'This Ain't Broadway' hits Nikiski

Posted: Thursday, April 28, 2011

What happens when a playwright can't be original, a journalist is wooing him for a story, and about 50 students from Nikiski Middle/High School get involved in bringing their story to life?

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Photo Courtesy Of Nikiski Middle/High School
Photo Courtesy Of Nikiski Middle/High School
Nikiski students Ben Carstens, Same Taurianinen, Lilly Denison, Jayton Rizzo, Shaylee Rizzo, Greg Brown, Erin O'Brien, Ryder Payment, Hannah Halliday, Katie Costello and Javon Pamplin rehearse a scene from "This Ain't Broadway," an original musical running this weekend and next weekend.

"What it's turned into is this extraordinary three ring circus," said Joe Rizzo, ringmaster for the new musical.

"This Ain't Broadway," written by Rizzo, opens Friday night at Nikiski Middle/High School.

The show spoofs a slew of musicals while telling the story a playwright desperate for a Broadway hit -- and a journalist trying to get the scoop on his new show.

Rizzo said the protagonist, Robert Irwin, explores a number of ideas, only to realize he's just copying something that has already been done.

"The conceit is that this playwright can't come up with an original plot," Rizzo said.

That's where the parodies come in.

In one number, Irwin writes a musical about a giant Iguana that faces a nuclear disaster. The dancers come on-stage, singing about Godzilla, to the tune of "Matchmaker," from "Fiddler on the Roof" -- and Irwin realizes it's been done before.

Senior Caty Reid, who plays the female lead, said she loves the humor incorporated into each mishap.

"I like all the spoofs and puns," she said.

Reid's said her favorite is a parody of the "West Side Story" song, "America."

"Since I'm in love with the original number, it makes it that much more hilarious when I watch the spoof of it."

Most of the songs are taken from other musicals, but the lyrics are original.

"All the music is famous Broadway music," Rizzo said.

The lyrics were written by Mim McKay, Nikiski's choir teacher. She also wrote the original song in the show.

"I just think the lyrics are hilarious," Reid said.

Rizzo said McKay has a way with more than words. She's also brought out great vocals from the students, he said, particularly the middle school boys.

"Most of my boys are middle schoolers, which bodes really well for us," Rizzo said.

In fact, out of a cast of 22, about 70 percent are middle schoolers, Reid said. That's been a challenge and a blessing for the older members of the cast.

"This show has been really fun to train the younger kids," Reid said.

That training includes teaching them how to act backstage, and helping them with their spoofs and bits.

"It's been a wonderful process to go through," Reid said.

It wouldn't be Broadway -- or a Nikiski musical -- without the third ring of the circus -- choreography.

The show includes Broadway-style, larger-than-life dance numbers choreographed by Chris Morin.

Along with Rizzo and McKay, Phil Morin is the third teacher for Nikiski's musical theater class, which puts about 50 students to work producing a musical each spring.

"I think we're probably the only high school in the district that has a musical theater class," Rizzo said.

The show runs this Friday and Saturday, and May 6 and 7, at 7 p.m. at the school. Tickets will be sold at the door, $10 for adults and $5 for students.

While Reid loves the "West Side Story" number, she said the whole show is worth watching.

"I've loved working with the kids, they've grown a lot, and I think the show's going to be really, really good," she said.

Molly Dischner can be reached at molly.dischner@peninsulaclarion.com.

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