Houlton Middle-High School wows crowds with annual fall musical
HOULTON, Maine — Showcasing impressive vocal abilities and solid acting chops, young thespians dazzled at Houlton’s Community Arts Center over the weekend for three showings of Disney’s “Freaky Friday.”
An estimated 825 ticket holders watched one of three productions held over the weekend, to be entertained by students from Houlton Middle-High School and Greater Houlton Christian Academy.
“We had a terrific run this year,” play director Kevin Mania said. “We had over 275 for each show. The kids were always ready to work hard and really enjoyed the musical from Day One. The community had so many positive comments that we are truly humbled.”
Featuring an ensemble cast of more than 40 students, this year’s production is based on the 1972 book “Freaky Friday” by Mary Rodgers and the 2016 Disney Theatrical Productions stage adaptation by Bridget Carpenter.
Disney’s “Freaky Friday” tells the story of an overworked mother, Katherine Blake, and her teenage daughter, Ellie, who magically swap bodies when they touch a mysterious hourglass. The two must then find a way to change things back, while also getting into a number of adventures.
Lydia Byron and Kaitlyn Kenney took on the lead roles of Ellie Blake and Katherine Blake, respectively. The two young actors essentially had the opportunity to do two parts in one as the two “switch bodies.”
Byron, a senior, and Kenney, a junior, are veteran actors for RSU 29, having appeared in multiple school plays over the years. Both students dazzled with impressive vocal abilities on solos, while also showing their acting chops conveying teenage life and adulthood with style.
Young Presley Goodwin, a seventh-grader, nearly stole the show with her comedic performance as Fletcher Blake, the young sibling, who uses comedic puppeteering to deal with his grief of losing their father.
Mania said the production was truly a team effort, as aside from his directing duties he also served as the percussionist for the pit band.
“Our production team of Mike Hutchinson, Nicholas Foster and Jamie Sewell worked as a team to bring this musical to fruition,” Mania said. “Morgan Drake was behind the scenes making sure all of our kids were dressed to their part. She is a guru with making things come together for the musical to tell its story.”
He added that Amanda Howe and his wife Katie were also supportive, hosting the cast party and bake sale, respectively.
“The hardest part of putting a musical together like this is knowing that our seniors are performing their last production,” Mania said. “We have had our seniors all the way back to the middle school musicals they did with Mr. (Jason) Anderson. We are lucky to have such a long standing tradition in our school.”
As a tribute, the program was dedicated to Anderson, RSU 29’s former choral director who died last month after a battle with cancer.