Harrison Best took a short break from operating the light board in the darkened control room in the back of the auditorium at Timber Creek High School.
On a Thursday evening just a week before opening night of “Grease,” the Keller district-wide musical, the control room was buzzing with technicians for lighting and sound and stage managers for a “cue to cue” rehearsal to check transitions between scenes.
Best, a Keller High junior, is one of more than 200 students from all four high schools working on “Grease,” which runs Oct. 20-30.
While some students and parents expressed concerns when they first learned about the combined musical, kids and directors involved in the production are giving the experience rave reviews as they approach the finish line.
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“I love it,” Best said. “I get to meet a ton of people from all over the district, and now I have a whole new theater family.”
About 120 students are in the cast and another 100 are working in the crew.
More than 400 students tried out in a complex audition process. The district-wide musical, dubbed DWM by those in the know, has its own team app to post audition instructions, online applications and places for actors trying out to upload head shots, times of rehearsals and alerts for new information.
An audition workshop started the first day of school to help students learn a short dance and part of a song for tryouts.
Directors created two casts for the speaking roles, so the ten performance run could be divided in two.
Madeline McNew, a senior at Fossil Ridge who landed the role of ChaCha, said the auditions were tough.
“Normally when we’re auditioning at our school, we know who’s good at what,” McNew said. “Here you had no idea what you were up against.”
Delaney Brinkley, a Central High senior who plays Marty, said auditions were tough, with more read throughs and call backs due to the size of the pool.
Working with students and teachers from other schools has its advantages.
“Everyone has their own ways of doing things, but you can learn a lot from watching everyone around you,” Brinkley said.
The 100 crew members include 60 students building sets, dozens working sound and light and managing props and four stage managers and eight assistant stage managers.
Raegan White, an assistant stage manager and Timber Creek sophomore, said she appreciated learning from Keller High teacher Samantha Fields who has extensive experience as a stage manager on large productions.
White said, “She’s fabulous. Her system is very organized, and I’ve learned a lot from her.”
Melissa Freeman, Keller High theater teacher and DWM director, said there have been opportunities for the 18 teachers involved to learn, too. Teachers can focus on their strengths and make the whole production better.
“Everyone here is an expert in something,” she said.
As for managing such a huge prodection, “It’s been very hectic but so rewarding,” Freeman said. “We’ve all made some really great friendships.”
If you go
Timber Creek High School
12350 Timberland Blvd, Fort Worth
Ticket details and evening, matinee showtimes at www.KISDGrease.com