by Spencer Schultz, Rebecca Shen and Ally Street
Although the main roles of this year’s musical, “A Christmas Story,” were taken by freshman leads, many of Jamesville-DeWitt High School’s talented seniors still shine in supporting roles. The arrival of the seniors’ last musical has proved to be bittersweet, especially for those involved since their freshman year.
Seniors in this year’s musical are undertaking more responsibilities than in years past. Not only must seniors perform well in their roles onstage, but they must also serve as a role model for younger students as well. “Being a senior, my role is more significant because you have to look out for the underclassmen and make sure that they're all included,” says senior Chelsea Colton, the mother of Ralphie in the production.
Unlike previous musicals, this year, “A Christmas Story” won’t be premiering in February, but rather on Dec. 10, two months earlier. In addition to the earlier release, there will be four showings of the productions, rather than the usual three.
To prepare for the early premier, rehearsals were moved forward towards the beginning of the school year, during fall sports. “I was really busy for a while at the beginning of the season because I had cross country,” says senior Miles Chandler, a member of the pit. However, Chandler adds that the condensation of his sports and the musical into a short period will leave him with a “big block of free time.”
The December premier proved to be a trouble not only for athletes, but also for those applying to college during musical rehearsal. Senior Will Potter, a cast member playing the role of the radio producer, a townsman, and a male doctor, admits to feeling “a little bit of pressure” during the musical production because of the stress that comes with the college application process.
Senior Owen Volk, a cast member playing a father, an escaped prisoner, policeman, Higbee’s manager, and a townsman, feels differently. “The timing (of the musical) is also kind of nice so we don’t have to stress about the musical later when we have tests going on,” says Volk.
Though under more stress with the college applications, seniors did feel less pressure during the audition process. Seniors have a slight advantage in getting parts for the musical, making auditioning less intimidating, says Potter. “The experience does help and [the director] will always try to give roles to seniors,” says Potter.
Senior pit percussionist Jeff Lenish still feels a responsibility to perform well, but no more than years in the past. “For all the four years I’ve been in pit, I’ve always put pressure on myself to do well, so there’s no change,” says Lenish.
Seniors involved in the musical are left with a bittersweet feeling as they approach their last Jamesville-DeWitt musical. “When you’ve been a part of something so great for so long, it’s really sad knowing that it's our last year,” says Colton. Some seniors couldn’t hold back their emotions during their last rehearsal. “Many of us shed tears,” says Colton.
Colton says she will miss the J-D cast the most, as she moves on to college. “Every year we get really close and I have definitely made friends that I'll keep for a lifetime,” says Colton. Senior Simon Schmitt-Hall looks forward to carrying out the senior traditions of leaving wills to underclassmen.
Despite the sadness that comes with their last musical, many seniors look forward to seeing the outcome of “A Christmas Story.” “It’s hard to say what my favorite high school musical has been, because we haven’t performed ‘A Christmas Story’ yet. I’m excited to see how it turns out,” says Colton. “I always love seeing the progress the show makes from being not so good at the beginning to being great at the end,” says Lenish.