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The Timeline of a Musical

Lelah Schneider, Staff Writer

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What does it take to organize a show? We interviewed the director of Lindbergh’s theatre program, Jessica Winingham (English Department), to find out.

Choosing the Show: March Through April

After much deliberation, Ms. Winingham, in conjunction with Ms. Swearingen, selects a show for the coming year. “It’s usually announced by the spring show, because we try to put it in the program,” Winingham said.

Preparation: March Through February

“Over the summer, I oftentimes think about what I want to do to stage it. I block certain sections, I make decisions, I decide with Emily [the choreographer] what songs she’s going to choreograph. She works on that, and Ms. Swearingen does most of her work with me in the fall with scheduling, and then we decide on audition materials in October. I basically work on a musical 24/7.”

Casting: November

Auditions take place over the course of two days in the middle of November. On the first day, a Monday, students audition with one to three musicals selections from the show. Then, on Tuesday, two groups alternate between acting with Ms. Winingham and dancing with Emily, who also works with the school show choirs.

“Luckily, Ms. Swearingen and I are really good at casting with similar brains. In the singing, we generally have an idea of who we think would be good for certain roles, and then we’re always open to people being completely surprising. After the singing, I write down who I think would be right, and she writes down who she thinks would be right, and when the students leave we talk about it, and legitimately ninety-nine percent of the time, we have exactly the same. The next day, with acting, I’m basically saying, ‘Yes, they can sing, but can they fulfill the role?’ And most of the time it works out really well; sometimes it doesn’t.”

The Rehearsal Process: November Through February

Starting in November with read-throughs of the show and ending with what is called throughout the theatre world as “tech week”, rehearsals continue over the course of four months.

“In the best case scenarios, over a period of years, people get better at their positions and take ownership. Those are the ideal moments, because they, then, teach the people below them, and we can just leave it alone. So the ideal is that by the time someone’s a senior, I don’t even have to do anything. They just go. In an actual show, though, I’m happy with any improvement.”

Tech Week: The Week Before

“Tech week is so not stressful here. When I was young, tech weeks were terrible, because they were rehearsals that had no ending time, and we would be up until however late figuring out the tech. Because I’m a planner and not a procrastinator in any way, that doesn’t happen to my cast.”

The Shows

“Tech week’s fine, but show week is brutal. School is really hard here, and teaching is really hard here, so all of it together is brutal. But in terms of a lot of shows, these shows go so smoothly.”

Come see The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee on Thursday 2/25 at 7:00 P.M.; Friday 2/26 at 7:00 P.M.; or on Saturday 2/27 at 2:00 P.M. & 8:00 P.M.! Tickets are $7 for students and $10 for general audiences. Buy them at lunch, at the door, or at

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