Musical director John Hopkins works with cast members on one of the songs during a rehearsal March 7 at Berkley High School.

Musical director John Hopkins works with cast members on one of the songs during a rehearsal March 7 at Berkley High School.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Berkley High School takes on musical ‘Disaster!’

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published March 12, 2019

 Berkley senior and stage manager of the school’s upcoming production of “Disaster!” Nora Rhein makes some notes during a March 7 rehearsal. According to musical director John Hopkins, Rhein knows the show better than anyone and is the production’s engine.

Berkley senior and stage manager of the school’s upcoming production of “Disaster!” Nora Rhein makes some notes during a March 7 rehearsal. According to musical director John Hopkins, Rhein knows the show better than anyone and is the production’s engine.

Photos by Patricia O’Blenes

 Student director Jack Welcher leads the cast through the line dance number during a rehearsal of “Disaster!”

Student director Jack Welcher leads the cast through the line dance number during a rehearsal of “Disaster!”

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Advertisement

BERKLEY — Berkley High School’s upcoming spring musical is shaping up to be a real disaster.

Hitting the stage this month is the school’s production of the musical “Disaster!” in which the plot follows a floating casino and nightclub that’s hit with multiple disasters on its opening night. The musical is an homage to the disaster films of the 1970s. 

The production will hit the stage at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 22-23, and 3 p.m. Sunday, March 24, at the high school’s auditorium, 2325 Catalpa Drive.

District Drama Coordinator and Musical Director John Hopkins said the cast has been very strong, attributing it to the students deciding to step it up this year.

“They have gotten a lot more competitive with each other, so auditions this year were really pretty surprising, because people in the past who’ve taken a back seat have really chosen to shine,” he said. “It made it a lot more difficult to cast it, but it’s a really strong cast.”

Because of the multiple snow days that canceled school, Hopkins said they have been playing catch-up to get everything ready for opening night. 

That being said, Hopkins said the cast is pumped to put on the musical.

“We have a lot to do, but it’s such a fantastic show and the kids are incredibly excited about it,” he said. Last year’s musical was such a big win for them when I was out (after a heart attack) that when I chose this year’s show, I knew it had to be something that everybody would just buy into immediately. And they have.”

While many of the students are working on their musical numbers or dance numbers, senior Nora Rhein is focused on her job as stage manager for “Disaster!”

The 17-year-old Huntington Woods student is working her fourth musical at the school as stage manager. Rhein’s job is to manage the communications of the production to the crew and cast, such as calling out lighting and sound cues for when they need to occur onstage.

Hopkins called the position of stage manager the most difficult position, besides director, for a show.

Rhein said her biggest responsibility is having to solve problems quickly when they happen.

“When there’s a problem during a show, you can’t take 15 minutes to try and see what we can do,” she said. “It’s usually about a matter of 15 seconds of, ‘OK, this needs to happen now or else the audience is going to know something’s up.’ The thing I always say is, ‘My job is done right when no one knows that it’s done at all.’”

Before getting into stage managing, Rhein worked backstage in the building, constructing and painting of sets. She credits Hopkins for setting her on the path of stage managing the high school’s shows.

“I didn’t really know anything about backstage theater before I came here,” she said. “Then I came here and he was very warm and welcoming and really pushed me towards the right direction where I’d be backstage.”

Rhein said she’s very confident the musical will come out great.

“That’s usually not the way I feel a few weeks before a show. Usually, I’m a little panicked, but I’m pretty sure that this show will work out well,” she said.

Tickets for “Disaster!” can be bought online for $5 for students and seniors and $10 for adults at www.our.show/bedrama/disaster. They also can be bought at the door for $10 for students and seniors and $15 for adults.

Advertisement