EPHS Music Man opens to rave reviews

Eagle Point High School has more talent in its little cafeteria than many others do in their whole performing arts centers— an observation that at once inspires pride and pity.

To help celebrate the city of Eagle Point’s centennial anniversary, Julia Cuppy and the EPHS thespian troupe is showing their production of Meredith Willson’s The Music Man, which takes place approximately one century ago in a small Iowa town. Opening night was on Veterans Day, and subsequent performances were given on Saturday the 12th, with a matinee at 2 pm and an evening show at 7 pm. Upcoming shows are scheduled for Friday Nov. 18th and Saturday the 19th at 7 pm, with another matinee on that Saturday also at 2 pm. Ticket prices are General $12. Seniors $10, Students $5 and all veterans are admitted free to any showing.

Special prices of $8 on Nov. 18 for all Rogue Federal Credit Union members and employees and on Nov. 19 for District #9 employees. Tickets are available at Butte Creek Mill.

As an added bonus, the Jackson County Historical Society donated a full exhibit of photographs and artifacts of early twentieth century life, appropriately titled “A Day in the Life,” which can be viewed 30 minutes prior to showtime.

Mayor Bob Russell was in attendance on opening night. At the intermission he used spirited words to describe his admiration of the student actors. He called them “fantastic,” and said the casting of Michael Bradley-Smith in the role of Harold Hill was “spot on.” Mayor Russell compared Bradley-Smith to Robert Preston, (who played the lead character in the 1962 film of the same title), and went on to praise the beautiful singing voice of Melissa Glenn.

Indeed, anyone who has not heard Glenn sing is missing something remarkable. Her talent easily outshines that of most people her age, which becomes even more impressive upon learning that she has had only a minimal amount of formal music training. Producing Artistic Director, Julia Cuppy, spoke of Glenn’s natural ability with music, saying “she has the ear.” Cuppy also had good things to say about Bradley-Smith’s performance, citing her past experience with him and the difficulty of playing Harold Hill.

“I knew that Michael was the one to do it,” Cuppy said. As the stars of the show, Glenn (who played Marian Paroo) and Bradley-Smith were far too busy accepting compliments and roses to be approached for comments afterward. Suffice it to say that Bradley-Smith reported “feel[ing] pretty great.”

Nick Madtson and Jacqueline Boyd were also fun to watch in their romance on stage as Tommy Djilas and Zaneeta Shinn respectively. But the crowd favorite for the evening had to be ten-year-old Jonathen Gagnon, cast as little Winthrop Paroo. In his first play ever, Gagnon was the most enthusiastic of all the younger actors, and drew especially strong applause when he sang “Gary, Indiana.” Cuppy said, “he was perfect.”

The only dark spot of the opening play was due to technical difficulties. The lights abruptly shut off at one point, leaving two actors blacked out during a key moment of dialogue. Cuppy attributes the difficulty the thespian troupe’s “antiquated lighting system.” This sort of thing is what inspires the aforementioned pity.

As the only theater teacher in Jackson County School District No. 9, Julia Cuppy discussed the fact that EPHS is the only high school in the Rogue Valley that does not have a dedicated performing arts center. The question is: When a cast of 43 works between 4 to 8 hours per day for 8 weeks, and draws a crowd of more than 150 community members, why then are these great kids playing to an audience who sits on plastic chairs on the tile floor of the school cafeteria?

“It’s not like the desire, need and talent aren’t here,” Cuppy said. “You pack this house, and the only place you can see is [in] the front row.”

What does it take to get better facilities for Eagle Point performing arts? Mayor Russell answered, “all it takes is a community.”

Please support Eagle Point theater by keeping an eye out for their upcoming events, including the dance concert in January and the production of Almost, Maine later in the Spring.
By Michael Stephens
For the Independent

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