Kent Is­land stu­dents shine in ‘Cin­derella’ mu­si­cal

Record Observer - - Arts & Entertainment - By DOUG BISHOP dbishop@kibay­

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 ki­ Ad­mis­sion is $15 for adults, $10 for stu­dents. Reser­va­tions are ad­vised. The per­for­mance this past Satur­day, March 4, was sold out.

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