Dressed in black, Hickman sophomore Brandon Davis listens for his cue over his headset, both hands clenching the vertical rope. All at once, he furiously begins pulling, alternating hands to reach above his head and pull down the rope. Slowly and steadily, the curtain opens on the first scene of Hickman High School’s “Meet Me in St. Louis.”
The musical, which has been in rehearsalfor seven weeks, will open Wednesday and run through Nov. 22.
The weekend stage is also set at Rock Bridge, where students will perform “The Secret Garden.” The musical, based on Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel, opened Wednesday and runs through Saturday.
Rock Bridge senior Jessica Pierce, who plays Lily, said everyone involved has been extremely focused because all aspects of the production are so big.
“It’s a bigger production than the other musicals that we’ve done,” Pierce said. “There’s more plot, there’s a lot of music, the sets are bigger. Everything is just bigger.”
In “The Secret Garden,” Mary Lennox is forced to move in with her Uncle Archibald when her family dies of cholera. With nothing else to do, Mary begins to spend her days outside and finds her dead aunt’s unkempt garden. While she tends to it, she helps rebuild the garden and relationships in her family.
While the production itself may be bigger than past years, the 47-member cast is smaller, said Jennifer Black-Cone, performing arts center director at Rock Bridge.
“Since this is a demanding score and there is very little choreography, the directors decided to have a cast comprised of our best performers,” Black-Cone said. “Therefore, to get into the show was a high honor.”
Robin Steinhaus, musical director at Hickman for six this year everyone from actors, costume designers, stage crew and orchestra members have been working exceptionally hard. She said the number of students working on “Meet Me in St. Louis” is consistent with past years.
“We usually have between 125 and 150 students involved every year,” she said.
“Meet Me in St. Louis,” originally a motion picture starring Judy Garland, revolves around the Smith family. The family becomes upset when their father announces that the family will have to leave their beloved home in St. Louis to move to New York. The family is particularly disappointed because they will miss the opening of the World’s Fair and Exposition, and the move will interfere with the love lives of sistersEster and Rose.
Senior Jordan Wright, who plays Ester Smith, the lead character in “Meet Me in St. Louis,” has been in two other plays at Hickman, but this will be her first time playing a lead. She knows she will be more nervous than usual this year.
“I get really jittery, but I just go out there and let all my jitters out in my acting,” Wright said.
Wright, who has aspired to be a country singer since she was 3, enjoys performing in front of people.
“What I like most about acting is that it’s really cool to pretend like you’re somebody else and get to be dramatic,” she said. “It relieves a lot just being up there on stage and portraying somebody else’s personality.”Senior Chioma Anyanwu, who plays Katie, the Irish maid in “Meet Me in St. Louis,” has enjoyed the camaraderie of the cast.
“You really get a bond with the people because you have to be with them all the time,” Anyanwu said. “We can really be ourselves around each other, and I really love the people.”
Despite initial feelings of intimidation, Rock Bridge freshman Will Sevedge said the rest of the students have made him feel comfortable as a freshman.
“I’m a freshman, but they don’t treat me like a freshman,” he said. “I feel more equal here. These guys all treated me like their friend, and that helps a lot.”