Musical brings early start to holiday spirit

The cast of New Prague High School’s fall musical "White Christmas" pause for a photo during practice on Tuesday,Nov. 19. The production, based on the classic holiday movie, opens a five show run on Friday, Nov. 22, at the high school auditorium. To see more photos click on the Blue Button. (Patrick Fisher Photo)

New Prague High School opens its fall musical this weekend with the stage version of "White Christmas."

The show is based on the holiday classic movie starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen. The musical will be performed five times at the high school auditorium, 221 12th St. NE. Show dates are 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22, Saturday, Nov. 23, and Nov. 30, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 24 and Dec. 1.

"Rehearsals are going well," said Ben Thietje, director of the high school musical. "The four leads are doing a great job, as we knew they would. But we're also getting superb performances out of a lot of the supporting and chorus roles, as well. And that's what can turn a good show into a great one."

Leads for the musical are Connor Amundson as Bob Wallace, Charlie Murphy as Phil Davis and Emily Schoenbauer and Emma Deihl as sisters Betty and Judy Haynes, respectively. All four have been featured in past productions at the high school and Generations Theatre Company.

"It is for sure one of the most fun shows I’ve been in," said Schoenbauer. "It’s a hard working cast and everybody has the best attitude and wants to be here."

One aspect of the show she found a bit scary is that her part is heavy with singing, but she works hard to learn the songs.

It’s not that surprising that Schoenbauer and Deihl are playing sisters as they have been working together so much in many of the productions.

We work really well together," said Schoenbauer. "We’re so used to having that person who’s there for us on stage."

"A dynamic duo," said Deihl. "And she’s my best friend and that makes it really enjoyable." She noted she’s the goofier of the two like her character Judy. For Deihl a challenge in the show has been the tap dancing. "I’ve never taken a tap dancing class in my life," she said, adding she learned the piece.

Amundson noted his part is bigger in some ways than other roles he’s had. "It’s a lot of singing, a lot of lines, the most I’ve ever done in a show," he said. "It’s been a lot of hard work, but I know it’s going to be worth it when the show is put on."

As to being in the part played by Crosby, he said, "It’s a lot to live up to." He had never seen the movie, but he recently watched it. Amundson said about the character, "It’s actually been pretty tough coming up with an older character. I got a lot of help from Ben."

"It’s been a lot of fun," said Murphy, who is the partner to Amundson. Murphy is bringing a lot of energy to his role as he has a lot of costume changes, singing and lines. "It’s a little stressful, it always is at this time, but it will be a great show, probably the best one I’ve been in." As to playing the part done by Kaye, Murphy said, "It’s different from a lot of the characters I’ve played. He’s silly, crazy, wild and a little bit of the ladies man."

Chris Loose is the costume designer and said there are 2,000 pieces for this show. She noted that Roz Carson has been their lead seamstress and has worked on hundreds of pieces. There are also 10 significant quick changes for costumes. "New Prague is fortunate to be in a costume consortium with four metro schools so we share costumes back and forth," said Loose.

Addie Thietje, Ben’s mom, is the producer; music director is Rita Sapp; choreographer is Nicole Thietje; set designer is Dave Edberg and lighting designer is Dan Cross.

"I'm excited to see it with all the tech elements in place," said Thietje. "It'll do a great job of getting everyone in an early holiday spirit."