Senior thespians shine in “Bright Star”

Prepping for the performance: Seniors Topher Elliot, Havyn Fish, Hannah Wilson and Kamber Schmidt add the finishing touches to their make-up. The senior cast shone especially bright in this year's production of "Bright Star."

By Rheanna DeCrow

Bettendorf High School students wrapped up their four day run of the musical “Bright Star.” Considering all the struggles of this year, it would be a reasonable assumption to think that the musical wouldn’t live up to the standards of past productions at Bettendorf High School.

I’m here to tell you that this is simply not true.

There is no doubt the performers were tired from the long rehearsals leading up to the show, as well as nervous because this was the first time they had seen a live audience in a whole year. Despite these facts, the opening number of the show was a beautiful start. Not one actor looked nervous or out of place, and it was clear that the vocals had been worked on tirelessly. The immaculate vocals and the acting work was consistent throughout the show.

If we want to talk about specific characters and production leaders, the success of the musical was driven home by the seniors. This was particularly true for the lead role, Alice Murphy, played by senior Hannah Wilson. A true thespian, Wilson truly has a special gift when she is on stage. Not only does her voice have a bright, beautiful ring that fits perfectly with the southern setting of the play, but the emotional expression that she is able to portray is incredible for a high school student. In the series of tragedies that occur, Wilson had the audience in tears while she begged her father (senior Aiden Doe) not to sign the adoption papers for her newly born son. Her performance was a truly amazing testament to the time and effort she has put into her work on stage.

Another true star and pillar of success on the stage was the amazing performance of senior Topher Elliot playing Jimmy Ray. It was Elliot’s performance that made the audience extremely emotional after the baby was taken and thrown off the train. The pain and suffering that Topher was able to portray through his beautiful sound touched the audience to the point of tears.

Between the leadership of Wilson and Elliot, it would be hard to imagine any more individuals that were as talented as these two, but it would be a crime not to acknowledge the role of Margo played by senior Havyn Fish. Fish’s role was extremely crucial to the females in the audience because the seemingly unrequited love that she has for Billy was something that the audience could really relate to. Her performance gave the play connected with the audience even though the play was set in the early 1900s.

Aside from the seniors, juniors Tyler Koch and Nathan Hutcheson along with sophomore Jordyn Mitchell did an incredible job of bringing the play to life in both the plot and in the humor category. The performance of Billy Cane made it clear that Koch had no reservations whatsoever about sharing his passions with every single member of the audience. His talent and voice was extremely impressive, especially in his emotional performance at the beginning of the production where he is singing about his mother's death. Two of the standout roles were Hutcheson as the sassy, sarcastic Daryl, and Mitchell playing the flirtatious Lucy. They brought the humor that this play needed with all of its dark elements. Only a sophomore, Mitchell made it clear to the audience that she enjoyed what she was doing. Not only was her voice amazing when she sang her song, but it was clear that it wasn’t just the character having fun. With Hutcheson, it was clear that his character was one with him. He was perfect for the role, but also put his own individual spin on it without being cheesy or over the top. Mitchell and Hutcheson made the play very enjoyable and humorous.

Overall, the Bettendorf Theater Department did an amazing job of putting together this performance. The hard work and dedication of these students was impressive. Led by an amazing group of seniors, the musical was a great last hurrah for the talent that will not be returning to Bettendorf next year, but that will remain in the memories of audiences for years to come.

Rheanna DeCrow is a senior.

This is her first year as a staff writer and social media manager for The Growl.


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