First Flight High School’s spring musical is sure to be ‘fetch!’ Mean Girls hits the stage next week

Published 11:02 am Thursday, March 7, 2024

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What happens when a naive newbie meets a trio of oh-so-fetch high school mean girls? Well, let’s just say chaos ensues, and a lot of pink is involved. For the First Flight High School (FFHS) theatre program, they’re getting to know the ins and outs of navigating social standing and the importance of companionship first-hand as they embark on this year’s spring musical: Mean Girls.

To say the directors, cast and crew are excited for their spring show would be an utter understatement. This iconic musical comedy is based off the 2004 original movie, which quickly became a blockbuster hit among watchers of all generations. With 43 scenes and over 20 musical numbers, this project is a massive undertaking for FFHS’s theatre program, known as StageKraft Productions. Students have already dedicated countless hours to their biggest show yet, and are thrilled to invite the public out to attend this ingeniously witty musical on March 14, 15 and 16.

FFHS teachers Monica Penn and Lauren Deal have been involved in the school’s theatre productions for years, but none to quite this caliber before. Both directors have been amazed at the sheer talent involved in this year’s show and are anticipating a high volume of community turnout. “The book is 130 pages … and it is stacked with musical entertainment,” Penn shared with The Coastland Times. “This story is especially appealing to this age group. It is tremendously difficult in this day and age to be a teenager because of where technology has gone, social standards and people feeling like they have to live up to something … I think it can help parents connect these difficulties with their children.”

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This is Penn’s 18th year at First Flight. Along with teaching Theatre 1-3 and Technical Theatre 1-3, she has found a passion for directing students after school through these seasonal shows. “Everyone that we work with here wants to be here … they give so much to this school, and lift each other up, which is the culture we try to promote.” Penn felt this musical in particular plays into that culture of kindness: “I think it’s just a good story of teaching people that moral lesson of being kind and to treat people the way you want to be treated at the end of the day.”

StageKraft Productions is almost fully student-run. From set building to choreography to costumes, every aspect of their shows has a high-level of student involvement, which helps make it, truly, their own. This year is special; not only are the high school students immersed in the production process, but eighth-graders have been invited to participate in this year’s musical. With the absence of the middle school’s show director John Buford, who has taken time off to defeat acute myeloid leukemia, the eighth-grade class was left without a spring show. FFHS stepped in and welcomed their eighth graders to try out and be a part of Mean Girls, which Deal said has been a “life saver.”

This is Deal’s 11th year directing, and never before have the middle school and high school come together for the spring musical. “We didn’t want them to miss out,” the artistic director explained. “We’ve had to double and triple cast a lot of them and they’ve all been fantastic.” She has been enamored watching students of all ages and backgrounds come together to create such a dynamic show. Deal shared that the cast and crew is comprised of students who are extremely diversified in likes, interests, talents and school social standings. However, the theme that streams throughout all members of the program is individual importance and community collaboration. Part of the reason Deal has continued to work within the theatre program is because she enjoys seeing how students grow and the bonds that are formed on and off stage.

The show’s protagonist, Cady Heron, is the new girl at school. She finds herself discovering what it really means to “fit in” and how accepting people for who they are is something worth celebrating. FFHS senior Grace Rusk, who will play Cady in the musical, knows what it’s like to be a newbie. She transferred to FFHS as a junior and immediately joined their theatre program because she knew that would be a “safe haven” for newcomers. “Everybody can come to theatre and feel welcome,” Rusk said. “I know it’s always going to be safe to come in and speak to people and immediately have friends.”

FFHS senior Annie Heath is choreographing several scenes for the show. This is her first year being involved with StageKraft Productions, and after a few short weeks she has already been embraced. “This was a good way for me to combine both my dance background and choreography and help out,” she said. Heath then turned to Rusk and added, “And I’ve already made some really great friends.”

For those looking to enjoy a night out with engaging entertainment, gorgeous musical numbers, incredible vocal slides and insane talent, as Penn puts it, you won’t want to miss this show.

Performances will be held at FFHS’s David E. Oaksmith Auditorium on March 14 and 15 at 7 p.m. and March 16 at 2 p.m. Tickets will be available at the box office an hour before show times and are $8 for children under 18 and seniors and $10 for adults. As one cast member put it, “Make sure you get a good seat!” And, of course, bring a friend or two.