Maternity Leave Means Spring Musical in the Fall

Foster Cowan, Editor

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Chamblee drama teacher Linda Lirette’s third trimester conflicts with DeKalb schools’ second semester, which means that for the first time in years, the school will be putting on a fall musical.

The five year musical theater director at Chamblee is having her second baby in February, interrupting the long time tradition of a spring musical. The announcement of her pregnancy made many students question their commitment to the musical, because first semester is typically a time for sports, band, cheerleading, and other various activities, but Lirette is determined to make it work.

“There is a little bit of concern that we will have smaller participation because of conflicts with marching band, and football, and cheerleading, it’s why we usually do a spring musical,” said Lirette, “but I think that people can make choices about their time management, and I’ve been collaborating with the sponsors of those other programs so that we can make it possible.”

Lirette believes that despite the surprising change, the musical will continue to thrive and be successful.

“I think it will be exciting to have our audiences come at a different time of year,” she said. “It’s motivated me to streamline and make a lot of my processes more efficient so that we can spend as much energy on the show as possible.”

The pit orchestra, the ensemble of musicians that provides the instrumentals of the play, is also getting ready to begin a new year. Conductors Shania Williams and Camille Becker are excited, but still in search of people to commit to the pit.

“I’m optimistic,” said Williams. “At this point we don’t have a totally clear idea of who all we have committed to pit orchestra, because [applications] are not due for another week, but I feel like there’s a strong chance it will go well, especially after the marching band season is over and we can get a lot more practices in.”

Marching band seems to be a major concern for the pit conductors, because its intense practice schedule interferes with the rehearsal plan of the orchestra.

“All we can say is, we’ll work it out, because the majority of the pit is in the marching band,” said Williams.

As for people hoping to join the musical for the first time this year, Lirette has attempted to make the application and rehearsal process as smooth as possible.

“I’ve listed, oh gosh, a page full of dates,” said Lirette. “I don’t intend for us to rehearse for all of those dates, but I wanted to list all of the dates I knew that I could physically be here, because [as] part of the application process, students list their conflicts, and that way when I see the conflicts, I can tailor the rehearsal schedule to minimize how many people will need to miss.”

The first auditions, which will be held on September 8, is for anyone hoping to be in the cast, even if one doesn’t wish to sing or dance.

“Everyone who wants to be part of the cast does need to sing for 45 seconds of their life, and needs to dance,” said Lirette. “They’re not going to be singing in front of 150 other people right away, I just need to hear what I am working with. There are a lot of parts in this musical that don’t require singing at all, so they should definitely come on out. I want to see their faces, see what they’ve got.”

 

The dance section of the audition can also be kept short and simple.

“[In] the dance audition there’s the part for the dancer-dancers, and then there’s the part where I need to just see if you can move,” said Lirette, “and that doesn’t have to be really fancy.”

The show this year, “Guys and Dolls,” seems to be pretty well known amongst students, particularly the songs. The pit orchestra directors in particular are very excited for what the show music has to offer.

“I like [the music of “Guys and Dolls”], actually,” said Becker. “I’m really excited; … provided that we have all the parts necessary, I think it’ll sound really good, and we’ll have a really good time.”

Williams shares similar opinions on this year’s soundtrack.

“It’s so fye [sic],” she said, “and some of the songs people already know, like a ‘Bushel and a Peck’, that was on a commercial a couple of ago. There’s some really cool saxophone parts [as well], so I’m really excited.”

Lirette thought that “Guys and Dolls” was not only a good, well-known name, but also an excellent pick for the returning actors of the cast.

“Honestly, I’ve gotten to this far in my life and I’ve never done it, and it’s such a musical theater classic, that I really wanted to,” she said, “I also felt that it’s a really good pick for the students that we have currently in the program, and a great way to motivate some other people, because people have heard about it.”

There is only excitement and optimism from all sides of the musical production this year, and the directorship has very high hopes in this show.

“I’m really excited. I really am,” said Lirette. “We’ve got so many great returning talented members, so many new people who are coming from everywhere, and I’m just thrilled to be putting on another show.”