First musical in Midlothian Heritage High School auditorium a big deal, er fish

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large group of people on a stage
Photos courtesy of Midlothian ISD

When the curtain goes up on the production of “Big Fish” on Jan. 25, it will be a history-making moment as the first musical production in the new Midlothian Heritage High School Auditorium.

After two years of anticipation, the auditorium finally had a soft opening in the spring of 2023 and fully opened for use in August.

“We’ve been working hard getting it set up to meet our needs for this upcoming production!” said an excited Director, Amy Brown. “As with any venue, there are a lot of bugs to work out, especially in a new space.

“We’re very excited to use the top-of-the-line technology and welcome up to 850 people each performance in our very comfortable seats.”

“Big Fish” performances are Thursday, Jan. 25, Friday, Jan. 26, at 7 p.m., and Saturday, Jan. 27, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are available at heritagehstheatre.com.

Tickets are now reserved seating (instead of general admission as for past musicals), so Brown advises, “Get your tickets early for the best seats!”

Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students/seniors.

Brown explained why “Big Fish” was chosen for the first production in the new venue.

“When selecting the musical each year, we take into consideration the skills and abilities of students who have participated in the musical in the past, the interests of the students, the tastes of the community, and most importantly, look for a musical that speaks to our hearts,” Brown said. “‘Big Fish’ is an exciting and challenging new musical with big, colorful, energetic dance numbers, but at its core is a very poignant story about family and how to live life to the fullest.”

Massive production Features Over 125 Students

The production will feature over 125 students. This includes 27 students plus faculty in the live orchestra directed by Rich Bahner, ten students performing as backstage tech, 27 community elementary and middle school students in the children’s chorus, and 65 Heritage High School students performing onstage in the cast and ensemble.
The cast is headlined by Nathan Barth (senior), Thomas Castleberry (senior), and Kacie Endsley (senior) in “Fish” cast performances and John Fehler (junior), Nic May (junior), and Kate Clarke (senior) in “Flower” cast performances.

The “Fish” cast performs on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, and the “Flower” cast performs the Saturday 2 matinee.

Big Fish musical poster

“The All-School Musical is a great opportunity to involve more students. Not only are there various ways to participate, but anyone at Heritage can audition, regardless of what classes they are currently taking,” Brown said. “It is a massive joint effort across the fine arts department and Heritage community to make the musical happen, but the results are always worth it.

“Being part of a large project, coordinating and problem-solving with peers, teaches invaluable leadership skills, creativity, and grit. Involvement in the arts reaches students who don’t learn as well through traditional means, sparking an interest in academic achievement and improving memory retention. It increases social and emotional skills and leads to improvements in school, civic, and social engagement.

“With all the benefits performers (and audience!) get from the musical, our goal has been to always involve as many students as possible.”

BROADWAY DALLAS Competition

Brown said the production will also be entered in the Broadway Dallas competition for high school performances. Last year was their first time entering the competition with their production of “Fiddler On The Roof,” and they did quite well. “Fiddler” received nominations for Best Music Direction and Outstanding Lead.

“Our nominee for Outstanding Lead, Isaac George, and representative Rhegan Burkart, performed onstage at the awards ceremony in June,” Brown said. “It’s a great opportunity for students.”

 

The Heritage Theatre Program Has Grown Exponentially

Heritage Theatre has seven full productions each year. The Main Stage series includes the varsity fall play, All-School Musical, and UIL One Act Play. The Studio Series includes the JV fall play, winter play series, JV spring play, and seniors direct – which is precisely what the name says: seniors direct the production.

“And that’s only for theatre! There are many performances, competitions, and events by the other Fine Arts disciplines,” Brown said.

Heritage’s first musical was “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” produced in January 2016 – the second year Heritage was open.

“We had ten performers in that first musical, with less than 20 students involved in the production. Since then, we have produced a musical annually – involving more and more students,” Brown said.

Subsequent productions have included “Beauty and the Beast,” “Into the Woods,” “Newsies,” “The Music Man,” “Footloose,” “The Wizard of Oz,” and “Fiddler” last year.

“Right after we close ‘Big Fish,’ the varsity theatre team will be pivoting our focus to preparing our one-act play production for competition at the beginning of March, with a pre-UIL performance in the Heritage Auditorium March 1 at 7 p.m.,” Brown said.

“The Musical Theatre program at Heritage has grown exponentially over the past nine years and showcases outstanding student talent across the fine arts. I hope more members of our community have the opportunity to come out and see these students shine!”

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Rick Mauch
Rick Mauch is a veteran of more than four decades in the media. He began writing in high school and immediately went into broadcasting for almost a decade after graduating, working his way to morning drive in Birmingham, Alabama. However, realizing how much he missed writing (though he did continue to do some during his time in top-40 radio), Rick returned to what he loved and has been doing it ever since. Rick's career has spanned a plethora of media outlets, including community journalism, sports, entertainment, politics and more. He's worked in print, broadcast and online media. He also spent several years doing public relations for a children's home in East Texas - still writing on the side, of course. When he's not writing, Rick loves to play golf and do Bigfoot research. He's an avid believer. He also made his first hole-in-one in June of 2020. Rick is married to Junell Mauch. They have five children and three granddaughters

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