Oh wouldn’t it be lovely

Published 12:35 pm Thursday, March 22, 2018

Making sure her students leave West Jessamine High School with impressive resumes, the drama department director Devon Collins said the spring musical, “My Fair Lady,” was picked not only because it is widely acclaimed as one of the greatest musicals of all time, but because her students can learn a lot from it.

“The roles are complex, the music is difficult and the dance combinations are long,” Collins said. “Our live student orchestra definitely makes this a unique experience. Very few high school students have experience with a live musical orchestra, so it’s one of my favorite parts about the musical production.”

Showings are scheduled for 7 p.m. March 22-24, with an additional performance at 2 p.m. March 24. Tickets are $7 for students, children and Jessamine County School employees, and $10 for adults. Children under 3-years-old are free.

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Collins said she takes the time to make the production as student-led and student-centered as possible.

“They have a lot of control over what the show looks like and how it functions,” Collins said. “Their creativity is seen just as much as mine and the passion for the product absolutely shines through.”

Many of the leads in the show are WJHS audience regulars.

Parker Tussey portrays Professor Higgins, while Amelia Fitch takes the stage as Eliza Doolittle. Ethan Snider will play Colonel Pickering and also splits his time as stage manager for the production. The production also features Kelsey Simpkins as Mrs. Pearce and Alex Brenner as Alfred P. Doolittle.

“We started practicing vocals in January with Brett Burton,” Collins said. “They come to me for creative direction and choreography for the month of February. In March, we add in our band students, tech students and backstage students. We generally practice four-to-five nights a week, sometimes having two practices occur at once and work on Saturdays. These kids are insanely devoted.”

Sean Piatt, director of bands for WJHS, worked with the orchestra for the production.

“I helped the orchestra in several rehearsals to prepare for full cast rehearsals before I passed the baton to Brett Burton, our choir director,” Piatt said. “I took over on the trumpet. I have played in other musicals in my time, but it is even more rewarding when you are playing with the organization that you direct.”

Collins said the audience will experience quality which far surpasses what is expected of high school theatre students.

“These kids have incredible talents, they are hard working and truly care about this department. It’s obvious from the moment the curtain opens how much this program means to us all.” 

Fitch said, in accepting the role of Eliza Doolittle, she knew she would have to put in a lot of effort. She soon realized she was not as prepared as she thought.

“I didn’t realize how much of a challenge it would be to play a character who changes her accent and really just the way she presents herself mid-show,” Fitch said. “I am so glad this is my final show here at WJHS. It is always a pleasure to work with my fellow thespians and our amazing director.

“I definitely hope to bring a little bit of Audrey Hepburn and Julie Andrews into the role, but I also hope to show a little bit of myself and my acting style, making her lively and energetic.”

James Tussey, who plays the part of Professor Higgins, said being involved with the theatre department at WJHS has brought him much joy over the years.

“The character of Professor Higgins has been one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences of my theatre career,” Tussey said. “The best part of Professor Higgins’ character is the way he is able to insult hilariously while maintaining his English gentleman composure.

“The cast and crew of the show are amazing and we hope that you come see the classic story of ‘My Fair Lady.’”