Due to last year’s terrible Covid situation, Exeter Summer students were not able to participate in the annual end of summer production. Thankfully, this year, around twenty students are back and working hard as they prepare for this year’s musical! It includes a mix of “Annie”, “Matilda”, “High School Musical”, “Six Ex Wives”, “The Greatest Showman”, “Les Miserables”, and many more!

The rehearsals run in the Goel Center Theater & Dance, and on July 18, students had their first official dance choreography practice. Rehearsals consist of an one hour meeting, three days a week.

In order to participate in the performance, you have to go through a tedious audition. According to Janae Brown, one of the performers, the audition process was tough because you “had to learn a [a whole] dance [routine] in fifteen minutes, and only fifteen out of around sixty people got in.” 

Director, actor, and teacher Rickey Watson has been directing the summer productions since 2018. This year he plans on doing something different. “This is the first year we have music and dance together, this is also the first where we’re doing numbers from a musical,” he said. He admitted to being very excited about this new adventure and really proud of his students because “this is the quickest I’ve ever put up a show because everyone is so advanced, so it’s easier to give the choreography.” 

During rehearsals, there was lots of energy while kids were using props such as canes and dust sweepers. It is an occasion to see everyone incorporate their characters and gain confidence from what they are doing. A student in Cilley Hall, Kristen Hurtado, is playing Miss Hannigan in “Annie” and also performs as a backup singer. She explained how she finally dared to audition, despite being scared. “I didn’t realize my talent until I sang in my dorm and my friends said I should try out,”she said.

Being in a room learning the lines and choreography creates a sense of teamwork and connection. Coco Ji, the stage manager, describes that being together “is where we can build connections while showcasing talents. Everyone has built a great relationship.” Since Covid, everyone has been away from theater, so nobody has had the chance to reunite inside and enjoy. But now, Mr. Watson is glad everyone can “sit inside and have a cathartic moment, and purge emotions together in one setting.”

Everyone has different opinions on what they are most excited for, but Bella Holt said, “I am really excited to see the costumes and how they will turn out.” Anne-Marie Forger will be the costume designer for the show this year. “I’ll design looks for the characters and students will most likely be wearing all black and I’ll add garments during dress rehearsals,” she said.

When asked about how she gets inspiration, she said, “I get inspiration from the director and cast themselves; I try to match the vibe of the characters to the costumes.”

As all the numbers are prepared with so much passion, it is difficult to choose a favorite. “I can’t even tell you, it changes every day depending on what we are doing, but right now it is… I don’t know,” said Mr. Watson. “I’m just excited to see the final outcome, the students putting everything together, the acting, singing and dancing.”

The musical at session’s end will take place in the dance theater on the second floor. Everybody can watch and there will be around 200 tickets, so make sure you hurry and buy them when they are available! 

And don’t forget, as Janae said: “If you want to try something and you’re too scared, just do it, you’ll never know what’ll happen.” If students can overcome their fears to perform a show in front of hundreds of students, you too can do anything!