Roaring Fork High School stages first musical in 10 years
If You Go...
Who: Roaring Fork High School
When: 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday
Where: Roaring Fork High School auditorium
How Much: $10 for adults, $8 students, $15 VIP. Can be purchased at the door or in advance at Dos Gringos
Roaring Fork High School is putting on its first musical in a decade, but getting “Flapper” audience-ready was no easy task.
“We started the process in January knowing that it was going to be hard to get things going, being so fresh and so new,” said director Shanti Gruber. “It’s been four long months of putting together the first show in a long time.”
“Flapper” is a madcap comedy set in the Roaring ’20s with fun, upbeat music, dancing and comedic characters. It tells the story of Polly Pepper, a young flapper who is about to turn 18 and inherit a beautiful, expensive diamond necklace. Pepper has to fend off mobsters trying to steal the necklace and con artists trying to rip off her aunt, and hilarity ensues all along the way.
Gruber said she chose “Flapper” because it’s accessible; it’s only 90 minutes long, giving her more time to perfect it with her cast and crew. One of the biggest challenges Gruber faced in getting the production together was finding students who were willing and able to commit to the grueling process of pulling off a musical.
“Being a small school, we share the kids with everything — after-school sports, AP classes,” she said. “I actually only have six Roaring Fork High School students. The rest of the cast is from a different school. So that was my biggest struggle was getting students to actually dedicate themselves to putting on a production. They just didn’t know how much it takes.”
Cast member Cal Branigan, a 14-year-old freshman at Roaring Fork High School who plays the Duke of Milford in “Flapper,” agreed that students dropping out was a huge challenge to overcome, but he’s thrilled with the cast members who stuck it out and made the comeback musical possible.
“I’m definitely thankful for the crew that we got together, finally, that we know is going to be here for the actual show,” he said. “I’m glad that this small group has stayed for the whole process.”
Ellie Tomasso, a 17-year-old senior at Glenwood Springs High School who plays Mrs. Granville, said she’s impressed and thankful for the work Gruber put into this musical.
“Shanti Gruber has done a terrific job at trying to get this going,” Tomasso said. “She started the choir program here at Roaring Fork, and she’s also been my choir teacher for four years. It’s been interesting, and it’s very fun to be a part of the first show here in a while.”
Gruber started the choral program at Roaring Fork High School three years ago because the school didn’t have choir for about as long as it hadn’t had a musical.
“They said, ‘This is a need. There’s a lot of interest in that piece,’ and they brought me on,” said Gruber, who also runs the choir program at Glenwood Springs High School. “Every single year, I do musicals at Glenwood High School, and there are musicals throughout all the other high schools except for here. So my kids in choir just kept bugging me, saying, ‘Oh my gosh, when are we going to do a musical? When, when when?’”
This year, Gruber and the administration at Roaring Fork decided to give it a shot. And while Gruber is happy with the results, she said she would hesitate to produce a musical next year, only because the interest and level of dedication needed don’t seem to be present in the Roaring Fork High School student body.
“It’s definitely up in the air,” she said of a possible musical next year. “I think if I saw more interest in the student body here, I would say absolutely. But if I’m going to have to pull from other schools, I don’t think it’s really something that I’d be interested in doing, when it’s supposed to be this school’s production.”
Getting “Flapper” to opening night wasn’t easy for anyone involved, but for those who lasted through the process, the struggle was worth it to produce a fun, upbeat audience pleaser.
“They will love our live band — we have professionals playing in the band, and that is going to be awesome to have the live music,” Gruber said. “We also have lots of sparkles and lots of great singing. And it’s a comedy, so hopefully there’s a lot of laughter.”
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