Conditions could definitely be worse. As I write, it’s 16 degrees and sunny outside, with a wind chill of only 4–nearly identical at the moment to what Paducah, Ky., happens to be experiencing. For us, this is practically spring break weather; for Kentuckians, it probably feels semi-apocalyptic.
Everything is relative–and yet, it’s still February, which means we Minnesotans are bound to be in the doldrums of winter for at least a few more weeks. Despite the fleeting charms of Valentine’s Day, February often feels like a month that must be endured before we can resolutely turn our heads in the direction of spring.
There are of course various ways to brighten these chilly days, and certainly the state tournament berths recently earned by the Worthington High School (WHS) gymnastics and wrestling teams are serving to perk up many people. (A hearty congratulations to these deserving teams on their successful seasons!)
For the past nine years, involvement with the WHS musical has preoccupied me for at least the early days of this short though underwhelming month. But due to a scheduling adjustment for 2015, I’ll keep cruising straight through February all the way to March 1 on the S.S. American with “Anything Goes!” as a rehearsal and “show band” accompanist.
This ship has sailed into Worthington before, most recently about 10 years ago, but an entirely new crew of students has been enthusiastically preparing during the past several weeks to present their own take on this mid-20th century farce, which bubbles over with the music of composer/lyricist Cole Porter, a master of the double entendre.
As an adult whose work doesn’t normally put me in everyday contact with large groups of high-spirited teenagers, I usually find the musical rehearsals quite entertaining. (Note to middle- and high school teachers: most of the rehearsals only last two to three hours, not a full day. You can’t be paid enough!)
Watching an active, dedicated collection of 14- to 18-year-olds master musical numbers, dance routines, dialogue exchanges and character personalities–especially of “types” they’ve fortunately never been, like gangsters and night club floozies–is gratifying, and a guaranteed way to take one’s mind off the snow and cold that patiently abide right outside the door in the parking lot.
It’s always amusing when the kids waiting their turn to take the stage begin chattering among themselves, forgetting the hushes dispensed by director Jon Loy until their volume tops that of those who are currently delivering lines or songs. So why should he need to bark, “Louder!” when they’re in the midst of a chorus number or finally have a chance to utter a few choice lines? It’s paradoxical; chalk it up to nerves and self-consciousness.
Last year’s “Wizard of Oz” incorporated more than a dozen Munchkins from Prairie Elementary school, but this year’s production is exclusively comprised of WHS ninth- through 12th graders. About 45 students will appear on stage, and roughly another 25 have been working behind the scenes on set, props or lighting. Still others are involved as instrumentalists in the show band.
They’d all appreciate your support of their January/February fine arts activity, which has no possibility of landing them at a state meet or netting them an All-Conference ranking–but it has kept them creatively engaged and taught them numerous lessons about perseverance, vocal projection, teamwork, personal responsibility and stage presence throughout the coldest days of another Minnesota winter.
And a night at the theater might make February end more pleasantly for you, too.
Advance purchase of tickets (all are reserved seats) for the WHS production of “Anything Goes!” is strongly encouraged. Contact Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center at 507-376-9101, or visit the box office from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 26, 27 and 28, and at 2:30 p.m. March 1. ISD 518 activity passes may be used for the March 1 show only, but tickets must still be reserved using the passes.