By Louisa Benatovich
If you’re searching for a pick-me-up in the dull and dreary pre-spring weather, look no further than the Ellicottville Central School musical.
This year, the ECS Drama Club is performing a Rogers and Hammerstein classic sure to color the overcast sky.
Under the direction of Pat Waldron, ECS students are tackling the glorious challenge of “Cinderella: The Musical.”
“I just love how excited the students were to perform this,” said Waldron, Ellicottville’s elementary chorus teacher. “They were off-book in what felt like seconds. I’ve been able to watch many of these students grow from when they were in kindergarten. It’s so rewarding to watch them blossom into these characters.”
Assisted by Deb McGowan and Stacey Chapman, Waldron has enlisted help from all fronts. With handmade costumes and an expertly-crafted set, this musical bears love from an entire village.
Allyson Fisher, a senior, has taken on the challenge of choreographing this childhood fantasy.
”The hardest thing about choreographing the musical was trying to teach people that have no dance experience how to do different types of dance moves and having them remember,” Fisher said.
Lucas Yerpe, the musical’s omnipresent accompanist, can especially attest to the hard work put into perfecting the numbers. Often serving as a male vocal coach, Yerpe has seen the production grow from the very first rehearsal into what it is today.
“The most rewarding part of this whole experience is how I am able to express my true self when playing another character,” said Meganne Chapman, senior and sixth year Drama Club member.
Jaclyn Freundschuh, who plays the musical’s title character, echoes the statement.
“I think the best part about playing Ella is simply that it makes me want to be a better person,” she said. “The part really pushes me to be kind and gentle to every person I meet. I also love playing Ella because ever since I was little, I’ve always wanted to be a princess of some sort. This is sort of like a childhood dream coming true!”
Even with all the positives, musical rehearsals come with excruciatingly long rehearsals and constant repetition.
To get through it, senior and seventh year drama member Kayleigh Coolidge maintains a positive mindset.
“I enjoy the overall experience of our productions from the spotlight to the roles to the people to the challenges our cast overcomes along the way,” she said. “I love becoming a different person on stage and seeing life through my characters’ perspectives. I push through the long hours by knowing every experience in life is a piece of myself that I discover. I can put those together to become the person I’m meant to be. Performing is just another piece of a bigger picture.”
Alongside their singing classmates, a few students were invited to add their instrumental talents to the mix. Senior Ginna Hensel, a fourth year drama member, has played in the pit band for three years.
“The best part about playing in the pit is being enclosed by all my instruments,” she gushed. “Stepping into the rectangle surrounded by black curtains is like stepping into heaven on Earth. I also love that no one really pays close attention to the musical accompaniment, but without us, there would be no show.”
In short, the hearts and souls of many a student and teacher were placed into this production.
“The community should definitely come and witness how hard we’ve all worked and see us united to make something so great possible,” said Gabby Squires, senior and Drama Club member. “It’s sure to be…a lovely night.”
If you don’t get that musical reference, be sure to join us at ECS on March 21, 22 and 23 at 7 p.m. for a musical treat fit for the whole family. Tickets are $7 at the door. See you there!