page design and phots by: nikki carlson
story by: krista corner
Marking the end of its first year in existence, North Star High School is pulling out all the stops.
Almost one-third of the study body is involved in the school's production of the musical “Anything Goes,” a classic romantic comedy about the passengers of the S.S. American, a luxury cruise liner on a week-long voyage from New York to London.
During a rehearsal Tuesday night, director Mandy Nitz said the students have all put a lot of effort into the production.
“The last month is always crazy, but this time everything is in fast-forward. These kids have had to sacrifice a lot. Most of them have homework tonight, but they're here,” Nitz said.
Nitz, an English teacher at North Star, hopes the production goes over well in the community. The students take the stage at 7 p.m. March 30 and 31. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for students. Senior citizens and preschool students get in free. Tickets are available at the door.
Nitz said this year's spring production is a little earlier than usual. Residents and parents are often busier in April and May, and Nitz hopes that the earlier start date will mean bigger crowds. The shortened rehearsal schedule has made the production a little more hectic for the kids though, she said.
Musicals are not only bigger, but more expensive than plays because both scripts and the rights to the music must be purchased, Nitz said. She said it would not have been possible for either Blue Sky or KG to put together a musical. The two schools consolidated this year, and 24 of the 80 enrolled students are a part of “Anything Goes.”
“It's hard to find practice time because everyone is involved with everything,” Nitz said. “It's always crunch time at the end. You never feel ready enough, but that's what makes it fun.”
Nitz said the cost of a musical is “probably about double” what a play costs. The money from the musical will go back into the budget so the school can produce plays in the future. Nitz directs “Anything Goes” and helped choreograph dance routines, build sets and design costumes.
Nitz has been involved in five productions while teaching on the Hi-Line. Three of those productions were at KG High School. In the fall, she produced “Money to Burn” at North Star.
She's being helped by Lisa Springer, a paraprofessional, who designed the costumes. Art teacher Linda Lett painted the set and helps wherever she can. Student teacher Leah Dahlin also helps out.
The young actors said the production has been a lot of work, coupled with a lot of fun.
Reno Sweeny, a nightclub singer, is played by junior Tia Pester. She has been involved with Missoula Children's Theatre for “as long as I can remember.” This is her first high school play.
Senior Shane Rice has been in five productions altogether. This is his first musical. He plays Billy Crocker, the hero of the show.
“I just goof around,” Rice said of his time on stage.
“He always makes it fun,” Pester said about working with Rice.
Reno has four angels that appear at various times during the play. Senior Britta Umbach plays an angel named Virtue.
“It's been a lot of work, but it's going to be funny,” Umbach said.
Purity, another of Reno's angels, is played by Tara Donoven, a junior. This is Donoven's second high school production.
“In the last one I played a major dork,” Donoven said. “It's fun especially with the people we have,” she said about the show.
Junior Tiarelle Warren, like Pester, has been involved with MCT. This is her second school play. She's also involved in basketball, volleyball and several other activities. She plays Hope Harcourt, who is engaged to Sir Evelyn Oakleigh, an English gentleman. Sir Oakleigh is played by Marty Pederson, a freshman. This is his first play.
Ashley Ackley, a junior, also takes the stage for the first time. She plays Ling, a Chinese convert who wins $300 gambling. She said that she has only about seven lines, but she's on stage a lot, and gambling almost every time.
Chas Horinek said he chose to do the muscial because “It's something to do, and if I don't have anything to do, I'll probably do it again. Horineck plays the steward aboard the S.S. American. This is his first production.
Bishop Henry T. Dobson is played by senior Kellin Jund. This is his first production, and he said that he's “always wanted to be in a play.” He also has several other singing and dancing parts throughout the musical.
Another senior, Lincoln Holt, plays Moonface Martin, Public Enemy No. 13. He plans on participating in drama when he goes to college at Unity College in Maine, though he won't be studying it. He'll be majoring in adventure education leadership.
“I have a lot of fun doing it,” he said about acting.
Nitz's husband, Jeremiah, is the athletic director for North Star Middle School. He also has numerous commitments, so their 4-year-old son spends a few nights at school with his dad.
Jeramiah Nitz also helped design the set. Mandy Nitz said the stage in the Gildford school is fairly small, especially for the size of the cast. Her husband is the one who figured out how to make the set work with the sizes of the stage and cast, she said.
As far as producing another musical at North Star, Nitz said, “We'll wait and see how this one goes.”