By SAMANTHA PIDDE
West Carroll High School's musical, “The Wedding Singer,” will be presented next weekend, Jan. 17-19, marking the first time the high school musical will be performed at Timber Lake Playhouse, 8215 Black Oak Rd., Mount Carroll.
"For the past 15 years WCHS has performed their musical in the gymatorium (gymnasium/auditorium)," said Director Robert McFletcher-Jones, who joined West Carroll this year as the choir director and vocal music teacher. He also joined TLP last summer as Education Director.
McFletcher-Jones told the Mirror-Democrat/Times-Journal that this "incredible opportunity" would not have been possible without a grant from the West Carroll Education Foundation to partner with TLP and working professionals.
He said this opportunity has "provided a much needed space for our students to blossom."
"Timber Lake Playhouse is a staple of excellence in this community and nationally recognized for its artistic prowess," McFletcher-Jones said. "Through the winterization of the TLP and (Executive Director) Dan Danielowski and the Board of Directors' dedication to Education, the benefits of this promising relationship between West Carroll and TLP are endless. We have an opportunity to reach more members of the community who have never ventured out to TLP but will come out to show their West Carroll Pride!"
Work on the musical began in early October and McFletcher-Jones said the students participating in the musical have been working extremely hard since then.
"Even with most of them being in multiple sports and extra-curricular activities, they are still dedicating their time to this production," McFletcher-Jones said, adding, "I am forever amazed by how incredibly supportive and talented both this cast and crew is. They have become one unit."
The cast and crew officially moved into the TLP space this past Saturday, Jan. 4. McFletcher-Jones said the students were excited to move into the space and work with professionals.
"This has elevated the quality of the show immensely," McFletcher-Jones said. "Our students have grown tremendously under the guidance."
McFletcher-Jones also noted that TLP donated a part of its set from the Christmas Kaleidoscope. The set has been repurposed and has become the "framework for the world of The Wedding Singer!"
"Having full access to props, costumes, lights and sound has given us an opportunity to have a high quality production, which these students have earned," McFletcher-Jones said.
“The Wedding Singer” will be presented at TLP at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 17, and at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 18, and Sunday, Jan. 19. Doors will open 30 minutes before the performance begins.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students. Tickets are general admission and can be purchased online at http://www.timberlakeplayhouse.org/, or by visiting the Timber Lake Playhouse box office between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday or calling 815-244-2035. Tickets may also be purchased at the door.
Based on the 1998 film of the same name, “The Wedding Singer” follows Robbie Hart, a wedding singer who has had his heart broken.
McFletcher-Jones said that just like the movie, the musical is "hilarious,” adding it is the perfect ensemble show, "edgy enough to be relevant but light-hearted enough for all to enjoy."
The production has “great music that will remind you of your favorite tunes of the 80's," he added.
Cast members include:
Charlie Cross as Robbie Hart; Brennon Cavanagh as Sammy; Korevon Encarnacion as George; Hannah Guilinger (dance captain) as Julia; Gabe Guerra as Glen Guglia; Maya DeWitte as Holly; Ella Gilmore as Angie; Nikki Honchell as Linda; Grace Shelly (voice captain) as Rosie.
Ensemble members include:
Ash Rahn, Joseph Partin, Geneva Zach, Pippin Legel, Natalie Limesand, Krystal Barrales, Ragenea Kloss, Korevon Encarnacion, Aaliyah Jones, Derek Tracy, Thai Hoang, Daisy McCray, Hunter Fritts, Robert Clay and Ashton Miller.
Technical crew members include:
Lauryn Holley, Chase Bentley, Ellanore Foltz, Jaidyn Sisler, Alice Coats, Deni Davis, Kloey Ostendorf, Amery Scheper, Chloe Grater, Ana Galves, Katlynn Stretton, Kathleen Honchell, Aubrey Charles, Skarlett McCutcheon.
Members of the pit orchestra include:
Janell Hartman (Keys), Beth Bower (Keys), Ryan Shelly (Guitar), Abe Koontz (Bass), Jim Robinson (Percussion), Emily Nunemaker (Reeds), Denise Deter (Reeds) and Mike McCoy (Trumpet).
The “creative team" is comprised of: Director Robert McFletcher-Jones; Assistant Director Celia Hartman; Choreographer Michael Jones; Music Director Emily Nunemaker; Costume Designer Terri Miller; Light Designer Jeff Holley; Scenic Designer Whitney Meltz; Sound Designer Michael Gothard; Hair and Make Up Designer Hailey Yenney; Stage Manager Hannah Johnson; Assistant Stage Manager Shayla Roberts; Technical Director Ryan Shelly; Carpenter Andy Hughes.
McFletcher-Jones encourages people to come out to see “The Wedding Singer” and recommends they get their tickets early and arrive as soon as the doors open.
"We are having an 80's party from beginning to end and all are invited to attend,” he said. “Come join the party! Dress to impress in your best 80's wear. We will have the tunes jumping and the games going as soon as you enter. See you soon!"