MHS’ bringing ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ musical to the stage

MHS’ Theater will perform “KISS ME, KATE” on March 1 through March 3 and March 9 and 10 in the high school auditorium.

From left to right: Elena Iliadis, Annie Comegno (center) and Jillian Carruthers rehearse the musical number “Too Darn Hot.”

Moorestown High School senior Mira Mookerjee said this year’s spring musical is one of the classics in the musical theater canon.

“It’s like the once-in-a-lifetime musical shows that you don’t get to do often, so it’s really, really cool to be able to do that,” Mookerjee said.

MHS’ Theater will perform “Kiss Me, Kate” on March 1 through March 3 and March 9 and 10 in the high school auditorium. Director and choreographer Erica Harr said with a wide array of ensemble numbers, this spring’s musical gives more students a chance to shine.

“Kiss Me, Kate” is a show within a show from Cole Porter’s canon of work. The irreverent musical combines comedic moments with a Shakespeare classic. The piece tells the story of Lilli Vanessi as she and ex-husband Fred Graham struggle to work together on a production of William Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew.”

Moorestown High School’s spring musical will be a production of Cole Porter’s “Kiss Me, Kate.” The musical will run from March 1 through March 10.

Harr said they try to think of the theater program as being broader than just the year they’re in. She said they want students to leave the high school having had a broad experience and a wide array of knowledge of musical theater. Having done a more contemporary show last year, they thought it would be a good choice to do a classic show this spring.

Auditions began in late November, and rehearsals started shortly thereafter. Harr said along the way, the students have done a great job of embracing the piece. She said the music director does a great job of challenging them vocally, and the dance is a different type than students have done before, with both with both jazz numbers and classic operatic numbers juxtaposed in the show.

“I’ve always found that if you challenge students to accomplish something or give them a task, they rise to the challenge,” Harr said. “They’ve done a great job of embracing different styles of music and dance and acting.”

With more than 40 cast members, the production is large in scale with more than 20 wigs, turntable sets and elaborate dance numbers. Mookerjee, who plays Vanessi and Katharine, said this year’s musical is an especially physical production.

Elena Iliadis snaps as she rehearses the musical number “Too Darn Hot.”

“It’s a really vocal-heavy show, so we started out with all the vocals and then got into the blocking and dance,” Mookerjee said. “It’s a really physical show, and there’s a lot of movement and fighting. It’s a lot of action and movement.”

Skylar Raye Noyes, who plays Lois Lane and Bianca in the production, said she’s loved the 1950s jazz elements of the show, and coming to rehearsals is always a pleasurable experience.

“Rehearsals are a lot of fun; it’s like a nice safe haven to come after school,” Noyes said. “After a stressful day, you dance and sing with your friends.”

Harr said this spring’s batch of students has been particularly supportive of each other throughout the rehearsal process. She said if a student receives positive feedback, everyone joins in and cheers.

“They’re competitive students, but they have a really supportive and caring energy about them,” Harr said. “They’re really rooting for each other to do well. This show is unique in that.”

Dean Blizzard, who stars as Bill Calhoun and Lucentio, said there’s a lot of strong talent in the room when the MHS theater group takes the stage.

“For us as performers being able to have fun on stage and have the audience join in that, it’s just a special moment for us to give the audience, and I would say come and experience that special moment.”

Skylar Raye Noyes (left in red) and Dean Blizzard (right in plaid) play a couple with a tumultuous relationship. The pair reach for a piece of paper during the number “Too Darn Hot.”

All performances are at 7:30 p.m., and all tickets are $15. There is a special matinee performance for senior citizens on Wednesday March 7 at noon.

For more information and updates, visit Moorestown High School Theater at https://moorestownhstheater.weebly.com/. Anyone with questions can call MHS at (856) 778–6610 ext. 22368 or e-mail moorestownhstheater@gmail.com.