EHS Musical Nov. 15-18

Ellison HS drama presents musical Emma
By: Todd Martin
If literary great Jane Austen lived in current times and penned a Disney musical set in an American high school, it just might resemble Ellison High School’s current production.
A large cast of Ellison theater and choir students are staging the musical Emma Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Ellison High School auditorium. Tickets at the door are $8 for adults and $5 for students.
The pop musical based on the Jane Austen novel will have audiences smiling and laughing at the comedy and swaying to the rhythm of familiar songs from multiple time frames ranging from The Supremes to Whitney Houston to Katy Perry.
From start to finish, the musical is big fun, with real students playing out an over-the-top version of high school drama centered on the matchmaking efforts of a busybody senior, Emma Woodhouse, played by freshman Janelle Cantrell.
“It’s really fun,” said Cantrell of her first high school theater experience and the show itself. “You can expect a lot of humor. When a young child dreams about high school, this may be what they think about.”
The character, Emma, spends her time trying to match up her classmates and even believes she manages to get a pair of teachers together. “She thinks she knows best,” Cantrell said, though she rarely does.
Theater directors Hayley Dugger and Michelle Clark said the musical is meant to be fun and to showcase a wide range of talent. Auditions attracted a large number of students new to theater and that was by design.
“We wanted a fun show that is relatable,” said Dugger. “We’re so excited that so many students not in theater came out. The theater program is growing.”
The musical showcases Ellison choir students’ vocal talents, along with longtime theater students’ acting skills. Cast members also worked on technical aspects of the production and elaborate set designs.
The show is a fun start to the Thanksgiving holiday, with silly high school students’ plans that inevitably go awry. “All of it backfires,” Dugger said. “I also like that there is no villain and there are so many relatable moments.”
Ellison junior Teandra Jackson, one of several choir students in her first theater production said she has enjoyed seeing the large cast come together and said audiences would enjoy several elements.
“My favorite part is the school dance,” said Jackson, who plays the role of Ashley. “There is a little Spanish in it and there are cannons involved that shoot confetti.”
Ellison sophomore Austin Kraft, a theater student who plays the role of Philip Elton, praised the work of the two theater directors for improving the skills of so many different talented students.
“There are a lot of really talented people who sing, dance and act,” he said. “Most of us have to learn from the others and Ms Clark and Ms Dugger are great to help.”
“The audience will enjoy the happy moments,” said Ellison senior William Wilson, a veteran of many productions who plays the part of Frankie Churchill. “There are a lot of cheesy jokes and throwback music.”
“It’s fun. It’s like High School Musical,” said freshman Analisse Nicholson, who plays the role of Jane Fairfax. “It’s different than a real high school. All they care about is who they will date next. I think the audience will like the comedy.”
Ellison freshman Natalia Velez plays the role of Harriet, one of Emma’s friends she tries to match up with a boyfriend. “She is bubbly and shy,” said Velez. “She’s so different from me, I have to get out of my comfort zone.” She said the audience would enjoy the big, singing numbers that keep the show fun and keep everyone singing along.