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Wilmington High School Produces First Student-Run Musical In Years

How one small group of teens is proving they’re ready for independence.

Lindsay Wigo

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It is typical to have well-rounded performers in any high school theater company. Many students enjoy learning the ropes of being a director or a producer from the adults they look up to. What about having to lead twelve student actors as a senior in high school—without any assistance from adults?

Wilmington, Delaware’s Salesianum School is known for having an extremely involved and active theater company, performing quite a few shows per school year for the past few decades. This year, Salesianum is making a big statement and a name for themselves by putting on First Date The Musical, the first completely student-run musical to hit their stage in years. 

Music director Jake Collins helps actors with choreography. From left, Tony Denney, Jake Collins, Sean Cline.

Positions like director, producer, sound crew, and stage manager are being lead by students.

Salesianum senior and director Brendan Moriak spearheaded this project since the idea came to fruition in April 2017. It began after he was approached by one of his directors about directing his own show.

“I was excited because we had been talking about it for a few weeks by that time,” Moriak said. “And now it was real life.”

After almost a full year of working with the production team and twelve student actors, Moriak and his music director, senior Jake Collins, are ready to present their year-long project to an audience.

“Our goal was to do a show that we could easily put on, not one that challenges the audience,” Collins said. “Because this was a challenge for ourselves.”

Three actors rehearsing a musical number. From left, Jack Krukiel, Sean Cline, Braedon Carney. Photo credit Lindsay Wigo.

The musical follows the quirky lives of the two main characters, Aaron and Casey, before, during and after their first date.

“I think something interesting about this being student-produced is that a lot of us don’t have experience with first dates,” Jack Krukiel said. “It’s usually just relationships over your phone or through texting. When there is that first date, you have no idea what the person is actually like.”

“We have a bunch of different couples [on stage] with all different stories,” Tony Denney said. “We really have something for everybody.”

Besides directing and music directing, students have also tackled the responsibilities of marketing and producing a show. Senior producer Brice Malusa explained how some duties have included creating graphics, posters, online ticket sales, advertisements, and even formatting the playbill.

The actors agreed that the close-knit, friendly cast of twelve has only made the experience more comfortable. “I’m a freshman and in [previous shows] with bigger casts, I’ve felt looked down upon,” Cat Enslen said. “But here it’s a smaller cast and everyone really respects each other.”

Actor Braedon Carney and director Brendan Moriak talk about the blocking of a scene. Photo credit Lindsay Wigo.

Braedon Carney recalled how the staff and actors are close friends both inside and outside of school. “While [the staff] obviously takes the lead, we’re all more willing to collaborate with them because they aren’t yelling at us with their vision.”

When it comes to what they hope the audience takes away from the show, the cast of First Date has a few different answers.

Audrey Embley hopes the audience simply laughs and has a good time. “If they want to take something away from it, it’s to give people second chances.”

“It’s a musical comedy so it’s supposed to be fun and enjoyable,” Frankie Frabizzio said. “So our main goal is just to have people enjoy themselves.”

Lead actor Frankie Frabizzio at the end of a musical number. Photo credit Lindsay Wigo.

“It’s going to be cool to prove to people that students can do this and that we don’t need an adult to get the show going,” Rose Langrehr added. “We’re fully capable of doing this on our own.”

Be sure to catch Salesianum’s first student-run musical in years, First Date The Musical, playing May 11 at 8 PM, May 12 at 8 PM and May 13 at 2 PM.

Purchase First Date The Musical tickets HERE or at the door.

Are you looking for digital journalism training and experience? Are you a journalism major who wants to take your career to the next level? CMN’s Digital Journalism course gives you real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to journalism influencers and mentors, and a great place to display your work. You can get academic credit too. Check out the Digital Journalism Course here.

Lindsay is a journalism student and is excited to be working with College Media Network as a writer/reporter. She hopes to work in the journalism field in the future as a features and profiles writer. For more of her work, visit her website: www.lindsaywigo.com

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