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Latest News: Press Release

George School Production of Musical Chairs Features Ensemble Cast

Monday, February 20, 2006  
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Issued: February 17, 2006

George School's musical theater class will perform the show Musical Chairs on Thursday, February 23, at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, February 24, at 8:00 p.m.; and Saturday, February 25, at 8:00 p.m. The performances, which will be held in Walton Center Auditorium at George School, are free and open to the public.

Director Maureen West described the production as "a bittersweet comedy." Written by Barry Berg, Ken Donnelly, and Tom Savage, the musical itself is about an audience at the opening night of a fictitious off-Broadway play entitled Forest of Shadows. The characters include the author of the play, his former wife (who is now a Hollywood star), a bickering married couple, two women with unfulfilled theatrical aspirations, and three drama critics. "Basically the play is about getting inside the heads of these people," Maureen said. "It allows us as the real audience to see how these characters—and I think, ultimately, we—relate to the people in our lives." Maureen said she chose Musical Chairs in part because she wanted each student to have an equal role. "It's an ensemble show," she explained. "There's no lead."

With music and lyrics by Tom Savage, the songs illustrate what the characters are thinking about as they watch their play. "They really are monologues set to music," Maureen said. "It's kind of surreal." Brandon Wright, a George School senior from Newark, New Jersey, will appear in the role of the playwright, Joe. Brandon explained that his solo, "My Time," is about Joe's hope that the play will revitalize his career and his fears about what could go wrong. "His ex-wife comes to see the show, which makes it all the more frantic for him," Brandon said.

PJ Yurcak, a senior from Far Hills, New Jersey, will play Joe's former wife, Valerie, who is now a famous Hollywood actress. "She comes to see [the play] to support him," PJ explained. "They're both still proud of each other." However, seeing each other again proves to be challenging for both characters, and as the evening progresses, they reflect on their past difficulties. "He had trouble dealing with her success," PJ said.

PJ said she has enjoyed being part of an ensemble cast. "Everyone has a good part," she said. "That makes it much more interesting to work with everyone." Brandon added that he likes having the opportunity to work with students who have varying degrees of experience in theater. "It's interesting to see people develop and grow," he said. "I think it's a really good cast." Amanda Darby, a senior from New Market, Maryland, has likewise enjoyed being a part of the Musical Chairs cast. "I've met so many new people through the musical that are going to be my friends after I graduate," she said.

Musical theater became a regular course at George School four years ago. Students rehearse four to five days a week for one term. Maureen said that this allows for a strong sense of continuity in the rehearsal process, which can be difficult to achieve for a musical theater production in a high school setting.

As with all musical theater productions at George School, musical direction is by Jackie Coren, costumes are by Liz Lukac, choreography is by David Abers, and sets are designed by Scott Hoskins and built by his stagecraft classes. For more information about the show, please call 215-579-6568.

All George School students take four, year-long courses in the arts. In addition to drama and stagecraft, the arts department offers courses in vocal and instrumental music, dance, video production, journalism, painting and drawing, woodworking and furniture design, ceramics, and photography. The arts department encourages students to be creative and enjoy themselves while they practice and appreciate a specific art form. In addition, students learn to be discriminating when they evaluate their own and others' work.