Two Musicals Highlight the 2018-19 Robins Theatre Season

The season will kick off with the musical Chicago

As he began the announcement of the 2018-19 productions at the close of the Theatre Awards ceremony on Saturday, April 28, theatre teacher Craig Smith said, “Next year, we’re going to break the rules.” The ‘rule’ being broken was more like a pattern that he and former theatre teacher Monica Moehring ’95 had fallen into: a lighthearted play in the fall, a darker topic in the winter (under Mrs. Moehring’s direction), and a musical in the spring. With some variation, that pattern has mostly held since theatre teacher Susan Sanford joined the faculty.

So, when Mr. Smith—along with Ms. Sanford, who joined him via video—announced that night that there would be two musicals in 2018-19, the audience went wild.

Chicago, October 18-20, 2018

The fall play will be the newly-released high school edition of Chicago, the Tony-winning play originally written by John Kander and Fred Ebb, and it will be directed by Ms. Sanford. It will be open to Middle and Upper School students.

“The kids have been asking” to do additional musicals, according to Mr. Smith, and with the new version of Chicago just being released in January 2018, he and Ms. Sanford were ecstatic to be one of the first schools in the nation to be awarded the selection. Mr. Smith has not yet seen the script, but says he expects that it will be a simplified version of the original. He also added that Ms. Sanford is a natural with the Bob Fosse-style of dance.

Who Am I This Time? (& Other Conundrums of Love), February 7-9, 2019

Mr. Smith will direct the winter play, Who Am I This Time? (& Other Conundrums of Love) by Aaron Posner, which was adapted from stories by Kurt Vonnegut. Mr. Smith is a fan of Mr. Vonnegut’s work and loves this particular production because it weaves together three short stories.

The three original stories adapted for this production are from the collection “Long Walk To Forever," "Who Am I This Time?" and "Go Back To Your Precious Wife And Son.” He said there will be 14 roles for actors, and although it’s a smaller cast, it’s a very “sweet story” (as compared to many Vonnegut works) with a through-line, in which the narrator becomes a character.

Honk!, April 25-27, 2019

Next year’s final production will be Honk! by Anthony Drewe and George Stiles, a musical version of “The Ugly Duckling” by Hans Christian Anderson. Roles will be open to students in grades K-12.

Mr. Smith, who will direct this play, said the story “is such a sweet retelling” of the original story, and he loves being able to offer a show that is open to almost the entire Steward student body. “I like the idea of building it and making it something that’s for the whole school,” he said. The department’s goal is to offer two musicals every other year, including one for grades K-12.

Both Ms. Sanford and Mr. Smith are very pleased with the current state of the theatre program. In addition to establishing a chapter of the International Thespian Society at Steward last fall, they have seen more and more students audition for the plays. Though several outstanding senior actors will graduate in June, the teachers are excited about the number of younger actors getting involved during Middle School.

“We’re moving in the right direction and trying to offer as many different types of things as we can,” Mr. Smith said. Because they have the technical support they need under the direction of Ryan Gallagher, he adds, “We’re not afraid of anything.”





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