As dress rehearsals go, the last go-around before Lee’s Summit High School’s public presentation of “White Christmas” could be considered a success.
Held Nov. 13 at the school, just two days before the show’s premiere and barely a day after a live rendition during a Parent’s Night showing, the dress rehearsal revealed talented singers and dancers, impressive actors and actresses and several seamless transitions from one set to another.
No, things weren’t perfect, but if the seats of an empty auditorium were full, a round of applause may have been in order for a cast that includes three seniors and one sophomore in lead roles.
Scheduled to show Nov. 15-16 and Nov. 22-24 at the school, the musical follows two World War II veterans and their song and dance act as they end up following a couple of sisters to Vermont. While there, they decide they can help out their former commanding general who has happened upon hard times running an inn.
Show times are at 7:30 p.m. each night except for Nov. 24’s matinee, which begins at 2:30 p.m.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said senior Daniel Verschelden, who plays Bob Wallace, one of the leading war vets along side Andrew Wright’s Phil Davis. “(Parent’s Night) was a good run. I think it also helped point out a lot of the things we need to look at before opening night which is usually how that goes. It was really good. The parents loved it. My mom said all of the parents were talking about it. It was just a really fun run.”
The sneak preview of the musical showed chemistry between the four leads, and a dynamic between the group seldom seen in high school productions. A senior-laden cast could have had something to do with that, Wright said.
“There is really nothing like it,” he said. “Standing in front of a full house of people and singing as a lead role in the show and someone that really has a part of the story is really just a thrilling experience.”
The newbie of the group, sophomore Kirsten Myers, held her own alongside senior Adee Dancy, who plays ‘Betty Haynes,’ and opposite Verschelden and Wright. She displayed poise, talent and a firm grasp of the role of the younger sister ‘Judy Haynes.’
“They’ve been wonderful,” Myers said of her older cast mates. “They’ve been very helpful in teaching me a whole lot of things and I get to teach them some things and it’s been wonderful. We’ve been friends from the start and they are so wonderful.”
Dancy was more than approving of Myer’s work as well as that of the rest of the cast led by the two senior front men.
“It’s such a great experience,” Dancy said. “I was really excited that we all got put together because its’ our senior year and we just have a really great time and we work really well together. We’ve always worked really well together in the past, so I think it’s a really special thing that we get to start our senior year doing that.
“(Myers) is an incredible actress, singer and dancer. She goes above and beyond for everything and she’s incredible to work with. She plays my sister in the show and now we are even sisters off stage, so it’s been great to work with her.”
Choreographed by Phyllis Balagna of Steppin’ Out the Studio in Lee’s Summit, the musical’s director Micah Hensley, was pleased with Balagna’s work with the cast as was Wright.
“She is an excellent choreographer,” Hensley said. “She brings a strong discipline to what they’re doing with the dance. Some of them have never had dance classes, but you would never know that if you see them on stage because she’s done such a great job in getting them trained up.”
Added Wright: “(Balagna) is a great choreographer. She really likes to pay attention to every last – I mean major points of the show that really define us a cast and really stick with the audience when they leave the theater that night.”