Hours on the clock tick by everyday after school as the cast prepares for its big day rehearsing, singing and dancing. As the performers sweat, remembering their lines and translating their bodies in the correct motions, the first date of the performance approaches regardless. March 16th marks the first showing of Westwood High School’s musical, “Once on This Island.”
Following last year’s spectacular musical performance, “9 to 5,” the theater kids of WHS hope to match it this year in musicality and entertainment. For many students in the cast, this is their fourth and final year of performing on the auditorium stage of WHS. However, Erin Fitzgerald transferred this year as a junior and was cast as “Ti Moune,” the lead of the musical.
Fitzgerald, however, was not uncomfortable or unprepared when she found out she got the lead, as she has been performing for her whole life. She said, “It was crazy. It was so exciting. Everyone brought it at auditions, so having that was just amazing.” Fellow junior and cast member Rachel Bernardo said, “She’s perfect for it and I love seeing what she does with the role.” Although Fitzgerald is happy with her part, it has not been completely stress free.
“When you’re in a show, you tend to have downtime with your cast members where you get to chill out backstage and hang out. I feel like a challenge is that you have to lose that time where you get to bond with your cast, but at the same time you still bond with them onstage, so it’s still a lot of fun,” Fitzgerald said.
But the challenge isn’t just for her, as their rehearsals are everyday after school, spending hours of time with Mr. Ratsavong, the choreographer, Mr. Goldman, the music coordinator, and Mr. Howard, the director. They meet with Mr. Ratsavong twice a week, where they have warmups very physical warm-ups that include many crunches and push ups. Then they meet with Mr. Goldman once a week to rehearse their songs and memorize every piece word for word by the piano. For Mr. Howard, they bring it all together on the stage and fix the problems when running through the acts.
There is so much to be excited about for this musical, but Fitzgerald said, “I look forward to the upbeat music and the dancing, because everyone worked really hard on it and it’s really great choreography.” Bernardo said, “I’m excited to see all of the lights and technical aspects come together because that’s what the audience actually gets to see.”
Musical Theatre International describes the show as a “Calypso-flavored tale of one small girl who finds love in a world of prejudice.”
The musical premieres March 16th at 7:30, followed by March 17th at 7:30, March 18th at 2:00 and 7:30 at the Westwood High School Auditorium.