LHS Drama preps new musical while still accepting accolades from last year

LHS Drama preps new musical while still accepting accolades from last year
Posted on 11/17/2016
The ever growing ranks of the Lynden High School drama department has already started prepping its new musical, all while still pulling down accolades from what it accomplished last year.

The first two weekends of March 2017 will include the 38-member cast presenting the musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, an effort that started in November. The show, though, is made possible by the continued expansion of the department.

“I do try to pick out large shows now because we have grown,” says director Tina Miller. “Seven years ago we had 25 kids, but we have grown over time.”

The Seven Brides for Seven Brothers show calls for only 20 people, but Miller didn’t want to cut anyone and with so many exceptional dancers, she added a dance number and expanded the townspeople so “everybody gets a shot at something and has a moment to shine on the stage.”

Even as Miller looks forward to the new show, she can’t help but be reminded about last year’s presentation of Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Normally Miller doesn’t submit to the Seattle-based 5th Avenue Awards, the top grades for high school drama in Washington, to keep drama from turning into a competition.

“We are teaching kids that we are a family and we encourage each other,” she says. “We go to Lynden Christian’s friends and family night and they come to ours. Blaine and Ferndale comes to ours. We are not a competition.”

But at the same time, someone called the award officials and encouraged them to call Miller because they believed the spring 2016 show should be recognized. With the awards letting LHS in after the deadline, Miller was pleased with the “notes” they received, including “a lot of nods on our actors and singers. It was really nice.”

Lynden also received honorable mentions for lighting and special effects and Alex Swanson, who played Sebastian the crab as a junior, was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

Swanson is back this year, along with an entire mix of students—38 in the cast, 10 in the crew, three for orchestra and at least four on the technical side—to pull off what is one of Miller’s favorite performances. “I had mentioned it to some kids and several of my juniors and seniors said they love the play,” she says. But Seven Brides for Seven Brothers requires a robust group of guys, so Miller told her students that if they could recruit more boys they’d move forward on the performance. They ended up with 14 boys, the highest amount ever for LHS drama. “It was a goal we worked with as a group to make happen,” Miller said.

And coming off the heels of last year’s performance, Miller likes the idea of mixing up the genres, having done kids, classics and 1950s recently. “You do have to look at who you have coming back and I knew I had a lot of strong boys this year,” Miller says. As an added bonus, Miller tried to tie into Lynden’s recent 125th anniversary celebration with a play that takes place in a similar time period. “Although it is in Oregon, it could have been the pioneer days here and we are hoping to possibly tie that in with some community involvement.”

In November and December the cast will continue to memorize the music and has already started working through choreography. “The heart of the musical is the music,” she says, “it is about getting the harmonies.”

At least once a week through the calendar year the group will have an all-cast rehearsal and will also do loose walk through practices. Over the Christmas break the team starts building the set and following Christmas, when all cast members need to be “off book” (lines memorized), they will start building the musical in blocks, adding in props and choreography.

“It does progress and we have more and more rehearsals,” Miller says. “In February we have rehearsals six days a week.”

It all culminates with a magnificent March.