” with a modern-day spin. Students also performed individual events, including scenes and monologues.

“I want them to walk away with a better understanding of Shakespeare,” said Struiksma, who directed the Shakespeare team with assistance from Barker. “The more they perform and read or are exposed to Shakespeare, the more natural it becomes. Then, they’ll appreciate it more.”

She said it also provides them the opportunity to see performances by the Utah Shakespeare Company as well as other schools participating in the festival.

“I like how the students make connections with other schools. There’s a lot of camaraderie among the students from the schools. They root for each other at the performances and set out to do things together,” Struiksma said.

Ahead for both schools are the region and state competitions in March and April as well as more school performances.

Jordan students will take the stage for “Emma,” based on the book by Jane Austen, at 7 p.m., March 2–4 and again March 6, 2017. Their one-act, student-directed plays will be at 7 p.m., May 18–20 and again May 22, 2017.

In February, Alta students will perform “The Crucible,” followed by their one-act, student-directed plays in May. 

Jordan High theater students also will have the chance to experience Broadway shows as they and the school choral students travel to New York City over Presidents Day weekend in February.

While the itinerary is yet to be completed, performances and workshops with theater professionals are being planned.