Parts to Perform, Hearts to Warm

The high school musical has been depicted in media time and time again with the same over arching theme: unity. This isn’t an accident. The appeal of being a part of the musical is, in fact, the unity. So many individual stories go into creating one big one. Even deeper, each performance acts as a chapter in the stories of our high school career. If you’ve ever read a book, you know the temptation of flipping through to the last chapter, because that one is usually the best. There are 10 seniors in the program, on their final chapter. Though I am one of them, the other characters in this chronicle prove to be much more interesting.

Ashley Russel is a current senior at Camden Catholic High School. To think of her is to think of an energizer battery. A determined honors student and skilled dancer, she just keeps going and going and going. Not only is she a total brainiac, but she has been dancing ever since she could toddle. Though she sometimes denies it, she has also been gifted with a very lovely voice. When I interviewed her for this, it was clear just how happy the shows made her. Being a part of the productions truly improved her high school experience.

I: How long have you been involved in the arts at CCHS?

A: I have been involved in the arts for two years now, this is my second year. That was kind of redundant (laughs).

I: What inspired you to be involved in the musicals?

A: My mom inspired me to do the musicals because she did them senior year, and wished she had done them earlier. So she really encouraged me to get involved before my last year.

I:What is your favorite element of production? (sound, set, dance, singing, etc.)

A: My favorite element of production is the combination of singing and dancing. I love dancing because I’ve been doing it since I was like three, and for some reason I have always loved being on stage — even when I was a little baby. It just gives me a thrill to show people what I can do.

I:What has been your favorite memory in the musicals so far?

A: My favorite memory was last year, during Le Mis when we were creating Master of the House. We all had to pretend like we were really drunk and me and Carmen had a bonding moment over pretending to be drunk and never having actually been drunk.

Another personality that plays an integral part in this story of a high school musical is Caitlin Kenney. A trained and amazing dancer, she has a flare for the comedic as well .She has been doing the musicals at CCHS for 7 years, as she found her passion in it back in middle school. She is also a part of the dance team and various academic programs at the school. She, as well as her cast mates, works tirelessly to put on a show that will dazzle.

Caitlin backstage on her freshman show, Once on This Island (with Jeff Nixon)

I: What has been the most important lesson you have learned from the shows?

C: The musicals have taught me to have self confidence, if I can get up on stage and dance in front of an audience I can pretty much do anything.

I: What has been your favorite show so far?

C: My favorite show that I’ve done here is definitely Beauty and the Beast. It was honestly just a really amazing show, really fun to be in, really upbeat and happy and it was also a Disney show and Disney is my favorite.

I: What does being a senior in the show mean to you?

C: This is my 7th and final show at Camden Catholic, and being a senior, you’re kind of like a role model for the younger people. So, its really important to me, it means a lot. Its basically our last hooray at Camden Catholic, its our last chance to put on a show we are really proud of.

Giavonna Polk is a newer addition to the musical story line, though she plays no smaller of a role. She got involved in the arts program her Junior year, and can attest to just how quickly it can affect you. Her first musical debut in Le Mis was enough to push her to join back again for Pippin.

I: What is the most important thing the musicals at CCHS have given you?

G: Well, I’m a naturally shy person and I have had a lot of anxiety throughout my life. So, being on stage with my friends has given me a lot of opportunities to come out of my shell. And, ironically, the place where you would be the most shy, most afraid, gives me so much energy.

I: What does being a senior in the show mean to you?

G: Being a senior and this being my last time being in the musical, its given me a lot of perspective on my life. Like, now, I’m gonna go into the big world and meet new people and everything. Its really just fun to be with my friends one last time as we all doing something that we love together.

Gia (far right) with some cast mates backstage on Le Mis

I: How has being involved with the arts shaped you as a student?

G: Being in the musical and being part of the arts department at CCHS has given me a lot of useful information on how to manage time because you’re doing your performances, your practices and everything and you also have to juggle school and sleep. Its difficult until you get it down and it has helped me a lot with handling time and priorities.

As I further discussed her experiences with Gia, she explained how she was truly excited to be able to reach out of her comfort zone having felt the support of her fellow cast mates.

Zach Guida is undoubtedly one of the most interesting characters in this story. He has weaved himself into virtually every element of producing the musicals, and has thrived in each one. I met him first as a sound and music guy, interesting in playing puppeteer to the sounds the audience hears in the show. He has since been oscillating between stage crew, stage management, and stage performance. Currently, he is working as one of our stage managers of Pippin.

Zach (right) backstage on Le Miserbales

I: What inspired you to get involved with the musicals?

Z: When I was a freshman, a senior named Jeff Nixon actually came up to me and asked me if I wanted to join stage crew. I decided to do it, and I have loved it ever since.

I: What area of production interests you the most?

Z:The area of production that has always interested me the most has been sound. I have always been a sound kid at heart — I love working with music and microphones and stuff. I just find it really interesting and its what I love doing.

I: What does being a senior stage managing the musical mean to you?

Z: As a senior, I have to say its really just a great time with family and friends. The nostalgia just adds to the fun and meaning of the program.

I: What is the most important thing the arts department at Camden Catholic has given you?

Z: Simply put — its given me a family.

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