For Hannah Zizza, a trained choral performer, the process is mental.
For her onstage love interest, freshman Adam Lucht, the process is following Zizza’s lead.
Zizza and Lucht are just two of a group of Summit Christian Academy theater students starring in the musical “Meet Me in St. Louis,” based on the classic movie of the same name. SCA premiered the show for the public Nov. 14 and will perform it again at 7 p.m. Nov. 15 and at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Nov. 16 at the school.
The cast of 25 includes junior and senior high students, as well as four elementary students, and is directed by Emily Stam and SCA vocal music instructor, Trissa Lucht, and choreographed by SCA student Grace Gronberg, a junior.
“I play Esther Smith and she is a bit of a lunatic,” Zizza, a senior, said a day before the premiere. “At the beginning of the show she comes out and she talks about this boy that just moved in next door and she is totally convinced that she’s in love with him. Her goal through the whole show is to get him to fall in love with her.”
And what is Zizza’s approach on stage as a singer and actress in a musical?
“I’ve taken classical voice lessons for three years,” she said. “I’ve done choir for eight years. I’m classically trained but musical theater is a very different ballgame. ‘Esther’ is actually an alto and I’m a high soprano so that was really fun to explore that whole different kind of territory.
“With musical theater it has to be big and showy and that was really interesting. I feel much more comfortable with it. The biggest thing for me is actually mentality. I can’t let my guard down. I know that from previous shows.”
In all his wit and charm, Lucht said Zizza’s on-stage persona has helped him ease into his first theater production as a high school student.
Lucht portrays ‘John Truitt’ in the play.
“As a character I’m pretty shy about it,” Lucht said of his character being pursued by Zizza’s ‘Esther.’ “I don’t really like to talk to her at first. I try to sing a song to her and it doesn’t go very well; I don’t even look at her. It’s interesting.”
Zizza added: “Working with Adam is really fun. He’s a freshman, which is interesting because of the age difference. That was kind of a barrier at first, but I feel like we did a really good job of working through that.”
Stam said the theater department chose “Meet Me in St. Louis” because of its family-friendly nature, which she believes is a perfect match for the upcoming holiday season.
“It’s really a classic and it fits our community well,” Stam said. “It’s really about the value of family and the kind of day-to-day drama that happens with families and we thought that would be fun. It fits our kids well as well so it made sense for the students that we have right now.”
Two days before the musical’s premiere at SCA, students performed a taping of the show. Zizza said the taping was a way to better understand what they needed to work on to perfect the production.
“It went really well, actually,” said Zizza, a veteran of 12 SCA productions as a high school student. “It was probably one of the best tapings we’ve ever had.”
Lucht was in agreement with Zizza’s assessment.
“It went really well,” he said. “Everything came together for me. I was really worried about the stage kiss but it went better than I thought it would.”
As for his lack of acting experience, Lucht said he’s just trying to learn the ropes from the veteran cast.
“I’m not that great of an actor, but people have said I can sing all right, so I’ll take that” he said. “It’s been really helpful working with (upperclassmen). I probably wouldn’t have done as well if I would have been with somebody my age. (Zizza) really knows what she’s doing and she really gave me a lot of helpful tips, especially with the romantic scenes. I’m looking forward to really being able to put on a good show for people.”