FFHS Musical Revue asks the big questions this week

By Ken Kellar
Staff writer
kkellar@fortfrances.com

You might already know the answer, but what was the question?

You’ll be able to find out this week as Fort Frances High School and Muskie Music present “Can You Repeat the Question,” this year’s musical revue, running at the Townshend Theatre from Thursday, November 10, to Saturday, November 12. This year’s musical revue will feature songs new and old that each feature a question for the audience, whether it be in the song title or as part of the lyrics. Some of the classic songs the audience will get to hear during the show’s runtime include ABBA’s “Mamma Mia,” Cher’s “Believe” and a unique take on “The Muffin Man.” The show’s setlist was in part decided by the cast.

As the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted many of the extracurricular activities that students could participate in at the school for a number of years, this year marks the first year since 2019 the musical revue has been able to run. Additionally, a weekend of confusion regarding the recent CUPE strike action threw even more chaos into an already difficult mix as staff, students and crew waited to find out if they would regain access to the Townshend Theatre in time for their shows, or if they would be forced to move to another venue.

Now, thankfully, with COVID and strikes behind them, all have been hard at work getting the revue ready for opening night and reflecting on the work and joy that goes into being part of the production.

Among this year’s cast are Amy Norris, Mickenna Ryll, Adrianna McCoy and MJ McPherson, many of whom have never taken part in a high school musical revue in the past, and all of whom came to the production for different reasons.

McCoy explained that of the four, she’s the only one with previous experience in a musical revue, having participated in Grade 9. For the others, coming to take part was a combination of facing some fears and even finding out how to participate in the first place.

“I had no idea you could sign up for them,” McPherson said.

“I thought people were just, ‘hey, I want you.'”

Norris and Ryll said they had been too nervous to try out for the show during their Grade 9 year, but after the disruptions of COVID felt like this year was finally time to go for it.

Once they had come onboard, however, they all found the space they were in to be welcoming, helping to alleviate some of those initial nerves and work with their castmates towards getting the show ready to go.

Everyone comes to a musical production with a different skill set, so the four students admit there have been some challenges throughout the process of bringing the revue to life, but it’s also been an exciting and fun experience.

“I think the most exciting thing was breaking out of my shell,” Ryll said.

“I used to be a really shy, quiet, reserved person. But as the rest of the cast knows, I’m really not. I really enjoyed leaving myself at the door. you become a character as soon as you walk onstage. It’s my favourite part.”

“It was really fun meeting everyone,” Norris added.

“I don’t really interact with people in the school other than our grade, so it was really fun meeting everyone and interacting with them. I do think the most challenging part is memorizing every lyric in time for the show.”

Fort Frances High School students ran through their routines and choreography on the Townshend Theatre during their rehearsal for this year’s musical revue on Monday, November 7, 2022. This year’s show features songs that ask the audience a question in its title or lyrics. The musical revue opens tomorrow, Thursday, November 10, 2022. – Ken Kellar photo

“I just really love getting together with everyone and being able to work on everything together,” McCoy said.

“It’s such a great community and I love everyone that’s a part of it. As for what was most difficult, I think learning the choreo and at the very beginning deciding what pieces we would be putting into the show.”

“I’ve had social anxiety for my entire life, so whenever I go on stage, my brain just kind of completely forgets about that, about the mental illness, and I can be eccentric and loud and stuff,” McPherson concluded.

“The hardest part; I’m not a dance person. I’ve never taken dance in my life, so choreo and understanding these words that they’re saying… I had no clue what a ‘grapevine’ meant in terms of dance until this last year, so it’s definitely the hardest thing I’ve had to deal with.”

With the opening night of the show only a day away, each of the students encouraged the public to come out to support the work and effort that has gone into getting the musical revue off the ground, as well as to help support future projects at the high school.

“There’s something for everyone,” McPherson said.

“There’s all of these genres, there’s definitely going to be something at least one person in the audience is going to like. Also, we spent a lot of time on the show. There’s a lot of effort into it for everyone to see and enjoy.”

“We have worked super hard on the show,” McCoy agreed.

“I think it’ll be a really great experience for everyone. Also it does help out with the musical as well, which is super awesome. All of our ticket sales go towards that. It’s a very fun experience for everyone to enjoy.”

“Although the show is really polished, there are some moments of humour where the cast really gets to let loose and the audience can see a different side of us,” Ryll said.

“Even if you’re not interested in heavy metal music or pop music or 50s music, there’s something for everybody to enjoy, and it kind of just shows you a little bit who we are.”

“I recommend for people going into high school to go watch it,” Norris added.

“Then they know what extracurriculars are open for them. Even if you do have stage fright, the cast is very open and accepting and will help you through it and is always there for you. You don’t have to go for a solo your first year, you can just get the experience from that.”

Fort Frances High School and Muskie Music’s musical revue “Can You Repeat the Question” opens this Thursday, November 10, and runs through to Saturday, November 12, at the Townshend Theatre. The show begins at 7:00 p.m. each night, and tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for students and seniors and are available at the door.