Kent Island students shine in ‘Cinderella’ musical
STEVENSVILLE — Under the direction of Kent Island High School drama teacher Kevin Reagan and his experienced leadership team, the record 136 students involved in this year’s spring musical, Rogers & Hammerstein’s “Cinderella,” deserve a standing ovation. This is Reagan’s ninth musical since taking over the reigns of the drama department nine years ago. It is also his 18th major production at the school. In the fall, his students performed the drama, “Diary of Anne Frank.”
Reagan, always pushing the envelope to challenge his students, this year has added new dimensions into the show: animal hand puppets, a live high school orchestra conducted by Kim Mogensen, fog special effects, amazing costumes arranged by the talents of Donna Pomerantz and her team, and a life-sized wooden mechanical horse created by the excellent work of technical director Tom Ellis.
The “Cinderella” performance engages the audience from the first scene with the majority of the cast filling the rows of the auditorium singing, as Prince Topher (soon to become king) rides onto the stage atop his white wooden horse “Buttercup.” The mechanical wooden horse is used several times during the performance.
Reagan has the most overall student talent ever in this production, so much that there are two complete casts of major role performers. The Silver Cast and Blue Cast rotate production nights. Ella (Cinderella) is played by the very talented Clara Groves and Ally Sweiderk; Prince Topher by Jacob Ward and Crispin Blamphin; Marie (Fairy Godmother’s) by Delaney Cha and Karenna Foley; and so on. Delany is the only senior student among them. In fact, of the 136 students, 104 are underclassmen. All perform and sing very well.
For the third consecutive year, I’ve had the pleasure to sit next to dance teacher Wally Dashiell, former owner of Dashiell School of Dancing in Stevensville. She is a wealth of knowledge into what is an outstanding performance by young people, having directed and overseen many recitals. At 93, she continues to be impressed with Reagan’s productions, saying, “This guy (Reagan) is amazing what he does with these kids! It’s unbelievable how many students are involved. It’s incredible. The parents at Kent Island High School should be thankful they have someone who has his talent to work with their children.”
Reagan is also provided important longterm guidance and experience from event choreographer Amber Wright, herself a proud, self-described “Dashiell girl” who teaches dance at KIHS, and vocal director Jennifer Butler. Both bring tremendous personal experience to advise and get the most out of the students they work with in the productions. For example, senior student Regan Baker choreographed “the chase scene” where Prince Topher desperately tries to find Cinderella once she abruptly leaves the Ball. Regan Baker is also a former “Dashiell girl.”
Reagan said, “There is no way anyone can do all of this work with this many students alone. I rely on all of my supporting members to make these events meaningful to our students.”
Previous Reagan-directed musicals included “42nd Street,” “Annie,” “Hairspray,” “Grease,” “Kent Island Musical Revue,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” and “The Phantom of the Opera.”
Reagan added, “We choose productions considering the different experiences we want our students to have in the four years they are here at Kent Island High School. We want them to have as wide a range of experiences with productions as possible.”
Remaining shows are the Silver Cast performing at 7 p.m. March 10, the Blue Cast performing at 7 p.m. March 11 and the Silver Cast performing at 2 p.m. March 12.
Tickets are available online at kihigh.org. Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for students. Reservations are advised. The performance this past Saturday, March 4, was sold out.