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Midvale Journal

Hillcrest High theatre to pilot Disney’s Marvel as one of three fall shows

Sep 30, 2019 02:22PM ● By Julie Slama

In mid-September, Hillcrest High students rehearse for the upcoming high school Shakespearean competition. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

The Walt Disney Company called Hillcrest High theatre director Josh Long last spring, asking for the school to pilot two of their new Marvel one-act plays.

“When Disney calls, you don’t say no,” he said, about scheduling the show before Nov. 1, in amongst students rehearsing for the annual high school Shakespearean competition and their fall musical, “42nd Street.” “This is a great opportunity.”

Disney’s two one-acts will be performed at 7 p.m., Oct. 24-26 in the school’s auditorium, 7350 S. 900 East. Tickets are $8 and along with season tickets, will go on sale Tuesday, Oct. 1. 

Long will direct “Peter Parker & the Boy Who Flew” while guest director Julie Ahlander, who assisted with last season’s production of “Copperfield,” will direct “Mirror of Most Value.”

“We applied to Disney to be a pilot school three or four years ago,” he said. “The Marvel plays we’re doing are cool. There are multiple one-acts addressing modern issues for teenagers using Marvel characters. The ones we are performing are Spiderman, who addresses teen suicide, and Miss Marvel, who talks about how ordinary kids are superheroes, but sometimes, don’t see it in themselves because they aren’t funky, crazy people with radioactive material.”

Long said he has talked to the school’s Hope Squad about holding a post-production discussion about the warning signs of teen depression, anxiety and suicide. The school’s Hope Squad are students who identify peers needing assistance and encourage them to seek help from adults.

After the production, Long and the cast, which are 34 members in the productions company as well as the stage crew, will give Disney feedback about their one-acts.

To make the extra performance work, the cast of “42nd Street” will rehearse for two weeks in the gym while sets are being prepared on stage and final dress rehearsals will take place before the Marvel performances.

He said that is when the team of directors will be beneficial. Long is directing “42nd Street,” but Chelsea Lujan will choreograph dance, RaNae Dalgleish will be the vocal director and Austin Hilla will direct the orchestra. In addition, Giselle Gremmert directs stage crew and Michelle Abbott is the costumer.

“42nd Street” will be performed at 7 p.m., Nov. 21-23, and again Nov. 25. Tickets range from $8-10.

“We want to have a celebration of performing art and the joy it brings to lives, that’s why we picked ‘42nd Street,’” Long said. “It’s going to be big, flashy and fun.’

He said there are 225 students involved — 180 performers, 25 stage crew members and 20 playing in the pit. 

While auditions were held in late August, many students dedicated their summer to taking tap dance lessons to prepare, he said.

This month, Hillcrest students hope to defend their first-place ensemble and Tech Olympic titles with a repeat sweepstakes title at the annual high school Shakespeare competition. It will be Oct. 3-5 in Cedar City. 

“Our ensemble piece will be about sexual assault,” he said about the piece he wrote, with students finishing it, using Shakespeare’s words from “Measure for Measure,” “Two Gentlemen from Verona,” and “The Rape of Lucrece.”

Long said he consulted administrators, teachers, counselors and survivors of sexual assault, before approaching the subject. A free performance of the Shakespeare team’s performances will be at 7 p.m., Oct. 7 in the school auditorium.

Hillcrest also will return to present in Spanish a scene from “Sir Thomas More” addressing immigration as well as others performing scenes, monologues and a dance duet.

Before school began, Long and about 45 students traveled to New York in a non-school trip where they took in eight Broadway shows and several workshops that helped students prepare for the season.

“It was so diverse, so great,” Long said. “The kids learned a ton and we had some great discussions.”

They also visited New York Public Library for the Performing Arts where they viewed the original 1975 production of “A Chorus Line,” which they plan to present along with “Merrily We Roll Along” and “Richard II” as their spring productions.