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The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

Pit Orchestra Members Upset with ‘Footloose’ as Spring Musical

Once S*T*A*G*E directors announced their choice of “Footloose” for the spring musical, many students began preparing for the mid-January auditions. Actors rented the 1984 film to watch and learn the characters, singers downloaded the sound track onto their iPods to start memorizing the songs, but pit orchestra students were not exactly practicing the sheet music to “Footloose.” Instead, they were circulating a petition for the musical to be changed and arguing with the spring musical directors and Principal Christopher Garran.

After months of deliberation, English teacher and theater director Colleen McAdory and her team of spring musical directors: musical director/chorus teacher Isabel Hernandez-Cata, producer/English teacher Jonathan Bos and technical director/media technician Ty Huber and technical director/Tech Ed teacher Kevin Daney, decided that “Footloose” was the best musical for WJ students to perform.

According to McAdory, the committee of directors goes through a long process every year in which they select the spring musical.

“I think what a lot of students don’t know is that there’s quite a bit that goes into the decision with these shows,” said McAdory. “We have to look at our total program, we have to look at students we know we have, how much we think the show will appeal to the school at large in terms of a lot of different students, we have to look at the vocals, we have to look at the dancing.”

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The show’s musical set-up is much different than most of S*T*A*G*E’s spring musicals in that it only has a small band rather than a full-pit orchestra.

“Among those of us who had done pit since freshman year, there was a definite sense of disappointment and sadness,” said trombone player senior Michael Hsu, who played in the pit orchestra of “West Side Story,” “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Beauty and the Beast.”

In attempt to change the spring musical to a show that included a larger orchestra, senior Sarah Mears, who had never played in the pit orchestra but planned to this year, created a petition.

“[The petition] said that we felt that it was unfair that a show was pitched without considering the pit which is about 30 people, and we felt that the show should be chosen to include the full talent of the school,” said Mears.

According to Mears, she was unable to follow through with the petition due to a lack of signatures. Students also attempted meeting with each committee member.

Senior Eric Chandler, who played trumpet in “West Side Story,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “It’s Hard to be a Jew” and “Fellowship,” met with McAdory, Hernandez-Cata and music department resource teacher Christopher Kosmaceski on multiple occasions. Kosmaceski declined to comment for this article.

“It was clear that our appeals were ineffectual and that no one was going to try to change the show,” said Chandler.

McAdory emphasized her empathy for the orchestra students, but explained that the directors were not open to changing the spring musical because they had already decided that “Footloose” was the right play based on what they had already reviewed during the decision process. She looks to include as many people as possible, and was not looking to exclude musicians in the choice of “Footloose.”

“I have no ill feelings against any of our musicians,” said McAdory. “It’s always a tough choice and somebody’s going to be unhappy. No matter what you do, somebody’s going to be unhappy about it.”

Although McAdory has personally been accused of cutting out the orchestra, her involvement in the selection of the musical proves otherwise.

“Some [directors] favored, for some reasons, one [show] over another, but we talked through each show that we were thinking about and at the end of the process, I took myself out of the vote because I said, ‘You know what, I’m happy with any of these shows,’” said McAdory. “There were about five of them we talked about and I said, ‘I could do any of these. I’m just going to let you guys talk about it and vote on it and then if I need to be the tie-breaker, I’ll be the tie-breaker.’”

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