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Students ready to present 'Fame'
March 21, 2010
By JEANETTE DeFORGE

HOLYOKE - Teacher Mark G. Todd selected "Fame" as the 11th annual musical to be performed at Holyoke High School, but admitted he was a little concerned about filling the part of dancer Tyrone.

That was until Joshua A. Cordero, an 18-year-old junior, showed up unexpectedly at auditions.

"I heard about it from one of my friends. They told me I would like it because I dance," Cordero said.

Cordero, who started talking dance lessons six years ago after developing an interest while watching his younger sister's classes, has been trained in many styles including jazz, hip hop, modern and ballet.

His only problem with the role is he never learned to sing.

"I can't sing. I'm not a singer, but I try," he said.

Cordero is one of 39 students who will act, sing and dance in the annual musical. About 50 more students will do everything from sound and lighting to makeup and handling scenery and props.

The annual musical has grown in popularity and frequently it will sell out during some of its four performances.

It attracts a lot of participation. A live orchestra, which usually includes some students, will accompany the musical. One Holyoke High graduate who is attending Holyoke Community College returned to serve as a vocal coach. Teachers and students are building a taxi that will be rolled on stage, Todd said.

Auditions for the musical began in January and continued for two weeks because more than 100 students wanted a part. Rehearsals began shortly after that with students practicing as often as five nights a week, he said.

"We chose 'Fame' because it has a big cast and I think it fits the kids in our school," Todd said.

Students acting in "Fame" agreed they relate to the characters more in the 1980s musical than to those in earlier musicals such as "Oklahoma" and "South Pacific." "Fame" also has an urban setting.

"With the dancing and the singing, I think they (the audience) are really going to be blown away," said Geraldo Lopez, 17, a senior whose character provides a lot of the comic relief in the musical.

Students and the directors, who include Todd and his wife, Lori, did face a challenge when they first received the script for the musical.

"There were a jokes and swears and things put in there. We had to clean it up a little," Lopez said.

Daniel J. Burns, 17, and Melody M. Wellinger, 17, both seniors, are playing characters who have a little love interest.

Burns said his character is more mature and serious about his singing, which is a little like his own personality. Wellinger said her part is that of a love struck girl who is a lot more naive than she is.

While some students, such as Burns, are considering a career on the stage, many others are simply participating in the play because they enjoy it.

"Most of us do it for the love of music. We love to act and sing and dance," Burns said.

"I think it is just fun," Wellinger said.



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