Western students preparing for 'School House Rock Live!'

Cary Ashby • Mar 4, 2017 at 4:00 PM

COLLINS — Jasmine Edwards is a self-declared “naturally born sassy” girl.

So it’s fitting the 15-year-old sophomore plays Sassy in “School House Rock Live!,” being performed at Western Reserve on April 7 and 8.

But Edwards said she has more in common with Laurie, the female lead she played last year in “Oklahoma!” since she prefers being quiet and doesn’t have to be “out there so much.”

“Laurie is not a sassy-type person. She was a quiet person,” said the daughter of Frank and Miranda.

The main character in “School House Rock Live!” is Tom (played by freshman Calb Fuleki), who is about to teach his first day of school. His students are 8 years old. The 11 cast members portray different parts of Tom’s personality: Sassy, Protective, Relaxed, etc.

Fuleki said there’s some pressure playing the lead, but added: “I’m used to pressure from before.”

The son of Jacob and Jennifer Fuleki was the understudy for the role of the peddler in “Oklahoma!” last year. Three weeks before opening night, that actor dropped out of the cast. That meant Caleb Fuleki had to step in for him.

The 15-year-old freshman was familiar with some of the songs from the “School House Rock” cartoon shorts.

“Now that I’ve listened to them, I can’t get them out of my head,” Fuleki said.

This is Kimberly Harrison’s 15th year directing Western’s spring musical. She first directed “School House Rock Live!” at the school 13 years ago.

“We have a small cast this time. I did things differently than I did before. This year I had them audition for the songs. I had them audition for parts,” Harrison said.

That way she could give a song or role to another student based on attendance.

“It’s like having an automatic understudy,” Harrison said.

One of the new elements to this year’s musical is having five stage hands.

“This is the first year we’ve had a backstage crew helping build sets,” Harrison said.

But there are some constant presences, such as senior Nicole Shaw, who is the assistant director for the third year. The 17-year-old daughter of Melissa provides lines — when necessary — to the cast, starts the music on the pre-programmed Midi software and assists with staging.

“The cast is doing really well,” Shaw said. “They’re doing very good remembering their lines in the songs.”

Also, the senior said having a backstage crew working on the sets has helped the cast be further along than previous years. That has allowed Shaw and Harrison to focus on rehearsing with the actors and actresses.

“It’s helped a lot,” Shaw said.

Harrison, the director, said she believes rehearsals have been going well and she’s pleased with most of the cast members’ attendance.

“Doing this the way I’m doing it, it’s forced them to show up,” she said.

Sophomore Damien Dameron plays the relaxed part of Tom’s personality.

“I feel (my part is) important because Tom is freaked out and I show him he can be relaxed,” said the 15-year-old son of Justin and Shannon Dameron.

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