Hillcrest High thespians excited to perform Utah premieres, big celebratory shows in new auditoriumOct 04, 2021 01:19PM ● By Julie Slama
Hillcrest High’s new trophy case displays drama awards that the Huskies have acquired through the years. (Photo courtesy of Hillcrest High School)
By Julie Slama | [email protected]
Hillcrest High junior Lily Greenwood loves to dance and perform on stage, but admits an audition with a Broadway song, even for 30 seconds, isn’t her cup of tea.
“It’s out of my comfort zone, but being part of Hillcrest’s musicals are so much fun,” she said. “I’m happy with dancing.”
As part of the school’s dance company, she was required to audition for the upcoming musical, “Holiday Inn,” which is slated to be performed on the school’s new stage, if completed at its scheduled late October date.
Greenwood will dance in the ensemble, much as she did when she performed two years ago in “42nd Street.”
Rehearsals are already underway for the fall musical, scattered in the atrium, dance room, theatre room and “wherever we can find space” for the 175 students who are part of the show, said Josh Long, Hillcrest theatre teacher.
Hillcrest High opened the doors to its new school this fall, but portions of the new building including the stage and auditorium, are still under construction as of press deadline.
However, Long is going forward with his season schedule.
“We wanted a gigantic joyous community celebration as our show in the new auditorium and the new school, and this musical is that huge joyous celebration that we want to do with our community,” he said. “It’s a show that goes through different holidays and there’s big numbers for all of them and that’s what holidays are, big gatherings and celebrations like this.”
The musical is about a man who leaves show business to settle down on his farmhouse, but realizes he misses the stage of song and dance. He meets a schoolteacher who also is talented and together they create an inn with performances for each holiday until the man’s best friend tries to lure away his love.
The show will run at 7 p.m., Nov. 18-20 and again on Nov. 22 at Hillcrest High, 7350 S. 900 East. Show tickets, as well as season tickets, will be available Nov. 1 at hillcresttheatre.com.
Before the show, Hillcrest will compete to repeat its Shakespeare sweepstakes title Sept. 30-Oct. 2 in Cedar City. Having won its division, the Oxford division, last year, the school won the ensemble scene; took first and third place in monologues and second place in duo/trio scenes. The tech team won the tech Olympics as well as took first in portfolios, lighting and sound.
This year, the 55-member ensemble will perform “Henry VIII” while the stage crew will once again compete in the tech Olympics. New this year was submitting monologues and scenes by Sept. 18, with the finalists to perform in-person.
On Oct. 4, the Shakespearean team is expected to perform their talents in the school’s black box theatre.
The students open up the 2022 year with “A Monster Calls” at 7 p.m., Jan. 20-22 and again on Jan. 24. There will be a 2 p.m. matinee on Jan. 22; the shows will be performed in the black box theatre.
“I’m so excited about this show,” Long said, who saw it in London a few summers ago. “It’s a brilliant production and a really cool adaption that I think it will become a big staple in high school and professional theatres in America. And in our black box theatre, it will open up cool creative options to tell the story in a more intimate way.”
Taken from the best-selling children’s book, the show is a powerful insight into love, life and healing, Long said.
“A few years back, I wasn’t familiar with it, but I kept hearing about it from multiple people in my life that were very emotionally moved by it,” he said about the show he later saw at the Old Vic in London. “So I went and thought it was a really creative telling of that tale and very impactful. I wanted to do it with us because it seems to be something that really is effective to audiences from all sorts of backgrounds and histories.”
The plot is about a 13-year-old boy, whose mother is sick and dying of cancer. As the boy struggles to fit in with his classmates and acknowledge the seriousness of his mother’s illness, his grandmother offers help, but he doesn’t want it. Then, one night, the boy is woken by his mother’s favorite tree which came to life and walked into his dreams. It, as a monster, tells the boy stories of truth, which prompts him to face reality.
The show was expected to be on tour, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, was delayed. Long contacted the theatre and talked to the British agent who gave rights for Hillcrest to perform it as the Utah premiere.
“Prince Caspian,” based upon the “The Chronicles of Narnia,” is another show that Long is excited about and the Huskies will premiere in the state, with the permission of the author’s stepson.
“I’m a huge C.S. Lewis fan and this is the going to be huge and epic and a big action-adventure piece,” he said.
Long and stage tech and technical theatre teacher Giselle Grimmert have worked on the design all summer as it is a more technically challenging show.
“It’s going to be an epic spectacle,” he said. “We’re really excited to use our new auditorium facility to the most of its potential with that show and create a whole lot of great visual elements for audiences. It’s going to be really magical, exciting and adventurous.”
The tale tells the story of the four children (who first discovered the land of Narnia after walking through their magical wardrobe) returning to the kingdom to help the rightful king and heir take the throne.
The show will run at 7 p.m., March 16-19, 2022.
At the same time, the Huskies will prepare and compete at region contest in March. State competition is held in April. Last year, the Huskies won the 5A state title.
The thespians return to their stage at 7 p.m., May 12-16, 2022, with “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” a 2014 Tony Award-winning musical comedy.
“It’s a British musical farce that has a lot of broad comedy humor and is a lot of fun,” Long said.
The show tells about how a distant relative and eighth in line as heir to the family fortune “speeds up” the line of succession, first by “accidently killing” a relative, then “intentionally, charmingly murdering those ahead of him to get to the fortune,” Long said.
A fun twist of the show comes from one actor portraying all the family members.
As the season unfolds, final touches to the theatre behind the scenes will help the new space become home to the Huskies, including the wall where actors add their handprints and autographs that was saved from the former school’s auditorium.
“We love theatre here and we’re excited to share our talents in the new performing arts center with our audiences,” Long said. “This year, we hope they come in and experience something new with us because we’ve got a whole lot of new experiences for people.”