Get ready for eye-popping productions dazzle audiences at Katy Area high schools.
By Ryley Rush | KATY MAGAZINE, September 2017
At first, it seems difficult to disagree. When the curtains come up on a dazzling production it’s hard to imagine that real life compares to the action-packed stage. One peek behind those curtains though, and you might just change your mind. There is far more than meets the eye when it comes to show business, and Katy’s own high school theatre directors and thespians can attest.
Of Katy ISD’s seven high schools, each puts on at least two major productions per year, often more. And while run length varies based on school and show, each respective theatre director agrees that productions are planned roughly a year in advance. “As soon as we close the annual musical, we’re talking about next year’s musical,” chuckles Kelley Hughes, Mayde Creek’s head theatre director. Others, like Seven Lakes High School theatre director Chocs Landgrebe, have sifted through and set next season’s showsby May of each year, unveiling the upcoming productions to their students at each annual end of the year banquet. Then there are months of preparation leading up to opening night.
Creative Collaborations “Each show requires so much of our students’ time and their awesome parents’ time and understanding, since their kids are with me probably more than they are with their own family,” Katy High School’s Kelly Burnett says. “Our kids work so hard. They are really dedicated. They spend hours at rehearsal, and then hours outside of rehearsal working on their scripts and the show.”
According to Hughes, rehearsals are Monday through Thursday for two hours after school, and Fridays have four hours of rehearsal time. Saturdays are sometimes made up of six hours, but that doesn’t account for individual time spent learning lines or doing research for their role. And roles are not limited to those performed on stage, either. Many of the students putting this kind of time and effort into a show will never even be seen by the audience.
“We have costume crew, makeup crew, sound, lights, fly crew, publicity crew, set crew, and run crew,” Landgrebe ticks off the many and diverse groups that invisibly power every onstage experience. “They have a lot of responsibility, and my staff and I oversee them, but once the show starts, we do nothing. We just sit and watch the show.”
Standing Ovations It may not be glamorous, but for the students and directors involved, it is in the trenches of these shows where the real value of their theater programs is found.
“We push our students, and they always rise to the occasion,” Burnett says. “Theater teaches them so much. How to organize your time, multitask, and stick with something once you’ve committed to it. They learn to work with all different types of people. I could brag all day about my kids, but I love working with them and seeing them get creative and have a good time and just grow so much each show.”
Tommy Tune Award Winners
The hard work paid off for Seven Lakes’ theater department with their six Tommy Tune Awards Nominations - best leading actor, best scenic design, best lighting design, best stage crew and technical evaluation, best musical direction, and best orchestra.
The final product may wow a crowd, but the hours and effort put in by students and their directors alike are anything but dull. For those involved, from the leading lady to a run crew member, each production is simply the grand finale in a months-long process worth a standing ovation.
KATY ISD'S FALL PRODUCTIONS
The Wizard of Oz - Morton Ranch High School
The Brothers Grimm Spectacular - Seven Lakes High School
You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown - Katy High School
RYLEY RUSH is a freelance writer for Katy Magazine.
Photography courtesy of Katy ISD High School Theatre Departments