Last Saturday, Tri-M musicians went to see the Broadway in Chicago performance of the musical Mean Girls Choir and band kids alike filled the red velvet seats of the James M. Nederlander Theatre. Many of the students had been looking forward to the event for quite some time. As the theater dimmed the lights, the chatter of the crowd went silent, waiting for the musical to begin.
A wide range of students, each with different knowledge about Mean Girls, attended the show. Prior to seeing the show, some of the Tri-M students had only seen the movie or had only heard the soundtrack to the musical, like junior band student, Coleman Counihan.
“I like how [the soundtrack] mixes both genres of classical music and pop music to create a coherent story. Each character has their own theme that plays and I think it’s really interesting to see the story through the music,” Counihan said.
He explained that, in musical theatre, typically every character, scene, and interaction is assigned a theme. It helps guide the audience along the story in a subtle way.
“I really liked how the music was orchestrated, as the different instruments dictated what the relationship of the character was to the main character and the theme of each character remained the same, no matter what the instrumentation or feel of the theme was,” Counihan said.
Other students who have seen both the movie and musical or neither all came to support the arts and experience a great professional performance.
Mean Girls is known for its comedic writing and songs. For the students that have heard the music, they will finally get to experience the full production of the show. Sophomore and choir student Joni Contawe said that she already loved the soundtrack and really wanted to see how the actors and sets will go together.
“I truly liked the musical. As the soundtrack really only told part of the story, I was happy to hear the dialogue that provided the rest of the exposition,” Contawe said.
The trip to see the musical was planned by the band and choir directors of East. In the past, the music department went to watch a performance of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra but band director Stevan Rexroat wanted to plan something for the choir students to be interested in.
“It’s always nice to hear and watch performers who are professionals in their craft. It’s a great reminder of what it means to be excellent and what the students at OEHS can strive to be,” Rexroat said.
Although the musical was made to make people laugh and dance to the upbeat and empowering music, it inspired students, like Counihan, in their music career. For him, a longtime dedicated percussionist, watching and seeing the commitment it took for the crew and cast was inspiring.
“Professional actors who play the same part over and over again really invest themselves into the character, and seeing how someone can repeat the same thing over and over again to make themselves better is really inspiring for a musician,” Counihan said.
Getting the chance to see a live show allows the students and the hundreds of other audience members see how much hard work and passion goes into the performances and background of the show. Senior Anthony Ippolito, one of the many theatergoers amongst the students, said that he was in awe of the amount of zeal that went into this musical.
“I have always enjoyed seeing musicals and … I would definitely see another one after this one. It was so amazing to see so many talented professionals in one room,” Ippolito added.
With this fun and entertaining experience, East’s talented students are encouraged to indulge more into the arts, and through Tri-M and the band and choir programs, many of the students will continue or become a patron of the arts.
“I definitely think I will try to see more musicals in the future. Viewing this musical made me appreciate things like costume changes and set changes more, which is something that I don’t appreciate often. I will try in the future to appreciate that more,” Contawe said.
Some Tri-M students are avid theatre lovers or band kids who have done pit orchestra. Whatever category they fall into, the musical provided many interesting aspects for each student. For sophomore Morgan Brown, who has seen nor heard anything about Mean Girls, is a lover of theatre. Brown accompanied the rest of Tri-M and other choir and band students to check out the sets and actors. She said she was looking forward to seeing how the actors pull off the high notes. Brown isn’t the only one on the lookout for the music production in the works.
One of the most important roles when putting on a musical is the orchestra. Senior Alexandra Walsh said she was hoping to hear the pit orchestra due to her being in band and pit orchestra.
“It gave me an opportunity to play more independently, which provided me with confidence in myself,” Walsh added.
The hard work of everyone involved in the production of the Mean Girls paid off. The Tri-M students raved about the musical, Ippolito said he was excited to see the differences that would be made to the musical based upon the movie. All he had to say were good things by the end of the show.
“It was so amazing to see so many talented professionals in one room,” Ippolito said.
Not only were the actors getting praised for their amazing vocals, comedic timing and stage presence, but the sets as well. Like many other students, Walsh was said she was very impressed by the set design. She stated that the set was great because it was interactive. She was excited to see how the sets compare in Dear Evan Hansen due to its similarity with its digital interaction with the cast. And amongst the sea of students that watched and laughed together was Brown, taking it all in and enjoying the musical herself.
“Seeing professional actors is always a treat, as being an actress myself, I know how many hoops they have to jump through just to make it on stage,” Brown stated. “I’m glad to see that their hard work has paid off through such an awesome production.”
Reann Salazar is a staff writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl