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Drama club prepares for In the Heights

JENNA RABAH, Staff Writer

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Photo by Edison Byrd
Chorus teacher and drama club vocal director Stephanie Zak leads the club in vocal warmups at a music rehearsal. The drama club plans to put on In the Heights, written and originally performed by Lin-Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame, on March 2, 3, and 4 in the auditorium.

The school musical is just around the corner and preparations are underway. In the Heights will open on the weekend of March 2. With under a month left to put the show together, the cast and directors are all under pressure to keep up with the musical’s demanding rehearsals and put in the effort to make the show run smoothly.
Rehearsals take place everyday from 2:00 to 5:30 and are run by chorus teacher Stephanie Zak, who teaches the vocal parts, English teacher Kendra Dickinson, who handles choreography, and English and acting teacher Christopher Briggs, who is the director of the show and in charge of the blocking of scenes and more detailed matters, including everything from the programs to the set design.
The cast is required to learn their lines, choreography, and music. By running through scenes, practicing their music, and reading their scripts, the cast is able to be successful in doing each of their parts.
Connecting with the character makes learning the part easier according to junior Elsa Torres, who is playing the role of Nina Rosario. She said, “I relate with Nina because she is just as family oriented as I am… She just wants to be successful and meet everyone’s standards since everyone looks up to her so much and… I relate to that in every way.” Jordan Perry, who plays the lead role of Usnavi, said, “I relate to Usnavi in the big brother role, because I’m always looking out for my friends.”
In the Heights not only connects to the cast on a personal level, but also to the school’s diversity. Dickinson compares the Dominican-American neighborhood of Washington Heights and the local Spanish speaking community, stating, “In the Heights really celebrates the diversity of our school… there is a lot of Spanish language and Spanish singing, which really compares to our school.” It is a unique show, full of rap, struggles, and community that seems especially hard hitting due to current events happening across the nation.
However, obtaining the playwright was not easy. Because In the Heights was a more contemporary work compared to shows done in previous years, and written by the same person who wrote Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, the playwright cost substantially more at around $4,000.
When the cast and directors were asked whether or not they were ready to perform in the show, most were apprehensive. Junior Kelsey Culup, playing the role of Vanessa, expresses, her preparedness for the show. She said, “I feel like I’m mentally ready because I have practiced a lot, but I definitely couldn’t go on stage right now and just do it.”
However, some cast members felt that they were ready to perform in the show. Logan Sorenson, who plays Benny, said “At this moment in time, I am ready for the show.”
When it comes to Briggs, he thinks pre-show stress is natural and inevitable. He said, “I think it is healthy that I’m concerned about where we are in the process because that makes me stay on top of the actors more, demand more and expect more of them…but in the back of my head I know that by the time the show rolls around, all the pieces will fall in place.”
Tickets will be sold at the door for $10 to students and $15 general admission. The cast would appreciate if everyone came out to support the drama club’s rendition of In the Heights.

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The student news site of Middletown High School
Drama club prepares for In the Heights