Those “Summer Nights” are over, but KISD’s District Wide Musical is in high gear. For the first time in Keller ISD history, all four high schools are joining forces to put on a District Wide Musical and this year Grease is the word.
The news came as quite a shock for students when a YouTube video was tweeted by Blake Wilson, Timber Creek theatre teacher, on June 1.
When asked when the decision to do a District Wide Musical was made, Assistant Director and head theatre teacher at Timber Creek, Amanda Brundrett stated that, “DWM has been in talks for a couple years, and this seemed to be the best year to give it a shot. We wanted to give students the opportunity to be a part of a huge production by pulling together our talents and resources. We also wanted to grow the bond that all high schools have and allow students other than those who attend their high school, much like college or professional theatre.”
The confusion quickly turned to excitement and students began preparing over the summer. Each student did different things to make sure they would do their best at auditions and potentially get the roles they wanted.
Timber Creek senior, Caroline Norton, said she “worked with her voice coach on songs for the audition” and “had no problem listening to the Grease soundtrack to get ready.”
On July 16, the head theatre teacher of Keller High School and head director for the DWM, Melissa Freeman, launched a Team App and asked students to begin submitting headshots and bios. All of the application process was done through this app so all four school’s applicants could be informed and considered for this huge opportunity. Team App is a program you can access online and through the app to find out dates of auditions and rehearsals. Students could also submit questions through a chat with the directors, turn in applications and receive alerts for the callback and cast lists.
TCHS junior, Aaron Frye, said that he personally liked the digital applications and sign up and that it helped him “stay up to date and get instant alerts anytime information was needed.”
In order for everyone to be on the same page for auditions, the directorial and stage management staff held an Audition Workshop on Aug 24. The hopeful candidates learned a one-minute dance along with a thirty second cut of a song to audition with.
“The audition workshop was an absolute blast,” Norton said. “I loved getting to be in a room full of theatre kids who were passionate about this show and ready to get started. Learning the dance and the music cuts was very beneficial to the whole process and pumped me up for auditions.”
Auditions were the following day on Aug 25. Over 480 hopefuls were in attendance. Tensions were high as all four schools were competing for an iconic role as Danny Zuko or Sandy Dubrowski, the show’s main characters. The show will be double cast to allow for more performance and more participation from students across the district.
“During the audition process, I felt the need to scream, throw up and cry all at once,” Timber Creek senior, Caleb Shaw, said. “It was the most intense audition I’ve been through because everyone around me was so talented and I was intimidated.”
On Aug 26, a smaller group of students got the opportunity to participate in callbacks and fight for the roles they wanted. This time, they got to sing more character specific songs and do readings from the script.
Timber Creek senior, Gabi Galloway, said this process was “very focused due to the directors having to audition so many students.”
August 27 was the final dance callback for all the students who auditioned. It was the final chance for the kids to score a spot in this huge musical. The cast list was originally set to be released that night, but the notification came late at night that the students would have to wait until Sunday, Aug. 28 to find out their roles. The hashtag, #DistrictWideWaitForIt, became a trend among hopeful applicants as they waited for the list to come out. Finally on Aug 28, the cast and crew list was posted after many stressful days.
The students that were cast were in a variety of places when the cast and crew list was released.
“When I found out I got the role of Sandy, I was absolutely elated!” Norton said. “I was at work and I couldn’t really make a scene, but I wanted to jump for joy!”
“When I finally found out that I had been casted as Danny, I thought I was going to explode from all the emotions I was experiencing all at once, but the very first thing I did was hug my mom because she is the one who helped me through all this,” Shaw said.
“I was at the park with a few of my friends from Keller High School, and one of them shouted ‘It’s up!’. I unlocked my phone and saw Doody: Aaron Frye. I couldn’t believe it at first and I almost don’t believe it now!” Frye said.
The rehearsal process will begin Aug. 29 with a full cast read through. Performances will be the last two weekends in October, with opening night on Oct. 20 at 7 p.m. and closing night on Oct. 30 at 2 p.m.
See the full cast list below and all the performance dates.
Oct. 20 @ 7 p.m.
Oct. 21 @ 7 p.m.
Oct. 22 @ 2 p.m.and 7 p.m.
Oct. 23 @ 2 p.m.
Oct. 27 @ 7 p.m.
Oct. 28 @ 7 p.m.
Oct. 29 @ 2 p.m.and 7 p.m.
Oct. 30 @ 2 p.m.
See the full cast list at this link: District Wide Musical Cast List