A musical unlike any other

Drama departments cast and crew are starting to prepare for the winter musical


Photo courtesy of Mars Zekpa

The annual winter musical is in high gear. The theater department is excited do a Disney Production.

Avery Looney, Staff Reporter

Drama departments cast and crew are starting to prepare for the winter musical  

As this school year progresses, fall activities are in full force. That goes for the Millard West Theater department as it gears up for its annual winter musical Disney’s Descendants: The Musical. The cast and crew are looking forward to putting on the unique show.   

The announcement of the show back in late spring had many buzzing with excitement due to the unpredictable choice. Millard West’s show history does not consist of any Disney productions so many were surprised when the announcement was had. Having never done a Disney show at Millard West, this drama season is unlike any other.  

“Usually, I’m not into doing Disney musicals,” drama teacher Brooke Philips said. “I feel like there’s too much pressure to do it exactly as people want. When I saw that Descendants was being released, I was super excited about it because not everyone has seen Descendants. There’s a target audience that is familiar with it and I thought it would give me more freedom with my interpretation of it.” 

Due to last year’s COVID-19 regulations, the drama department was unable to do their usual number of shows. Which includes three plays and one musical. The pandemic limited the department to put on all four usual productions as l well as limiting audience numbers. This gave them all the more reason to do a crowd-drawing production this winter. The department decided to do a show that would surely get people’s attention. Disney, being an immensely popular franchise was a no-brainer.   

“We were really lacking on funding due to COVID,” Philips said. “We lost a lot of money last year. Everyone in the theater business says if you want a money maker, you do Disney.” 

For many people, the musical is the highlight of their year. Usually having the largest cast and crew it’s the biggest production the drama puts on the department. It stirs anticipation and enthusiasm in performers.   With such a different musical being put on, students were extra excited for the opportunity to take the stage.

“I love performing in the musical,” junior Sadie Kottich said. “It is my favorite thing to do all year. I auditioned because as well as performing and doing shows, I really love singing and dancing.” 

Although many students are excited to participate, the musical directors have a very meticulous audition process. This is to ensure the best performer is selected for each role.

 “We do a dance audition, singing audition and we have people read lines,” Philips said.  “We look at people who are our triple threats. These are the people who can sing and dance and act. From there, we usually pick people who score high in all these categories.”

Actors rehearsed frequently to make sure their onstage performance was the best it could be. For many, the audition process failed to make them anxious. 

“I practiced the dance with my audition team beforehand and sang through my song a few times,” sophomore Mars Zekpa said. “It wasn’t really a hard experience and the audition was short and sweet. I’ve auditioned for things before so I wasn’t really nervous.”  

After a few days of waiting, the cast list was released and Zekpa was pleased with the results. They had gotten the role they hoped for; Cruella De Vil. They were honored to get a lead role despite their spontaneous decision. 

“I was really excited and happy, mostly surprised because I wasn’t expecting to get a role because of how late I decided to audition,” Zekpa said. “Additionally, I wasn’t planning on auditioning but the show seemed so fun I just had to and I’m really glad I did.” 

Another aspect that’s setting this show apart from others is the choice to cast younger kids along with high schoolers. There were about a dozen kids and young teens that auditioned. There was a requirement; they had to be a child of a teacher at West. Like many Disney productions, this show is bringing adults and kids together. 

“I thought it would bring a youthfulness to the high school cast and help us remember why we’re doing a fun Disney show- it’s really for the kids,” Philips said. “We’ve had a lot of success bringing kids in the past. It’s probably been four or five years since I’ve done a show that’s involved kids. I thought this would be a good show to test the waters again.” 

The show is scheduled to premiere in December. Many months of rehearsal are ahead for the cast and crew members. Anticipation grows as the actors prepare for their big show.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing the set and costumes because I know there are tons of ways this product can be interpreted,”  Zekpa said. 

The audition process can be stressful for some but it never disappoints to leave people thrilled. The cast and crew will begin preparations for the show in the next weeks to come. With this being a large production is will take all hands on deck to accomplish. Many people are excited to come  see the high-energy show.The musical will be shown on November fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh. You can buy tickets at mwt.booktix.com.  . The uniqueness of the production is going to be one to remember.