Frenship HS students create sets for ‘White Christmas’

It might be a little early to be dreaming of a “White Christmas,” but students at Frenship High School have been preparing all semester for the musical.

And it’s not just students who are in theater or choir who are preparing, but art students, band members, prop designers in technical theater classes and ag students.

Drew Weesner, a theater teacher and director of this semester’s musical, said this is the first time that the entire arts department has worked together to create a musical.

Because the production has an open casting call, the cast could consist of students who aren’t in music or theater classes.

“It’s open to the whole school,” Weesner said.

But the students creating a train for use in a 10-minute scene include welders from the agriculture department and students in the theater tech classes who will figure out how to move the set piece as well as artists who will so focus on its facade.

About 300 students from throughout FHS will “have somehow had their hand in the show in some way or another,” Weesner said.

Kelli Carpenter, a junior in one of Weesner’s technical theater classes, said she took the class to fulfill an art requirement, and although she might not have taken the class without the requirement, she’s glad to be involved.

Carpenter said she enjoys using saws and drills and math skills to build stage props.

“Getting to build and learn is pretty fun,” she said. Because she’s still trying to find a career path, she said she has taken many different classes in hopes of finding direction, including interior decorating, computer classes and yearbook.

She never would have tried out to perform on stage, she said, but she’s enjoying the work behind the scenes.

“I feel like it’d help on a college application,” Carpenter said.

Shannon Damron, an art teacher, is supervising beginning art students in creating stage props.

“Art is not just painting,” she said. “It’s also using your talent to create something that’s not necessarily going to hang on the wall.”

Damron said working on the musical helps students to see that there are jobs in art besides painting on canvases.

“I think it’s really good for them. They get to see how to work collaboratively,” Damron said.

Another benefit is it sparks an interest in watching the musical, she said. Several students have asked if they will get free tickets to the show, and although that won’t happen, she hopes they’ll go anyway.

“They feel like they’re part of something bigger,” Damron said.

Will Edwards, an agriculture instructor at FHS, said it was not difficult to weld frames for a train scene in “White Christmas.”

“My kids had a good time building it,” he said. “We all understand that our budgets are so tight, you just scrape and borrow from everybody.”

Like Damron, Edwards said he hopes his students’ involvement makes them curious enough to check out the musical.

“I’m hoping that draws an interest from my kids to want to go see it, to see what they built,” he said.

For the first time at Frenship, band members will accompany the musical.

Band director Tom SoRelle said because the school does not have an orchestra, strings musicians will be hired to play those parts. But the winds and percussion will be played by FHS student musicians.

“It used to be that it was hard to do with live musicians,” he said. “You can only play a trumpet so soft.”

But he said technological advances in wireless microphones have made it easier to hear the actors above the volume of the music.

“The band kids are very excited to get to do this,” SoRelle said.

Want to go?

  • What: The FHS fine arts department musical production of “White Christmas.”
  • When: Dec. 7-8.
  • Where: The Frenship Performing Arts Center.
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