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Student Blog: Ranking Theatre Productions I Did in High School by How Much I Enjoyed the Experience

We all have to start somewhere.

Student Blog: Ranking Theatre Productions I Did in High School by How Much I Enjoyed the Experience I've been part of a lot of theatre productions in my life. I first got involved with theatre over a decade ago. Now I have a long list of shows on my resume and an AFA in theatre. Most of the best productions I've done have been my college shows, but that doesn't mean I didn't have fun with the ones I did in high school. Compared to the shows I've done in college, however, the ones I did in high school were... not great.

The high school I went to is very small; it's literally located in the middle of a field beside a highway in Missouri. A small high school meant a small student body, and because there was a small student body, there wasn't a huge interest in the arts. Football and girls' basketball were always the school's pride and joy, so a lot of funding went to sports teams. This meant our budget for the performing arts department was virtually nonexistent.

Before I started high school, the Drama Department did a lot of well-known shows, like Grease, Into the Woods and Little Shop of Horrors; I was even lucky enough to be cast as Winthrop in The Music Man when I was in middle school. But by the time I started my freshman year, the number of people interested in the Drama Department had dropped big time, which meant we couldn't do shows that required large casts. We also had to keep everything G-rated (maybe a soft PG here and there), so while bigger schools were doing shows like Shrek the Musical and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, I was acting in plays that no one has heard of that were definitely written specifically to be performed by middle schoolers.

These plays weren't great, but considering I was just excited to act, I didn't mind. Some of them were actually really fun to work on, so I figured I would look back at the eight shows I did from freshman to senior year and rank them based on how much I enjoyed the experience.

8. A Night in Three Acts

By the time my senior year rolled around, our numbers were incredibly low. We had also lost a lot of really talented upperclassmen. Instead of doing a spring musical like normal, we opted to just do a night of one-act plays to close out the school year. We chose three plays to perform. The first was Boxes, which is a coming-of-age story about a teenager who receives an empty box when he reaches a certain age that gets filled with "expectations" the people in his life have for him. The second was I Am Angel, which touches on the choices teens make due to peer pressure. The last one was Left & Right, which is a one-act play that I wrote.

To quote Gil Faizon from Oh, Hello on Broadway, my play was "inspired by... and directly stolen from" comedian Bo Burnham's infamous "Left Brain/Right Brain" bit. It centers around a teenager as he navigates high school and makes choices with the help of his left brain and his right brain, who are not only personified but are shown interacting with the main character and each other. It was poorly-written, and I honestly regret writing it, but for some reason everyone responded well to it.

The reason I rank this "production" last is because it was sort of thrown together as a last resort and wasn't as enjoyable as it could have been, especially since it was the last show I would ever do in high school. Still, I can say that some fun was had.

7. Do You Wanna Dance?

Student Blog: Ranking Theatre Productions I Did in High School by How Much I Enjoyed the Experience

Do you like jukebox musicals? Do you like Footloose? How would you like to see a jukebox musical that rips off the plot of Footloose? Well, look no further, because I've got just the musical for you!

In this musical set in the 1990s that features hits such as Marvin Gaye's "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)" and "Dancing in the Street", Earth, Wind & Fire's "Boogie Wonderland" and Young MC's "Bust a Move", the citizens of SnapHappy, Ohio are shocked when they learn that the mayor's new wife wants to impose a tax on dancing. As the parents in the town learn to accept the tax, the mayor's son and his friends are prepared to take a stand.

While I was very proud of this show, the rehearsal process was one of the most stressful of all the shows I've done. We were working right up until opening night, with some of us not learning some of our choreography until the very last minute. It was really unorganized and really crazy, but looking back that just makes me even prouder of the end result.

6. Murder with Tomato Sauce

The first show of my high school theatre career was a fun whodunit full of hilarious twists and turns. Here's a little synopsis: When the crazed Detective Rathbone invites the world's greatest detectives to a fancy dinner at an Italian restaurant, he challenges them to solve a murder. However, the night takes an even more unexpected turn when the detectives start mysteriously dying, one by one.

I had a lot of fun doing this show, especially since it was my first high school production. I don't really have any memories of it that are very significant other than that fact, so I've gone ahead and placed it here on the list.

5. Crumpled Classics

Student Blog: Ranking Theatre Productions I Did in High School by How Much I Enjoyed the Experience

Ah, this was a good one. Crumpled Classics is a play about a group of students who act out classic pieces of literature, putting their own modern spins on them. Despite it being one of those plays that you would most often see performed as the closer at a camp talent show or something, it was one of the funniest plays we did. I actually enjoyed the writing and the humor, and I got to play a supporting character who was dumb and funny, so it was a win-win. I still wouldn't put it on a resume, but I had so much fun doing it, and I look back fondly on it.

4. Oliver Twist

Student Blog: Ranking Theatre Productions I Did in High School by How Much I Enjoyed the Experience

No, I don't mean Oliver!, like the musical. I mean Oliver Twist, as in a random adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel. I say that like it's a bad thing, but it really isn't. It was incredibly well-written and actually brought out some incredible performances from everyone in the cast. It was definitely a major departure from all the other shows we had done, and we crushed it.

3. Death by Chocolate

The first show of my senior year marked the first time I had ever played the lead in a show. Another whodunit, Death by Chocolate follows Nick Noir, private eye, as he questions the owners and customers at a small coffee shop, where a man died suddenly after drinking the "Death by Chocolate", their signature drink. This play is full of hilarious dialogue, wacky characters, fourth wall breaks, and gunplay. The rehearsal process was a little shaky since we had some flaky cast members, but when everyone was there and doing their part, it was a fun experience.

I still have the "Oscar" my director gave me for my performance. What a fun little memento!

2. The Nifty Fifties

Student Blog: Ranking Theatre Productions I Did in High School by How Much I Enjoyed the Experience

You know when you tell your mom "I want Grease" and she tells you "We have Grease at home"? Well. Here you go.

Of course I'm exaggerating a lot. This musical actually has an original story, but you can tell it wants to be Grease really bad. It's just fun homage to the 50s full of songs inspired by the music of the era. It's got your Wally Cleavers, your Eddie Haskells, and it's got leather jacket-wearing bikers and beatniks. What more could you want out of a story set in the 50s? I didn't care much for the story, but I actually enjoyed the music and our set was pretty cool. It wasn't a fantastic production, but considering it was only the second show I did in high school, I had a lot of fun with it.

1. The Happy Elf

Student Blog: Ranking Theatre Productions I Did in High School by How Much I Enjoyed the Experience

Most of the other people involved would disagree with me, but I think that Harry Connick, Jr.'s The Happy Elf was the best show we ever did. A full-length musical based on NBC's animated holiday special, The Happy Elf tells the story of Eubie, an elf who finds himself in a race against time when, just hours before Christmas, he discovers that all the children in the town of Bluesville are on the naughty list. With the help of his friends, Eubie travels to Bluesville to spread Christmas cheer.

I personally enjoyed this show. The music, written by Grammy-winner Harry Connick, Jr., was actually really good, especially when you compare it to the other musicals we did. The story was funny and endearing and the characters were lovable. Of all the shows I did in high school, it's the one that I wouldn't mind doing again at some point.

Oh yeah, and Harry Connick, Jr. (or someone associated with him) sent us a basket of baked goods as a thank you for choosing to do the show. That was cool.

Those are all the productions I was part of in high school. Never heard of any of them? I don't blame you; a lot of them are pretty random. That being said, I don't look back on them as the best shows I've ever done and never will, but, as is with every show I do, I will always have memories from them, whether they're good or bad.

Thank you for reading! Want to read more from me? Click here to check out my other posts!

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From This Author Student Blogger: Holden Childress