‘High energy’ show

Marshall High School to perform ‘Schoolhouse Rock Live!’

Photo by Cindy Votruba Members of the cast of “Schoolhouse Rock Live!” rehearse one of the 21 songs to be performed during the course of the show.

MARSHALL — Childhood memories of Saturday morning cartoons will come to life on stage this weekend at Marshall High School.

The Marshall High School Tiger Theatre is presenting “Schoolhouse Rock Live!” at 7:30 p.m. today, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Schwan Community Center for the Performing Arts at MHS. The show is being directed by MHS teacher Dan Smith.

It had been four years since the high school had done a musical that featured rock music and a band rather than traditional Broadway music with an orchestra, Smith said, so he and those involved with the musicals knew they wanted to go in this direction.

“We also wanted to do a show that would allow us to include a big cast so that we could get as many students on stage as possible,” Smith said. More than 40 students are involved in the production in the cast, orchestra and crew, he said. “Once we started considering shows through that lens, ‘Schoolhouse Rock Live!’ arose to the top of our list pretty quickly.”

Smith said the cast also loves the opportunity the show gives them to perform for elementary and middle school students in town.

“Schoolhouse Rock Live!” is high energy from the very beginning and never quits, Smith said.

“There is very little dialogue between the 21 songs, and each song has its own unique and funny story while it teaches an educational lesson,” Smith said. “One of the things we’ve learned as we’ve worked with the songs is that the writers of ‘Schoolhouse Rock’ worked with a clear formula. Every song is introduced with a funny ‘shtick’ component that sets up the educational lesson of the song. Then, the lesson is taught directly before returning to the funny component to reinforce the lesson and frame the song.”

“You won’t want it to be over,” said Johanna Christensen, one of the cast members.

“Schoolhouse Rock Live!” is more of an ensemble show than they’ve ever done, said Christensen. Everyone has solos and lines in the show, she added.

“No one is the star,” she said.

Even though “Schoolhouse Rock” was on television before the students were born, Smith said it’s been fun to see that they know most of the songs.

“Everyone knows the big ones such as ‘Conjunction Junction’ and ‘I’m Just a Bill,’ but all of the songs are so engaging and catchy that students (and directors) have spent all fall singing them. Students love the upbeat nature of the show and have enjoyed contributing creative ideas to the staging and choreography.” It is an exhausting show for them to perform, Smith said, and the students are wiped out after each run of the show.

The cast is fantastic, close-knit and hard-working, Smith said.

“It has been a challenging show to get on its feet, but students have enjoyed the material and each other so much that the hard work has often not seemed like work,” he said. “They were at school for 12+ hours of teach rehearsal last weekend, and I didn’t hear a single complaint.”

The show requires so much energy, said Meredith Bock, one of the actors in the show.

“You have to be engaged and focused, you’ve got to give it your all,” Bock said.

MHS student Nick Dunn said the show gives a lot of opportunities for those who don’t get bigger parts to “show what they can do.”

The central goal for the production is to create the atmosphere of Saturday morning cartoons when we were kids, Smith said.

“The cast is wearing pajama pants on stage, and we’ll even be selling bowls of cereal in the lobby before the show,” he said.

The set and the costumes make “Schoolhouse Rock Live!” an interactive show for the audience — to get them involved and singing along with the cast, said cast member Erin Holmberg.

MHS student Allie Lamote said performing “Schoolhouse Rock Live” is a good way to end her senior year because it’s a lot of fun and it’s something she’ll always remember.

“Schoolhouse Rock Live!” is not just a show for kids, said Smith and the actors.

“It’s for kids and for those (who want) to look back,” said Juan Salazar, who plays Tom in the show.

“Adults will have a blast with it as well, and we suspect that many adults of a certain age will remember the songs from their childhood,” Smith said.

Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for students and are available at the door. Saturday’s matinee is a family special — children will receive free admission wiht the purchase of an adult ticket.