CHARLOTTE – Students Raymond Patrick and Alex Westover approached theater teacher Richard Turski in the fall about filling the orchestra conductor vacancy for Providence High School’s upcoming production of “Newsies.”
After plenty of convincing, Turski allowed the duo to take on the responsibility.
“I’m proud that we have a student who’s conducting the orchestra and that the orchestra body is all students,” Turski said. “You don’t find that in a high school.”
The musical, which highlights a newspaper strike, opens March 20 and continues through March 24.
Westover will conduct the orchestra, while Patrick will serve as musical director, helping with the pit from the outside.
“We walked in and thought it was going to be easy,” Patrick said. “We were naive. We realized quickly that it wouldn’t be. It took time. Once we adjusted, it worked out because everyone stepped up.”
Westover and Patrick worked together to get the music and after-school rehearsals together, while other students contributed with sound, lighting and the set.
“I have over 100 students in my tech classes that helped build that set,” Turski said. “I would give them the design and I helped plan it, but that was it. The rest was all them.”
Providence is the first high school in the surrounding area to present “Newsies,” according to Turski. Students have been excited about the production since it was revealed as the spring musical in May.
“I mislead a lot of the students that we were going to do a different show,” Turski said. “The place erupted. It was a beautiful moment.”
Auditions were competitive. Only 43 of the 120 students who auditioned for roles were selected, Turski said. The show had 20 crew members. Patrick said the orchestra eventually went from 37 members to roughly 20.
Will Taylor, who is playing Racetrack Higgins, said after the reveal that plenty of students took tumbling, tap and vocal classes – anything to get an edge over others auditioning.
Senior Kara Kucsma has been preparing for the role of Katherine by taking extra vocal lessons. Having been involved with school musicals for three years, the last few months have been quite emotional for her.
“This will be my last musical for this school, and I want to make sure I give my best performance,” Kucsma said. “Because of the time that we’ve spent together, we have grown as a family, and I’ll miss performing with everyone.”
With the amount of time and effort put into this production, audiences can expect to experience great music, plenty of dancing and enormous fun.
“Charlotte doesn’t know what’s coming,” Taylor said.
Want to go?
Providence High School presents “Newsies” at 7 p.m. March 20 to 23, as well as 3 p.m. March 24. Buy tickets at https://phs theaterarts.weebly.com/.