BROOKVILLE — The Brookville Area High School will be presenting the musical Freaky Friday on Thursday under the guidance of vocal director and choreographer Anna Osiol (music teacher), acting director Mickey Truman and pit conductor Kyle Grabigel (high school band director).
The choice of Freaky Friday was not selected by Osiol or Melinda Burton, business manager.
“Neither one of us picked it, actually. Every year we kind of take a look at – we being the directors – there’s been a change in directorship and so Miss Osiol wasn’t with us at the time this show was picked and she kind of stepped into this. And when she agreed to do the musical, she said ‘OK, we’ll do Freaky Friday,’” Burton said.
“They had asked me. They said, ‘Hey this is the musical for this year.’ It was when I was getting hired. They said, ‘Do you want to keep this or do you want to switch to something more familiar?’ I said no because the kids already know it. Everybody already decided it. I’d rather just step in and go with it,” Osiol said.
Every year in the spring the directors, both acting and vocal, take a look at the students for the next year as well as what musicals are available, what has been done in the past, and what has not been done at BAHS, Burton said in explaining the process of selecting the following year’s musical. She said also taken into consideration is the appeal to the audience of all ages, be family friendly and yet “intrigued our teen actors and students within the school.”
Freaky Friday made the “short list” along with a few other possibilities. Freaky Friday won out because it hasn’t been done in the local area as far as they know and it’s never been done at BAHS. “It’s a great show; it’s hysterical,” Burton said. “It’s a new show. It’s got a lot of current topics.”
“I think everybody is going to take something away from it. Whether you’re older or you’re younger, or you’re right in the middle, there’s a message I think for everybody,” Osiol said, adding “and some of the songs are pretty funny.
“It’s a really good show to be had as my first one and to be working on,” Osiol said.
The musical selection is announced in the spring, so the students coming into this school year all knew what the musical would be. Osiol said she was the only one who didn’t.
Announcing the selection before the end of the school year allows for students time over the summer to prepare for auditioning. The auditions are held the first full week of school in the fall.
“Most of the students who have really taken musicals on, it’s something that they love and enjoy doing; it’s something they take very seriously and prepare for over the course of those couple of months leading up to auditions,” Burton said.
At Brookville music students perform a musical in the fall and the drama club performs a drama in the spring. Historically, high schools usually do a performance in the spring but at Brookville that transitioned over the years to a fall performance for the musical, opening the door for a drama to be performed later in the school year.
The drama club directors are not part of the musical and visa versa, Burton said. “It’s really two different groups that we’re interacting with but a lot of the students cross over.”
There are 56 students in the cast for Freaky Friday. Osiol said the number of students involved started out in the 60s but it has dropped a little bit. Those students range from 7th grade to 12th grade. Besides the cast there are six student musicians, six in the stage crew with two of them also being part of the cast.
“We figured that these two girls that we picked to do main curtain are extremely responsible and they’re in the show so they know the show really well. When they’re not dancing and singing...they can be main curtain,” Osiol said, adding that they also made sure that when one is in a song, the other student is not.
There are also a handful of art students involved in the production as well, Burton said, “so about 70 total.”
Auditions began the second week of school but Osiol had to hit the ground running even before that.
“When I first got hired (in July) one of the things that immediately happened was they connected me with the Music Boosters. So I got music booster meetings and then there were connections with Mickey and Melinda and everybody involved in the musical to get this going, to pick out dates, to figure out how we’re going to run rehearsals...”
One of the things she said that scared her a little bit was that the previous director “had been so kind to leave me a list of like a timeline of how things normally worked. I started looking at the timeline and getting a little freaked out,” she said. She was a little behind on some of the items listed, but with help from Truman and Burton, all was soon on track.
Rehearsals are done every day from 2:45 p.m. to 6 p.m. or from 4-7 p.m. or even 4-8 p.m.
“The goal is to kind of push them (the students) at the beginning to learn all the music, all the lines that you can and then kind of ease back to now. So that when the stress level is getting high, you shouldn’t be fearful of it because you’ve known it and you’ve practiced it four-plus hours a day,” Osiol said. The rehearsals began the Monday after auditions so students have been rehearsing for the musical since mid-September.
She said at first they rehearsed the big group numbers and Truman pulled the two leads out and talked to them about their backgrounds and how the musical connected to them.
“She (Truman) started immediately running lines, blocking things with them so if I wasn’t needing them in a music rehearsal, she would take them when she got here at 4 p.m. and take them over there (in the music room) and block with them. We had the show blocked within the first week, completely staged I’m sure she said within one or two weeks,” Osiol said.
There were days, she said, when they rehearsed a musical number in the music room and then went to the stage and choreographed it. Then back to the music room to rehearse a number and then back to the stage to choreograph. She noted that’s how it went for several days, back and forth again and again.
“The tricky part,” Osiol said, is seeing how the scenes interweave with the (musical) numbers. However by two weeks prior to opening night they were down to tweaking transitions between musical numbers and scenes. Students had gotten used to going back and forth from one number to the next but now as they finish a song, there are added items that must be done such as taking a stool offstage with you after a number in order to prepare for the next scene.
Cast members are not the only ones who have been practicing. There are six student musicians and nine professional musicians providing the music for Freaky Friday.
The students will double the parts that the professional musicians are playing with the exception of one, Grabigel noted.
“Just to sit next to someone that has the experience of playing that instrument for so long and at such a high level...,” Grabigel said in commenting on what an opportunity it is for the students.
“It’s a big challenge for the students, but for the ones who are up for the challenge it’s good for them,” Kyle Grabigel said.
The musical books that accompany Freaky Friday are thick and have key changes that the students are not used to, Osiol noted, giving the example of the violins playing in flats a few times, when usually violins play sharps. Strings, she added, normally play sharps while brass plays flats.
The student musicians are very dedicated to learning the music because it takes practice at home.
Burton noted that some of the professional musicians in the pit have been part of the musicals for the past 20 plus years. She and Grabigel agreed, “there’s a lot to be said about a live pit with professional musicians.”
“It just brings the show alive,” Burton said.
“Brookville has such a rich history of musical theater that that’s one thing I’m so grateful that the school board, the administration that we have the support that we do in this community. We really have a strong sense of pride in what we do with this show and the production.”
Osiol said there are three faculty musicians playing – Mathew King (orchestra director), Royce Hetrick (elementary band) and Laura Grabigel (elementary choir). “We have the entire musical faculty involved, completely – which is awesome.”
All the hard work being done by students, faculty and others will come together this Thursday when the curtain rises on opening night. The production will be performed Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the high school. While tickets were sold in advance, those that are remaining will be available at the door for $10. The Box office opens at 6 p.m. and the curtain rises at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Refreshments will be provided during intermission all three evenings by the Brookville Area Education Association.
For more information contact Melinda Burton at email@example.com or (814) 849-8372.