A Knight at the MAC

ON POINT: Captain Chanyn James and the Blue Brigade officers perform in the shows opening number “Let’s Go To The Movies”. The shows opener was one large dance that contained different small dances within it, showcasing different groups such as the team officers and different grade levels. Photo by Risa Darlington-Horta.

AT FULL STRETCH: Sophomore Matthew Vargas performs his award-winning solo to  “I’ll Never Love Again” as the audience bursts with cheers and applause. At the Westwood Competition in February, Vargas achieved a near perfect score of 199/200 with this dance, ranking first in his division.  ”To be able to showcase my solo to the school was a really amazing experience, sometimes I feel like people underestimate me and to be able to show what hard work I have put in feels amazing,” he said. Photo by Madelynn Niles.

DANCE DADS: The Blue Brigade dancing dads perform duets with their daughters during both nights of the show. The BB Dancin’ Dads is a tradition during the spring show every year. Photo by Madelynn Niles.

FLASHY FINALE. The 2018-19 Blue Brigade poses at the end of their spring show. The performance was quite emotional as the senior members were dancing together for the last time. “It was really surreal. I had spent the last three years watching the other seniors dance their dolo part and never thought that my time to do that would ever come,” senior Sophia Salo said. “When ever I listen to last dance, I will always remember the dance and my amazing experience on Blue Brigade.” Photo by Caleb Melville.

STRIKING A POSE: Maddie Cevallos extends her arms as she performs her “Senior Solo”, a tradition that has been around at MAC Blue Brigade for many years. It was an emotional night for the senior members, as it was their last performance with the group. “It was bittersweet. I was happy to close out my last year on Blue Brigade by performing my solo that I worked hard on. But it was also very sad realizing that that was my last time ever dancing.,” Cevallos said. Photo by Madelynn Niles.

UP AND COMING. Officers for the 2019-20 season perform their first dance together. The dance was to the tune “Dreamgirls” and was the same dance as they performed at officer tryouts.  The 2019-2020 officers consist of Juniors, Addie Secker-Martinez, Matthew Vargas, Valentina Paredes, Andrea Paredes, and seniors, Lilly Brown and Amelia Paul. “I am so excited to lead the team next year as an officer because I have always loved Blue Brigade and I’m thrilled to get to share my love with the team as well as lead us to success as one big family,” sophomore Addie Secker-Martinez said. Photo by Caleb Melville.

PRINCES OF PAGEANTRY: “Opening Knight at the Movies” Deron Gage and Gabe Williams perform their duet “River”, previously seen at the Mr. McCallum pageant where Williams won the title of Mr. McCallum. Both Gage and Williams, members of the Varsity Football team, were the MCs of the show. Photo by Madelynn Niles.

FLOWER POWER: During the final performance of “Opening Knight at the Movies”, prior to the closing number “Last Dance”  senior Ellie Stites gives her mom gives her mom a rose and hugs her during a bittersweet moment. As a senior, this was Stites last performance with the Blue Brigade. Senior members each perform a solo as their individual goodbye to the team. Photo by Dave Winter.

A LEG UP: Smiling brightly, Amelia Paul, Sydney Buford, and Ella Irwin perform their junior dance — a recreation of the pep rally performance to “Born this Way” by Lady Gaga. Each grade level was featured in their own showcase dance, alongside mass group dances and senior solos. “Working in a small group let us show off our skills in a fun way,” Buford said. Photo by Madelynn Niles.

SPRINGING INTO ACTION: Junior lieutenant Amelia Paul does a back handspring. Paul and fellow junior Lilly Brown, who performed a duet together later in the show, will be the senior co-captains next year. Photo by Risa Darlington-Horta.

In the sixth episode of ‘The S-Word,’ sophomore film students discuss their upcoming projects

Staff reporter and producer Stella Shenkman sits down with five of McCallums A/V Club members to discuss film, McCallum’s cinema classes, and their new youtube channel. Sophomores Jude Gravoir, Erik Jenssen, Quinn Lawrence-Sanderson, and Alex Martinez discuss their highs and lows within the club.

From soldier to songwriter

Sal Gonzalez‘s life forever changed after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Gonzalez would put on hold his dream to make it in the music business so he could serve his country in the United States Marines Corps as a machine gunner in the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines.

“I watched Americans die, innocent civilians,” Gonzales said, “and I decided that I needed to go do my part and serve the country that had given my family such an awesome life.”

I watched Americans die, innocent civilians, and I decided that I needed to go do my part and serve the country that had given my family such an awesome life.”

— Marine veteran Sal Gonzalez

He would join the Marines on Oct. 21, 2003, seven months after the initial assault on Iraq in the Shock and Awe campaign. During his time as a Marine, Gonzalez survived six IED (improvised explosive device) attacks with little to no damage, but on one day in 2004, an IED blew up next to his Humvee in Ramadi, Iraq. He survived the explosion, but his left leg didn’t. Gonzalez doesn’t remember what happened after the explosion. All he can remember is that he woke up in the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., with his leg badly injured. Eventually his leg was amputated below the knee.

Gonzalez would tell you he was lucky because the explosion that cost him his leg cost his commanding officer, Lt. Matthew Lynch, his life. Lynch’s death has been the hardest part of the ordeal for Gonzalez to accept.

“The main challenge I faced was survivor’s guilt,” Gonzalez said. “One of my Marines, Matthew Lynch, was killed in the explosion that took my leg. That affected me a lot deeper than I thought it would. I grew up in a bad place in east L.A. and I didn’t think those things would affect me as much as they actually did.”

RECORDED ARTISTS: The McCallum Guitar ensemble performs and records “White Christmas” for the Wounded Warrior Project’s “Hope for the Holidays” album. Photo by Dan Bodoh

Adjusting to civilian life after serving in a combat zone has also been a tough transition for Gonzales, as it is for many veterans returning home.

“The military teaches you how to take care of yourself in a combat zone, but unfortunately, America is not a combat zone,” Gonzalez said. “Always thinking something is going to happen to you or always [being] afraid of something going on, you just get tired, and you get depressed, and you don’t want to go outside, and it turns into a chore to go anywhere. I had to learn how to make those things not a chore.”

That’s where The Wounded Warrior Project comes into the story. They helped Gonzalez get back on his feet after he was out of the hospital. The Wounded Warrior Project is a non-profit 501(c)(3) that works to rehabilitate veterans and help them get the physical and mental therapy they need to assimilate into society.

You just get tired, and you get depressed, and you don’t want to go outside, and it turns into a chore to go anywhere. I had to learn how to make those things not a chore.”

— Marine veteran Sal Gonzalez on the challenge of returning home

Founded in 2003 by veteran John Melia, who was severely wounded after his helicopter crashed in the U.S.-led Somalian Intervention of 1992, the organization aims to help those veterans affected by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and has paired up with several other non-profits such as the American Red Cross and Operation Homefront.

Gonzalez says the WWP helped him tremendously in his recovery.

“They’ve helped me in every way, from learning how to get active again, to not just learning to do stuff with a prosthetic leg, but knowing that I could do normal things with my prosthetic leg,” Gonzalez said. “ Learning that I could ride a bike, that I could rock climb, that I could do Jiu Jitsu, that I could do anything really. I was abled, just differently.”

The biggest part of the recovery process, for Gonzalez however, was being able to be social again and want to go out and do things.

“Working with Wounded Warrior Project and being with other wounded warriors made me want to go to therapy, made me want to get better so I can be a better example for my brothers and sisters,” Gonzalez said.

Since his injury, Gonzalez has rekindled his career as a musician, starting first by competing as a contestant on America’s Got Talent in 2014.

ON THE RECORD: Piano students also got the chance to record a medley of Christmas songs for the album. They also worked in a master class. Photo by Dan Bodoh.

Gonzalez now works with the Wounded Warrior Project to help spread the message and importance of what the organization is doing, in addition to regularly recording and performing music. He recently recorded with country music icon Blake Shelton. His latest single, which will be released as and EP in May, is an homage to the trials and tribulations of being a soldier.

The song, titled “Heroes,” was inspired in part by the loss of Lt. Lynch, his brother in arms. He was very close with Gonzalez and the loss was devastating for him. Gonzalez performed the song for McCallum students on March 10.

Now for the first year ever, the Wounded Warrior Project is collaborating with up-and-coming artists to record a Christmas album that will be released in December 2019. In addition to working with singer/songwriters such as Sal Gonzalez and country music artist Ryan Kinder to name a few, the WWP project has enlisted the help of select high school groups nationwide to record Christmas music for the album to be either combined with the performances of the solo musicians, or to be stand alone instrumental pieces.

McCallum was one of the schools offered this chance. The McCallum piano ensemble recorded a piece that was a medley of Christmas songs. They also were able to work with a working pianist in a master class/jam session at the Ocean Way Studios in Nashville on March 12. The experience was a unique one for McCallum’s piano and guitar students.

I think it’s a great opportunity for not only the students, but Mr. Clark and I as directors. We’re supporting a really great cause and it was a great experience for everybody.”

— piano director Sarah Wiley

“I think it’s a great opportunity for not only the students, but Mr. Clark and I as directors,” piano director Sarah Wiley said. “We’re supporting a really great cause and it was a great experience for everybody.”

The guitar students also got a cool experience, recording White Christmas for the album, and they spoke with Ryan Kinder, an up-and-coming  country music star. Kinder encouraged those students who wanted to become musicians as a career to stay committed to the job and to be patient. For Kinder, it took 10 years before he gained traction in the industry. The chance to be on this album came as a bit of a pleasant surprise to guitar director Andrew Clark.

“One of the organizers at ETA adventures cold emailed me about the opportunity in June and before that even happened I was thinking, ‘Boy, it would be cool if we could go to Nashville next year,’ so I jumped right on it and applied, sent in the videos,” Clark said.

The album will come out in December of this year and all of the proceeds will go directly to helping the Wounded Warrior Project complete their mission of rehabilitating veterans and providing support to the nation’s heroes.

“This album will mean a lot because it goes to show that young people care about their country and that they care about the veterans that serve on their behalf all across the globe in combat zones, in non-combat zones,” Gonzalez said. “I just know warriors will be grateful when they see what you guys have done.”



In the fifth episode of ‘The S Word,’ the winter guard reflects on its historic season

Staff reporter Ellen Fox sits down with the four Color Guard seniors who have been on the guard since its inception three years. The Guard enjoyed its best season in its short history this year closing the competitive season with four first-place finishes, culminating with a first place finish in the area competition in which the team set an all-time high score and ranked first in the entire state in its classification.

Artist Profile: Marlee Foster

As her mother would say, Marlee Foster sang before she talked. From a very young age she knew she loved music, especially the kind she could make herself with her own voice.

“It just became a part of me I couldn’t live without. I could never imagine not singing,” Foster said.

Although she had a great love for singing, and practiced herself a lot, she attended St. Francis for middle school and because it was much smaller she wasn’t able to do much choir through school. However, when she heard about McCallum and the choir program here, she immediately noted it and decided she would apply.

HERMIA: In her first lead role in last year’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (AMND), Foster danced and sang. “{AMND] was the first straight play I’ve done so it was fun being able to just act more.” Photo by Risa Darlington-Horta.

“For me, it was like ‘Ok, this is an arts school’ and I didn’t know of any other schools like that, and, I don’t know, I felt like where I belonged was a school where everybody was committed to their own talent. I applied to be a film major and then also to be a choir major because I love writing stories too, so then I decided I wanted to be able to sing every week, all the time so I became a choir major.”

For Foster, this was the right decision.

“[Choir is] a very social thing, so it’s brought me closer to so many people, and to so many different artists,” Foster shared. “There’s so many talented people in choir and just hearing their voices just makes me so happy because I get to be a part of something full of so many talented people and it’s just amazing.”

Her choir experience has been exceptional, and being able to sing every other day meant a lot to her. However, with all the opportunity at McCallum she felt that she should take advantage of it: being in choir opened up another important door for Foster.

Whenever I finish writing a chorus or something and I listen back and it’s really good, it makes me so happy because I think ‘wow people are actually going to like this’.”

— Marlee Foster

“Being here, all the performance majors are woven together so choir, dance, and theater are connected, so I’m also getting a musical theater certificate. I love being onstage… being here you get to be a part of everything.”

On her way to getting her musical theater certificate, Foster has been in three shows so far; part of the ensemble for hit shows West Side Story (2018) and Starmites (2019), and Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2018).

“I got a lead in Midsummer, which was surprising because I’m not a theater major or anything… [playing Hermia] was really fun! I got to hang out with more people and that was the first straight play I’ve done so it was fun being able to just act more,” Foster said.

Being in choir has also allowed Foster to have some great experiences, her favorite being Cabaret and the New York trip the choir took last year to perform at Carnegie Hall.

“I feel like Cabaret last year was really great because that was when I first got to meet so many people. During Cabaret all the different choirs come together to put on this big show and with that I just got to meet so many people and perform with so many people and it was just so fun. Also, the New York trip last year, we went and performed at Carnegie Hall, and that was magical. Not gonna lie, I was walking off the stage and crying because I’m a sentimental person and our conductor I could tell was like ‘what why are you crying’ but you know… I was just so happy to be there,” Foster recounted.

As well as performing pre-written choir and musical theater compositions, Foster writes her own pieces, her highlights being ‘Echos’, a song about falling in love but being left behind and holding on to something you can’t have, and ‘Headache’, which is about having strong emotions and how holding them in feels like a headache.

“I’ve been a song writer since I was really little, I love writing songs, it’s kind of like people have their own different ways of venting and mine is songwriting… sometimes it starts off with a melody in my head and I’m like ‘aww that’s really pretty’ and I try to put words to it, other times I come up with a phrase or a saying and I write a melody to go with it. It’s all about building until you have a completed song you’re proud of.”

She writes her songs with one important detail in mind: the audience’s perception. She performs her songs at coffeehouse, where songwriters and poets can go on the stage and share their art with an audience.

“Whenever I finish writing a chorus or something and I listen back and it’s really good, it makes me so happy because I think ‘wow people are actually going to like this’ and I just feel so happy. Even though I write the music for me, I also write it for other people to enjoy, so when I know that they will it’s just such a great feeling,” Foster shared.

Performing in front of a crowd can be daunting. However, Foster always tries to find a way to use that energy to execute a better performance.

“There’s always a current of nerves that’s always underneath everything, and there’s no way to get rid of it. It’s not like you can get rid of the nerves entirely, they’re always there, but for me they help me to perform better. I just think, ‘these people have come here to watch me perform and to watch me do well so that’s exactly what I’m going to do.’ Whenever I’m onstage, the best part is when you just take in the audience and you realize you’re performing for them and so you have to give it your all. That’s when I can hit those high notes and then I think, ‘yes I know this is what they want.’ It’s this awesome connection between the audience and you that’s really special.”

After high school, Foster is not absolutely sure how she wants to continue with music- though she knows that she most definitely does.
“For me, choir is to learn more about music, and to learn more about singing, and I know I want to do singing until the day I die so it would be awesome to do it as a career. I know even if I go into something else I’ll still be singing, I’m never going to stop singing, so I think I’m just going to take what I learn here and bring it into possible schooling. I may go to a music school, I also love composing music and writing songs; learning more about voices is something that choir has helped teach me so that way I can write better music for myself and for other people to sing.”

At the end of the day, it’s one thing that drives all of Foster’s dedication to music: the ability to connect. To Foster music and choir especially is all about connection, whether that be connection between a composer and their music or a singer and their audience.
“Singing is like a gift that you get to share with an audience, and whenever you get to share that gift with so many different people it’s always an experience that nothing can compare to.”

In second episode of ‘The S Word’ podcast, GAHSMTA nominees take us behind scenes of ’42nd Street’

In the second episode of The Spoken Word, host Alex Dowd and producer Stella Shenkman sit down and talk with GAHSMTA-nominated members of the cast and crew of 42nd Street. Lauded as Austin’s version of the Tony Awards, the Greater Austin High School Musical Theatre Awards celebrates musical theatre in more than 30 Centex high schools with an awards ceremony in the Long Center featuring more than 500 high school performers who will receive a total of $35,000 in awards, scholarships and grants.  

MacTheatre received nine nominations for its production of 42nd Street, which tied 2017’s Me and My Girl as the most nominated musical in MacTheatre history.

The nominations include best actor in a supporting role to junior Tosh Arora, best actress in a supporting role to junior Lilah Guaragna, best featured performer to junior Owen Scales, best technical execution, best musical direction, best production, best ensemble, best orchestra and best choreography.

Arora, Guaragna, Scales and Zoe Hocker, one of the scenic heads of the GAHSMTA-nominated technical crew, share their stories of what it took to bring 42nd Street to life and what they take from the experience and the broader experience of musical theatre at McCallum. We simply could not squeeze this amazing conversation within our usual time limit for a podcast. But give it a listen and we think you will agree we made the right decision to keep the recorder rolling until the conversation ran its full course.

Juniors Tosh Arora, Owen Scales and Lilah Guaragna and senior Zoe Hocker discuss the process that brought 42nd Street to life and the meaning of musical theatre in their lives in the latest podcast episode of The S Word on The Shield Online. Photo by Dave Winter.

Going out youngsters, coming back stars

A fitting end to the Yellow Brick Road

At the area competition on Saturday, the winter guard capped off the most successful competition season in its three-year history by finishing first place in its division for the fourth competition in a row.

Not only did the guard earn Gold at the area competition, it also earned its highest score of the season and the highest score of any guard competing in area competitions across the state.

Since it is not a state year for the Mac winter guard, the area competition marks the end of the yellow brick road for the guard and its four senior members: Claire Rudy, Sydney Bunce, Helena Sandberg and Emily Freeman.

All of us at MacJournalism congratulate the guard on all of its successes this season. We dedicate this #TuesdayTop10 to the team and its historic season.


An archive of ‘Artistically speaking’

Momentum a debut for some, a farewell for others

The annual spring dance show, “Momentum,” performed by the McCallum Youth Dance Company, was a debut for many dancers and a farewell spring concert for others.

For sophomore Aydan Howison, in his first year as a dance major, the show was his debut performance.

“Each piece that I took part in was so unique in its own style.” Howison told Macjournalism. “Before this show, I had never heard of Flamenco dance and the culture that surrounded it.”

Howison participated in multiple genres of dance in this performance, such as Flamenco, modern, and contemporary.

“I loved being able to express emotion through movement.” Howison said. “It’s something that can change someone’s life for the better.”

While Howison and his fellow Emerging Dance Troupe members made their first spring concert performance, the senior members of the Pre-Professional Dance Company made their last.

For senior Chloe Shields, Saturday night was her last performance dancing in the spring dance show with her company.

“It hasn’t quite hit me yet that this is my last show,” Shields said. “I’m excited but also nervous because that means that this is actually the end of high school, and I am not sure if I am ready yet.”

Shields has participated in the McCallum dance program as a major for all four years of high school.

“I know that I will keep dancing after this show no matter what.” Shield said. “But being a part of this program for all four years has been a big part of my experience, and without it will be different regardless.”

We are pleased to share some of our favorite images from this weekend’s performances as our #TuesdayTop10 photo essay for this week.

— photos by Risa Darlington-Horta, Stella Shenkman and Dave Winter

Artistically Speaking: Jules Sease

The Shield: How did you get into fashion?

Jules Sease: I was sewing quilts [for] quite a while there. How I got into fashion was that I saw the prompt for the fashion show, and I saw that one of the prompts has like the devil figure, and that really interested me, so I was like “I’m going to do this!” and that’s how I got into it, because I had no prior experience to it.

TS: Where did you get the inspiration for your fashion collection?

Photo provided by Sease.
Sease’s religious self-portrait, titled, “Saving Grace.”

JS: The devil figure. I really am interested in the figure of the devil just in art in general, and then from the devil figure I drew from ideas of arcs of the devil figure in media like the devil child, the devil lady, because she’s a seductress, the exorcism, demonizing others for what you see in yourself and the classic devil look, with the fire and stuff.”

TS: What designers have influenced you?

JS: I’m a painter; that’s my first thing that I do. Traditionally, that has carried over influence what has been [in my fashion work]… like [Jean-Michel] Basquiat.

TS: How did you create the pieces in your collection?

JS: I sewed every one of them. For four months, I sewed.

TS: What is your favorite memory from the fashion show?

Gregory James
Alejandra Berrelleza models one of Sease’s devil-inspired designs during the Jan. 12 fashion show, Paradigm, in the MAC.

JS: The gratification of [my designs] all fitting and the fact that they looked good. I was really happy with the outcome of it.

TS: What art classes are you in?

JS: I’m in Sculpture II, Ceramics AP and Painting III.

TS: Are you in the Fine Arts Academy?

JS: I’m not, because I failed Spanish in eighth grade.

TS: What is your favorite art piece that you have created so far?

JS: I really like my recent one I did. I’m trans, and I’m on hormone replacement therapy for testosterone, and I used the shots that I used every week, three months worth of them, to create a religious self portrait.

TS: What types of art do you sell/create?

JS: I sell little small clothing and fabric items, and I sell portraits and commissions. … I do mainly portraits; that is my thing, and I’ve done a lot of dog art.

Photo provided by Sease.
Sease’s painting, titled “I’m Getting Better.”

TS: How are you selling your art?

JS: All through Instagram.

TS: What artists have influenced you in your art?

JS: Basquiat, and a man named David Wojnarowicz. He was an artist who died in the ’90s of AIDS. He was really influential within that community.

TS: How did you learn to paint and do all these kinds of art?

JS: I have always been interested in art. When in ninth grade I started to go through some really rough mental-health issues, that translated over to doing art constantly as a coping mechanism. I went through 13 journals within eight months. That’s what made me start, really.

TS: What made you want to become an artist?

JS: I feel like art is a really powerful thing to share experiences with and reach people who might not typically see the experience that you share within art. Also, it’s just a communication within people of different human experiences and how we experience life in general.

TS: What type of art do you want to learn to create?

JS: I would like to do more fibers. I would like to do bigger pieces with fibers, like soft sculpture. Also, paper-making; I really want to learn how to make paper.

TS: What are your plans for the future?

JS: I’m trying to go to art school, if they give me enough money.

TS: Do you have any particular ones in mind?

JS: Yeah, MICA [Maryland Institute College of Art,] which is up in Baltimore, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Those are the main two right now.

— interview by Olivia Watts

The official Shield guide to the best of SXSW

Meet those dancing feet

Almost a month after MacTheatre closed its production of 42nd Street, the cast and crew are still reaping the rewards from their sold out musical.

Tuesday morning, members from the cast and crew of 42nd Street headed to the Long Center to attend the Greater Austin High School Musical Theatre Awards nomination ceremony where MacTheatre received nine nominations. The nine nominations ties 2017’s Me and My Girl as the most nominated musical in MacTheatre history. The nominations include best actor in a supporting role to junior Tosh Arora, best actress in a supporting role to junior Lilah Guaragna, best featured performer to junior Owen Scales, best technical execution, best musical direction, best production, best ensemble, best orchestra and best choreography.

“[Being nominated] was very rewarding, and I’m very proud of everyone,” senior Sophie Petrosky said. “It’s nice to be nominated for all of our hard work.”

[Being nominated] was very rewarding, and I’m very proud of everyone. It’s nice to be nominated for all of our hard work.”

— senior prop head Sophie Petrosky

The drama, lights and showmanship of Broadway took over the McCallum Arts Center as 42nd Street took center stage from Jan. 31 through Feb. 7. The show first hit the stage in 1980. The stage version of 42nd Street originated as a 1930s movie that was based on a book of the same name. The writer of the book, Bradford Ropes, based the story line off of a personal experience he had lived through in the theatre.

42nd Street follows a young singer, dancer and actress named Peggy Sawyer (Helena Laing) who has just been cast in an up-and-coming Broadway show, Pretty Lady, as a chorus member. In that role, she is introduced to the world of Broadway divas and harsh directors. The show faces many challenges as the actors go through relationship struggles and changing roles during the rehearsal process and opening of the show.

Compared to last year’s production of West Side Story, 42nd Street must have seemed a little more lighthearted. West Side Story was heavy on violence and forbidden love including murders and gang violence. Arora, who played Billy Lawlor in 42nd Street also acted in West Side Story.

42nd Street is kind of all about song and dance extravaganza, presentational, very Broadway and very out there,” Arora said. “My character is also very a part of that, and he’s a very presentational guy. In West Side Story, the conflict was just so much more intense. It was gang war, and people were dying and so the stakes were just different and playing a gang leader who’s driven by anger and hatred of another group versus someone who’s driven by fame and lust is just two sides of the point.”

Something that both shows had in common were the countless rehearsal hours spent perfecting the acting, dancing and singing. Guaragna played Maggie Jones, who along with Bert Barry (Sam Richter) played the script and song writer of Pretty Lady, experienced it all during the months leading up to the show’s opening.

Bella Russo
Junior Tosh Arora as Billy Lawlor plays his lead role in “Pretty Lady” as he performs his tap solo atop a six-foot wide dime in the number, “We’re in the Money.”

“West Side Story and 42nd Street are both huge shows to put on, with heavy dancing, elaborate sets and difficult music.” Guaragna said. “42nd Street in particular is a giant spectacle of a show, larger than West Side Story, including insanely huge sets and over 10 production numbers. Both shows are challenging, but 42nd is the biggest production in MacTheatre history. We have been rehearsing 42nd Street since the 19th of November. After school rehearsals are typically two hours with four-hour rehearsals on Fridays. On Saturday, we have longer rehearsals around six to seven hours. Once we get into tech week, we rehearse up to five hours after school, and up to 12 on the weekends.”

The audience is given a glimpse of all the work that goes into a show in 42nd Street. The show mostly focuses on the actors of Pretty Lady but also shows quite a bit of the writers Maggie and Bert, the stage manager, Mac, (Avi Blum) and the accompanying pianist, Oscar (Jonathan Forbes).

“They start the show off with an audition, and they hire people,” Arora said. “It kind of exposes the inner workings of the theatre.”

The audience even gets to see the theatre the company practices in, painted on one of the many backdrops. 42nd Street goes into the private lives of the actors from pre-opening night parties to relationship drama and personal struggles within the leads of Pretty Lady. On the contrary, Mac, the experienced stage manager, knows what he’s doing.

“He’s kind of like a seen it all, kind of bitter been-there-done-that guy,” Blum said. “He’s been around Broadway and the theatre for years, so if anything happens, it doesn’t really surprise him because he’s seen it all.”

Like Mac, 42nd Street’s actual stage manager, senior Zora Moore-Thoms, has a lot of experience in the theatre.

“This is my fifth show stage managing at McCallum so I’ve had a lot of practice,” Moore-Thoms said. “A lot of the time it’s just learning not to take it personally when people get mad at you or yell at you.”

I’ve learned so much, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity, even with the high highs and low lows.”

— senior stage manager Zora Moore-Thoms

Even though Moore-Thoms hasn’t had quite as much experience as Mac, she certainly knows what she’s doing. Every set that is put into place and every spotlight that you see has been put there by someone on the tech crew who has practiced for weeks.

“It was such a huge show, with all the things flying in, the stairs, all the costume changes,” Moore-Thoms said. “The directors were drilling us really hard with constant notes so that added a lot of stress.”

The show’s dance numbers alone required a large attention to detail because of the sheer number of cast members and difficulty of the choreography. Guaragna enjoyed the final product of those numbers.

“My favorite song to perform in is probably ‘Go Into Your Dance,’” Guaragna said. “My favorite song in the show to watch is ‘We’re in the Money’ because it is a huge dance number with giant prop dimes and a ton of energy.”

Owen Scales, who played Andy the choreographer, also choreographed the number, “Shuffle Off to Buffalo,” in which chorus members wear pajamas and dance on a train. He said “watching the number and seeing my friends enjoying their time doing it” was the best part of the experience.

Moore-Thoms also said that the camaraderie of the cast and crew, make the hard work worth it.

“There are so many things that are unique to McCallum shows,” Moore-Thoms said. “Good Show, going to Amy’s Ice Cream the first Friday of the show and going to Central Market after strike on closing night … makes it all come to a nice ending with everyone sitting on the patio eating and talking about how fun (and sometimes super insane) the show was. I’ve learned so much, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity, even with the high highs and low lows.”