By Marisa Vick
Robert E. Lee High School
Check out Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology’s theatre department, where students donned their sailor hats and dancing shoes and put on a smash of a performance of the musical "On the Town" on April 21.
This musical was an extreme undertaking for a high school. When the show debuted on Broadway, it ran for 462 performances. It was revived on Broadway twice since then and was also made into a movie starring Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra. The story revolves around three sailors who come into port in New York City for only 24 hours. Their day goes haywire when they go on a search for local celebrity "Miss Turnstiles," and each of them meets a girl.
The lead talents in this show were amazing. Playing Gabey, Brad Wergley had commanding vocals in his solos. Opposite him, Kate Kirschner (as Miss Turnstiles, Ivy Smith) had vocals that tickled the ears, and much poise in her en pointe dancing. In one particular dancing number, The Presentation of The Great Lover, she and her partner, Kevin Deisz, did a wonderful piece with a beautiful over-head lift. Voices that soared included two other leads, Julieann Choi (Hildy Esterhazy) and Eileen Palmer (Claire De Loone). Palmer, along with Macs Smith (Ozzie), performed a dazzling duet, "Carried Away," where their voices melded perfectly.
The rest of the ensemble also had great energy, save for a few moments. Many great cameos presented themselves over the course of the show, including Man Hailing Cab (Ari Cukierman) who in his one line in the show presented a clear and very specific character. Also, Michaela Rothschild as two different lounge singers performed very short songs both entitled "I Wish I Were Dead," in which she pushed out a very strong and hilarious verse.
There were some technical aspects of the show that suffered. In Act II, the door of the subway fell while the set piece was being moved offstage, but the crew was able to fix it quickly. Sound did patch in and out, but that was nothing that the actors didn’t overcome. Lights were pretty, including twinkling stars in the night sky that no one could quite figure out how it was executed. The Thomas Jefferson High School student orchestra had quality sound, the kind of music you hear from professional musicians.
There was no way to deny that Jefferson wouldn’t let anything get in its way. The shortcomings of "On the Town" were overpowered by the enthusiasm and talent of the entire cast. So next time you’re going out on the town, look up Thomas Jefferson and see what treats they have in their upcoming theatre season.
(Cappies is a high school critics and awards program involving 50 schools in the Virginia, Maryland and D.C. areas.)