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Murray Journal

Murray High theatre department announces season lineup

Oct 01, 2018 02:45PM ● By Jana Klopsch

Murray High’s drama club is lead by (front row, L-R): Lexi Watne, Arianne Chamberlain; (second row) Sydney Bagley, Kalli Degen, Ashley Bates, Emmy Eborn; and (third row) Dylan Short, Matthew Watson, Olivia Jacobs, Nick McEuen. (Will Saxton/Murray High)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

When Murray High School announced its theatre show schedule, there were some firsts amongst it — the first time students selected their fall musical and the first year they will perform a juke box musical, taking place of the traditional Broadway Music Revue. 

The season, however, will start out with Murray High Theatre III students performing an ensemble scene from William Shakespeare’s “Comedy of Errors” at the annual Shakespeare competition, hosted by the Utah Shakespeare Festival and Southern Utah University, Sept. 27 through Sept. 29 in Cedar City. About 15 students were to compete, and a showcase was to be held at the school prior to the competition, director Will Saxton said.

At the same time as the Shakespeare rehearsals were practices for the fall musical, “Annie,” which was selected by students. 

“We let the students choose from ‘Annie’ and ‘My Fair Lady,’ and they overwhelmingly selected ‘Annie,’” he said. “It’s a good musical for our students and our community and it allows them to have a buy-in to the decision and have ownership of it. It really plays up to our strengths and it includes our Dance Company’s talents.”

Saxton cast the show in late spring so students were familiar with the script when rehearsals began Aug. 21. 

“It allows for our students to register and enroll in the musical production class,” he said, adding that a few younger students, mostly siblings, will also be in the fall show.

The show will be at 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 8 through Saturday, Nov. 10 and again, on Monday, Nov. 12 on the high school stage, 5440 S. State St., in Murray. Tickets are $8 for non-students and $7 for students in advance or $9 at the door. Tickets are available through cast members as well as on the Murray High website,

In addition to Saxton, the directing team includes Alan Scott as musical director, Leesa Lloyd with choreography; and Jordan Beckstrand as orchestra director. 

The character of Annie will be played by junior Kali Degen. Senior Ashley Bates will be Miss Hannigan; senior Nick McEuen will play Daddy Warbucks; and senior Emmy Eborn is Grace Farrell.

In January, the musical theatre productions class students will introduce a new tradition at the school, performing its first-ever juke box musical based on pop songs and creating their own story around it. 

The show, entitled “Juke Box Musical Dinner Theatre Year 1 Journey,” will be performed for three nights beginning at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. The cost for the show is $5, with the optional dinner, an additional fee.

“We decided to try something different and brainstormed and came up with that,” Saxton said. “I always have liked the band, ‘Journey,’ growing up and it’s popular again with the kids so they’re pretty excited about starting this new tradition.”

In March, students will take on British dialects in the play, “Blithe Spirit.” The play centers on a man, who invited a medium to conduct a seance at his home, hoping to gather material for his next book. However, instead, he is haunted by the ghost of his first departed wife, which disrupts his marriage to his second wife, who can’t see or hear the ghost.

“It’s hilarious and the plot is kind of crazy, but it is one of my favorite plays,” Saxton said about the three-act family-friendly play that typically lasts two-and-one-half hours. 

The show will be at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 7 through Saturday, March 9, 2019 in the school’s Little Theatre. Tickets are $6 for students and $7 for non-students in advance or $8 at the door.

Murray High Theatre III also will perform a one-act play in their regional competition Wednesday, March 13, 2019 that they will be hosting, as well as in individual events, the following Wednesday at East High. State contest is in April.

The first three nights in May, students who are in “Blithe Spirit” will return to perform “Merchant of Venice” in their Little Theatre. Tickets are $5 at the door.

Sprinkled in throughout the year — October, December, January, February, April and May — the improvisation team will have shows as well as host its 7th annual improv festival, which attracts up to 10 area schools, on Thursday, April 25, 2019.

Their season ends with student-directed one-act plays in May.

“Our season has a lot of variety. After doing all musicals last year, we wanted to mix it up and perform some straight plays as well as musical. Each show has its own theme to communicate to the audience, but an overall theme may be to choose people in your life who will treat you the way you want to be treated,” Saxton said. “When we look at ‘Annie,’ there is a lot of optimism in the show and no matter how much money or worldly possessions you have, if you don’t have someone to share it with, you’ll be miserable. With ‘Blithe Spirit,’ we learn that he hasn’t been a good husband in either marriage so he learns how to become a better person. In ‘Merchant of Venice,’ we learn how to show mercy and treat each other with kindness. They’re all good lessons and messages to convey to our students and our community.”