The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 14, 2008


Curtain closes for CCHS musical theatre seniors

Musical theater at the Concord-Carlisle High School has set a long-standing standard of excellence in school productions, and for many audience members heralds the arrival of spring. When Director/Producer George Kendall took over from departing Chuck Brown after

Ted Alexander (Photo by Nancy Roberts) Phil Dumka (Photo by Nancy Roberts)

the 2005 show, many theater participants and audience members wondered if the standard would fall. This year’s core of graduating seniors remained part of the program after the transition in leadership, and the sparkling Crazy for You Gershwin production that runs through this weekend at the high school demonstrates that Kendall continues to carry on that standard of excellence.

“Being in musicals is a great experience because you make a lot of really lasting friendships,” says Owen Callahan of Indian Hill. “It’s hugely stressful and very time-consuming and frustrating, but everyone knows it’s going to pay off.” The senior delivers a humorous portrayal of Bela Zangler, leader of a New York Follies group, in Crazy for You, played the lead role of Juan Peron in last year’s production of Evita, and participated in the pit orchestra of Barnum the previous year

“I was too scared to audition for that,” says Callahan of West Side Story, which ran his

Eric Johnson (Photo by Marjorie Johnson)

freshman year and was Brown’s last show. “One of my biggest regrets is not auditioning for that. Just seeing it made me feel really bad about not being a part of it.” Callahan plans to attend college, and while not intending to become a professional musician, he does want to pursue music seriously while at school. He currently plays in the CCHS Concert Band as well as in the Jazz Band.

Other graduating seniors from Carlisle who appear on stage include “New York dancers” Lizz Oberg and former resident Molly DeGuglielmo, Alec Hutson as “Moose” and Ted Alexander and Phil Dumka in the cowboy ensemble.

Jumping out of the pit

Bass player David Dawson, of Autumn Lane, makes a stage appearance by being called up from the pit orchestra by the actors to perform a solo. The “pit” began regular weekly

David Dawson (Photo by Nancy Roberts)

rehearsals on Thursday nights after the winter holidays, as well as joining the stage cast during the entire week of February vacation from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Dawson has participated in other musicals as a member of the pit in Evita, Barnum, as well as Animal Crackers, which is destined for the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, this August.

“It’s given me an outlet to play my bass,” says Dawson who also plays trumpet in the Concert Band and the Jazz Band. He enjoys too the friendships he’s formed in high school through the pit: “Just last night [Saturday], the entire pit went out and got a bunch of ice cream. It’s a fun way to do something special in high school. It’s also given me some structure and something to look forward to every year.”

Dawson will attend Brandeis next fall, and currently plans to study chemistry. Other graduating seniors from Carlisle, in the pit, include violinist Kasturi Puntambekar, trumpeter Jonathan deAlderete and clarinet player Eric Johnson, who served as set-build manager in the musical’s production crew for the second year running. Johnson, a resident of Ember Lane, has participated in the production of every spring musical since his freshman year. Currently the principal clarinetist in the CCHS Concert Band, Johnson has also played in the pit for West Side Story doing percussion as well as playing clarinet and soprano saxophone for Crazy for You.

“It’s really been the highlight all the year through,” says Johnson of his CCHS musical theater experience “and where I do my hardest work outside of my school work. They say school work comes first, but it’s really work on the musical and squeeze in as much homework as you can! I still manage to get it done, but not as complete or well done during the musical time.”

Although disasters are few on the set, Johnson recalls one incident during Barnum when a

Drew Lockwood (Photo by Marjorie Johnson)

canvas tower fell over when one of the wheels jammed. “It was a pretty quick fix because we had people right there,” he recalls, “but that was the scariest moment since it landed on a couple of dancers.” No one was hurt, fortunately, and the crew rechecked the wheels after the show to avoid a repeat performance. Johnson plans to attend a college where he can expand on his technical expertise and study engineering.

The set build for the current show began after Christmas vacation. The crew worked eight hours, every Saturday. Other key graduating members of the production crew from Carlisle include Student Director Carrie Abend and Lighting Designer Drew Lockwood.

Last chance to applaud

Crazy for You runs tonight and tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. in the CCHS auditorium. A matinee concludes the show on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. (Tickets at or at the door.)

After the show closes, graduating seniors will look ahead to their futures but they agree that musical theater will be a treasured memory of their high school experience. Their younger classmates will look forward to performing, playing in and producing next year’s spring musical. The rest of us anticipate yet another excellent production. We’ll order our tickets early to avoid sitting in the back row, the wings, or even getting left to stand by the flag pole if the show sells out on the last weekend.

The curtain may fall one last time for the graduating seniors, but like their peers before them, you’ll probably see them in the audience for the 2009 show. ∆

© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito