As the winter season starts to transition into the spring season, that means the premiere of The Music Man at Hollis-Brookline High School is right around the corner. This year, the musical follows Josh Ide ‘20, playing the role of Harold Hill who is a fast-talking traveling salesman, as he tries to carry out his plan to con the citizens of River City, Iowa with his promise for a town band. Despite Hill lacking any musical knowledge, he manages to instill hope in the people of the town and brings them together. Then he meets Marian Paroo, the school librarian, who is being played by actor Sam Price ‘20, and she and the townspeople show him a life of honesty. Will Hill still get away from the townspeople with the wad of cash that he wanted, or will he find something else in the town? To find out if he can sneak out of the town with the cash, come see the premiere of HB’s take on The Music Man.
This year in the musical, “We have 27 high school students, three middle school students, and three students from various elementary schools as a part of the cast. Additionally, we have four stage managers, a construction/design crew, a backstage crew, and a tech crew,” said Social Studies teacher, Matthew Portu, a co-director of The Music Man along with Visual and Performing Arts teacher, Matthew Barbosa.
After graduating from Providence College, Portu began teaching in 2015 and by the end of last year, students asked him to advise the International Thespian Society, a society that honors theater students in middle schools and high schools. Flash forward to this year, Portu was asked by both Barbosa and English teacher, Claire Pare, if he would step up to co-director of the school’s musical. This opportunity presented to Portu gave him the chance to continue his passion for directing musicals from college where he directed You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and The Wizard of Oz.
“Our directors Mr. Barbosa and Mr. Portu have worked incredibly hard over the past three months on the set, acting, and music for the show. Unfortunately, we’ve lost a lot of time due to snow days and other factors beyond our control. Barbosa and Portu have done a great job staying positive and keeping us on track with our work,” said Ide, on behalf of the entire musical cast and crew.
Every day of the school week, except Wednesday, the Musical Cast and Crew are hard at work preparing for the fast-approaching performances. On Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday right after school, everyone rehearses until 4:30pm but each of these days focuses on something a little different. Mondays are when the cast works with the stage managers and Portu on blocking, which is character placement in each scene. Tuesdays are mainly run by Barbosa and the cast works on vocals while the set design crew works diligently to set up the scenes on the Auditorium stage. Thursdays are spent with the dance captains dedicating their time to teach the cast each dance. Then on Fridays, the pit band rehearses the music to go along with the acting and singing in the musical. During the week leading up to the performances, the cast, crew, directors, stage managers, pit band, designers, and play technicians practice each day to work out any minor tweaks. This week before the premiere is called Tech Week because everything comes together in one cohesive, elaborate, and amazing show but can be very hectic leading up to it.
“This show is for everyone to enjoy; it is humorous and witty yet charming and heartfelt all at once. Everybody should come and support the show, for so much work has been dedicated to this production, and finally, after months and months of preparation, the community’s endless support has, and always will, make it all worthwhile,” said Hu.
All of the actors and cast members poured their hard-work and lots of effort into making the school musical possible. In particular, Ide was extremely excited for the premiere and said, “This is going to be an amazing show, so if you’ve already got plans, get rid of them, because this is something you don’t want to miss.”
However, on March 13, all schools in SAU41 received an email from Superintendent, Andrew Corey, regarding the district’s decision to move all schooling to Remote Learning at home. The decision was made to go remote and online to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the community of Hollis and Brookline. With this decision, all school activities were put on hold for the safety and health of the people.
As for the status of The Music Man, all of rehearsal and show days were completely canceled. Students and staff alike are disappointed to miss out on the opportunity to show off their talents and hard work with the premiere of The Music Man, but kindly respect the district’s decision to go to Remote Learning.