River Hill High students have a lavish musical on tap


March 07, 2002|By Lorraine Gingerich | Lorraine Gingerich,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

RIVER HILL High School's lavish production of the Broadway musical 42nd Street tonight promises to be a treat.

The play, which features a cast of 80 students and almost as many backstage workers, is about a young tap-dancer named Peggy Sawyer who arrives in New York City from Allentown, Pa. Peggy manages to join the chorus of a Broadway show, but events take an even more interesting turn when the leading lady, Dorothy Brock, breaks her ankle.

The curtains open on an impressive tap-dance number performed by more than 20 students and moves along nicely from one song-and-dance routine to another. There are 14 musical numbers, most accompanied by tap-dancing.

"This is the biggest show that has ever been put on at the high school," said Eric Cicora, who plays Julian Marsh, director of Pretty Lady, the musical's show-within-a-show. "It has the biggest cast, the biggest and most complex set, and it is also the most expensive show we have ever done."

Watching the many costume and scene changes, you will not believe this is a high school production. Sets include a roll-on room, a pyramid of steps and a train.

"Visually, it is stunning," Eric said.

The cast rehearsed four days a week for two months. The students rented costumes from Toby's Dinner Theatre in Columbia; some costumes were purchased from thrift stores.

Senior Ryan Krasney of Clarksville plays Dorothy Brock. "The character is definitely a piece of work," said Ryan, who has participated in shows since her freshman year and has experience in dinner theater. "Hopefully, I'll have a future in singing rather than acting," she added.

"She is an older diva trying to make a comeback in the show Pretty Lady," said junior Julie Towne of Ellicott City, Ryan's understudy. "This show's the turning point in her life because she was in between theater and love."

Julie admires Ryan's performance in the part. "I'll be there saying I knew Ryan as a shining high school star," she said.

Lauren Sambataro plays Peggy Sawyer, an inexperienced chorus girl who saves the show after Dorothy Brock breaks her leg.

"It's one of my favorite shows," said Lauren, who performed in 42nd Street at Toby's last summer. "I'm really glad I'm getting to do it again."

Most of the cast members have participated in several River Hill plays, and some of the young actors plan to pursue theater, dancing or singing after high school.

Eric, however, got involved in theater to improve his poise on stage to enhance his performances as a magician. Playing Julian Marsh, he said, provided the perfect opportunity.

"He is a force of nature, a presence on stage," Eric said.

Gavin Shown of Ellicott City plays Dorothy Brock's wealthy boyfriend.

"Abner Dillon is a rich Texan who is basically Dorothy Brock's sugar daddy," Gavin said. "But Dorothy is just using him so she can become the star of the play."

Sophomore Andy Dodson of Columbia plays Pat Denning, Dorothy's secret other boyfriend. "Her official boyfriend is very rich," said Andy, who gives the school's production of 42nd Street high marks.

"It's a good experience that everyone can be [involved] in. No matter what your [experience] level is, you can be in it," he said.

James "Jeeves" Murphy plays Billy Lawler, a juvenile Broadway star who falls for Peggy. Originally, Jeeves shared his role with Danny Ji, but Danny had to relinquish the role and Jeeves took over.

"We're really sorry that he had to drop out," Jeeves said. "It's really tough losing a really good singer and actor."

Junior Justin Martello is the understudy for the role of director Julian Marsh.

"My favorite part is when I sing out in front by myself. When you're up there, you just sing your heart out," he said.

"I like my part a lot," said Justin Fox, who plays Mac, the stage manager. "He's Julian Marsh's `yes' man. He tries to keep everything running smoothly."

"This is probably one of the best casts I've worked with," he said. "We're like family."

Drama teacher Pam Land directs the play. River Hill dance teacher Jill Blizzard choreographed the show, along with Land, student lead Lauren, alumna Danielle Knaack and parent Kathy Cardy.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. today, tomorrow and Saturday, and a 2:30 p.m. matinee is also scheduled Saturday. Admission is $8 in advance; $10 at the door.

Information: Pam Land, 410-313-7120.

Reflections winners

River Hill High School students Clare Herlihy and Alvin Yew were honored Jan. 30 in the school's cafeteria as 2002 Howard County Reflections winners.

Clare won first place in literature, and Alvin took third place in music.

First-place winners in the county contest will move to the state competition.

The Reflections Program, sponsored by the National PTA, offers youths in preschool through grade 12 an opportunity to submit works of art in a variety of categories for fun and recognition. The county competition is sponsored by the PTA Council of Howard County.

Septic care seminar

The Glenwood library will offer a seminar by Thomas Miller on how private wells and septic systems work. The session will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Participants will learn how to test the water and determine if a septic system needs to be pumped.

The library is at 2350 Route 97, Cooksville. Registration is required.

Information: 410-313-5577.

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