Two South Jordan schools to host musicals same March weekendFeb 23, 2022 06:35PM ● By Julie Slama
Brothers Will and John Evershed will perform in their school musicals, “The Music Man” at Elk Ridge Middle School and “Catch Me if You Can” at Bingham High School on the same weekend in March. (Photo courtesy of Emily Evershed)
By Julie Slama | [email protected]
Several sets of siblings will take the stages in Bingham High’s and Elk Ridge Middle’s musicals on the same weekend in March.
Amongst those siblings are the Evershed brothers.
Bingham High senior John Evershed will perform the role of Roger Strong, the father of Brenda who wants to marry a con man in the show, “Catch Me if You Can.” Bingham High’s musical, under the direction of Jason Purdie, will be at 7 p.m. on March 10, 11, 12 and 14, with a 2:30 p.m. matinee on Saturday, March 12. All shows will be in the school’s newly refurbished auditorium at 2160 South Jordan Parkway.
General admission tickets cost $5 for children and students and $10 for adults; they are available at https://binghamathletics.com/event-tickets.
Ninth-grader Will Evershed will appear as the lead character Harold Hill in “The Music Man” at Elk Ridge Middle School, 3659 West 9800 South. The show will be at 7 p.m., March 9-12, with a 1 p.m. matinee on Saturday, March 12.
Tickets are $5 and are available on the school website: elkridge.jordandistrict.org/school-musical/.
Elk Ridge Middle musicals are well known in the community, often selling out performances. New to directing the annual musical this year is theatre teacher Jacqueline Vuki, who selected the show not only because it could accommodate the 115-120 cast and crew members, but also because of the story.
“I love that this musical has a hometown feel,” she said. “I like that we get to create a sense of community through the characters and that we get to create that within our cast.”
Two-hour rehearsals began in December after late November auditions. Now as the show nears, students have added practicing on Saturdays.
Will, who was in the school’s musicals the two previous years as part of the ensemble, said he was ready for auditions after taking voice lessons as well as a ballroom dance class at school.
“I wanted to be Harold Hill, but really, I just wanted to be in the show,” he said. “Harold Hill is a fun role. I’ve learned to do more expressive motions, to have more energy when I’m speaking and to speak with more inflection.”
In the musical, traveling salesman and con man Harold Hill poses as a boys’ band organizer to sell instruments and uniforms to naive Midwestern townsfolk, promising to also train the new band members. However, Hill is not a musician and plans to skip town, but his heart first embraces a young boy who is overcoming a lisp before falling in love with his older sister, the town librarian who caught onto Hill’s scheme.
Will understands the demands of being the lead character.
“It’s very demanding. I get a lot of different songs and scenes,” he said, adding that outside of rehearsal, he practices lines with his parents. “It’s been a long process. Not just remembering the words, but also remembering what I’m doing in addition to the words. All the partner dance numbers like “Shipoopi” and the library scene, I find a lot of joy.”
Will appreciates the entire cast and crew who have spent hours preparing for the show.
“There’s a whole lot of effort that goes into the show behind the scenes. like the directors and the stage tech and all the planning for it. People come and see those on the stage, but they don’t see all the people moving to put on the show – people changing the lights, the sound crew, those who create the costumes. It takes a lot of people and I’m so grateful for all those who put in that extra effort,” he said.
Vuki also acknowledged the stage crew in gaining new skills in lighting, sound and set building: “Our students are leading the design process; they are working hard and coming up with lots of great ideas.”
Joining Vuki are music director and costumer Keith Goodrich and choreographer Alicia Giove.
In Bingham’s musical, Will’s older brother, John, plays the dad of the love interest of Frank Abignale, Jr., who is chasing his dreams and trying not to get caught while living the high life posing as a pilot, a doctor and a lawyer. When Frank’s lies catch the eye of the FBI, an agent pursues Frank across the country to make him pay for his crimes. The show is based on a true story, the plot of the musical largely borrowed from the movie with the same title.
John is one of about 100 students in the cast who have been rehearsing since early December. Joining Purdie is choreographer Melissa Higley, music director Andrea Chapman and 15 tech crew students.
Purdie said he selected the show for the storyline and music in addition to being able to have a large cast.
“The music is very upbeat and fun, and I knew that my students would enjoy learning the music and choreography,” he said. “I have a very energetic and positive group of students and I knew that they would fit the show perfectly.”
John said that he is enjoying the show, including learning his part with an accent.
“I love the era it is set in with the music and choreography; it’s very well done,” he said. “I’m learning a Southern accent and my director and music teacher give me tips on how to develop it, but the hardest part is when I sing a song in the Southern accent. So, I’ll be singing with a Southern accent, while dancing, in harmony. It’s a challenge, but fun.”
John said he first developed his interpretation of the character before watching the movie.
“When I go and look at how other people interpreted the character, I can use some of their ideas in my acting if I think the things will work well. In the movie, Roger is a more relaxed character and that’s not what I was interpreting. I see him as more intense, so I like that tense interrogation. But I like the super long pause in the dialogue in the movie, which makes Frank uncomfortable, so I think I’m going to use that. Comedy is all about timing so I think it can be really funny,” he said.
John took his first theater class at Elk Ridge as a seventh-grader and performed as the rabbi in “Fiddler on the Roof.” Since then, he’s been in Bingham’s “Children of Eden” and “Our Place” (the 2020 one-act was to be performed, but they weren’t able to compete at region when the school shut down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic). He also has been on the school improv team the past two years.
“It’s an opportunity I have to make people laugh and that’s the greatest joy in my life, to help make people forget their worries and just make them smile. Knowing that I can do that just brings so much satisfaction and joy,” John said, who adds that he has renewed a lot of friendships with theater friends through this performance.
Will, too, said he has made a lot of friends in theater.
“I’ve made so many friends and being on stage with them has brought me a lot of joy,” he said. “It’s also given me a lot of confidence. I’m just excited to perform.”