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HCS spring musical brings the Roaring Twenties to life

The cast of Holderness Central’s spring musical, “Charleston,” performs the title number during a rehearsal earlier this week. (Brendan Berube) (click for larger version)
April 13, 2011
HOLDERNESS — The era of speak-easy's, flappers, and Tommy-gun toting gangsters will be brought vividly to life on the Holderness Central School's stage this weekend by the cast and crew of this year's spring musical, "Charleston."

Written by Tim Kelly, with music and lyrics by Bill Francoeur, "Charleston" looks back at the "Roaring Twenties" through the eyes of the zaniest cast of characters ever to shake a leg at the Crazy Cat Club.

Polly Pepper, an ingénue who dreams of dancing in the famous Ziegfeld Follies, is about to turn 18, and invites her closest friends (all 50 of them) to her birthday party, where she will inherit a priceless diamond necklace. Her new boyfriend, Buck Wayne, a hotshot pilot with a gift (or is it a curse?) for making women swoon, wouldn't miss the celebration for the world … even if it means landing his plane on her family's prized polo grounds. But a few uninvited guests show up for the party, as well — a pair of husband and wife con artists intent on living the high life at someone else's expense, and a trio of bumbling gangsters with their sights set on the necklace.

Featuring the classic songs "It Has to be Jazz," "Flapper," "Dijja Ever?" and the title number, "Ev'rybody Charleston," the show offers music and laughs in equal measure, all while gently poking fun at the excesses of the Prohibition era.

The cast of Holderness Central’s spring musical, “Charleston,” performs the title number during a rehearsal earlier this week. (Brendan Berube) (click for larger version)
Returning to the director's chair for this year's show is art teacher Melody Funk, who said during a rehearsal Monday afternoon that "Charleston" had exactly what she always looks for in a show — lots of roles for her young actors, songs tailored for middle school voices, and a storyline with a bit of history behind it.

"There has to be something educational to hook to," she said, explaining that the subject matter of the show has inspired many cast and crew members to research the Prohibition era and draw parallels between the stock market crash of 1929 that brought the Roaring Twenties to an end and the economic collapse of 2008 that triggered the current recession.

Assisting Funk with the staging of "Charleston" is Amanda Bussolari, a resident of the area with a background in dance who has helped out with past shows, and volunteered her services again this year as a choreographer.

With a cast and crew that includes 80 students in grades five through eight, "Charleston" promises to be one of the most ambitious productions ever mounted at Holderness Central — one that is sure to leave its mark on audiences.

Performances of "Charleston" are scheduled for Saturday night, April 16, at 7 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. Tickets will be available at the door.

Martin Lord Osman
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