Wildcat's gleeful Show Choir puts on grand finale

Students Allison Kennedy, Sophie Marks and Ariel Walsh (front) practice their moves during a rehearsal for “Puttin’ on the Ritz.”  - Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times
Students Allison Kennedy, Sophie Marks and Ariel Walsh (front) practice their moves during a rehearsal for “Puttin’ on the Ritz.”
— image credit: Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times

Ever since its establishment this fall, the show choir at Oak Harbor High School has been something to talk about. What started out as an experimental class has turned into consistently sold out performances and a display of dedication and talent.

With the show choir’s final big performance of the school year coming up next weekend, the students reflected on all they’ve learned, what the program has meant to them and the choir’s overwhelming popularity.

Senior Jasmine Reyes said being a part of show choir has taught her about confidence. Director Darren McCoy pushes the students to be animated and enthusiastic in their singing and dancing, and the students have stepped up to the plate.

Reyes said as she moves on next year, she’ll take away the ability to reach outside of her comfort zone.

Fellow senior Jhonas Burke agreed that he’s learned some life skills from the class.

“I’ve learned the importance of being punctual,” Burke said. “Get here on time or get locked out.”

The show choir meets during zero period at 6:45 a.m., so getting to rehearsals every day shows commitment.

In the last few weeks, the singers have been spending their mornings rehearsing for “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” which will premiere Friday, May 13. The show will feature numbers from “Foot Loose” and Michael’s Jackson’s “Thriller” among other pieces. According to the students, this show has been a lot more challenging because they’ve incorporated snippets of acting into the songs.

“I think we definitely need to learn how to do our faces,” senior Naomi Story said. “We can’t just sit in the back of the choir with our hands folded. We have to learn to show the emotions.”

“Puttin’ on the Ritz” will also highlight the community members and choreographers who have helped the show choir throughout the year, like K. Sandy O’Brien who taught the students a dance from her show “Chicago,” which ran at the Whidbey Playhouse in September.

“Students, parents, local thespians from The Whidbey Island Theatre for Youth and the Whidbey Playhouse, and teachers from varying schools have been working together to stage ‘Puttin’ on the Ritz,’” McCoy wrote in a performance announcement. “This project is designed to give students in show choir the opportunity to use their musical, theatrical, lighting, dancing and artistic skills. It will give them valuable insight into many aspects of showbiz such as actor preparation, costume and set design, lighting, singing and playing in an orchestra.”

McCoy also noted that the show may be difficult to catch. Though it’s still a week away, tickets are nearly sold out for seats in the high school’s spacious Student Union Building.

Senior Ryan Gerth said he’s been astounded at the choir’s popularity, as many concerts have sold out and have had audience members standing in the back.

“I think the first concert was the biggest surprise,” Gerth said. “It filled up in like 30 minutes.”

“My mom came 10 minutes late once and had to sit on the floor,” Story added.

McCoy said back in September that his vision for the class was to get students excited about singing and that he wanted the students to feel they were doing something worthwhile. He succeeded on both accounts.

“Everyone likes something new,” Jhonas said. “Plus, there’s that show ‘Glee’...”


Coming soon

The show choir’s final major performance of the school year is “Puttin’ on the Ritz” and will be held at Oak Harbor High School on Friday and Saturday, May 13 and 14. Tickets are $15 and include heavy appetizers such as a chocolate fountain, the performance and dancing after the concert. Contact for tickets.

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