‘Emma, A Pop Musical’ performed at the Roxy

Friday, March 26, 2021
The cast of “Emma, A Pop Musical” greeted theatergoers outside the Roxy Theater in Alta Saturday night after the show.

A-A high school students lit up the stage last weekend with performances of “Emma, A Pop Musical” on March 20 and 21 at the Roxy Theater in Alta. The music department’s production incorporated singing, dancing and humor in the matchmaking-themed musical.

Stage Director Carrie Buddenhagen routinely directs the high school’s fall musical and spring play, which this year ended up being a spring musical. Due to COVID, they postponed the usual fall musical to the dates of the spring play.

“The musical went very well. It was great to see the cast perform for an audience. They always do a wonderful job in rehearsals, but having an audience to perform for gives them an extra boost to really bring their characters to life.” Buddenhagen said. She is appreciative the production came to fruition. “A lot of places in the state are not having plays at all.”

There is still time to see the musical by accessing an on-demand performance that will be streamed on March 27 and 28. Details for purchasing the streaming tickets are available on the Alta-Aurelia School District website and Alta-Aurelia Warriors Speech and Drama Facebook page. 

Written by Eric Price and adapted from the 1815 novel by Jane Austen, the musical was set in modern day following this storyline: Emma Woodhouse, (Lydia Feis), considers herself to be Highbury Prep’s top matchmaker after she gets together two of her teachers. She attempts to match her best friend Harriet Smith (Sierra Hill), with school president nominee Philip Elton (Parker Buckendahl) and herself with rock star Frankie Churchill (Brennan Shea). 

Meanwhile, the arrival of a new potential student and heiress, Jane Fairfax (Abigail Marcos), stirs up controversy. In the end, four couples are unexpectedly matched. To name a few, Harriet ends up with the lunch busboy Martin (Matthew Cummins), and Emma ends up with the power-focused schoolboy Jeff Knightley (Harrison Price).

Other cast members were Ellie Kaskey, Trista Erlandson, Ethan Stopczynski, Ava Graham, Madlin Wipperling, Joelle Arnts, Lily Buckendahl, Kyla Galvin, Tegan Owens, Katie Bryant, Sarah Cummins, Piper Graham, Laynie Knecht, Kayla Mongan, Abby Peterson, Lorelei Schumacher and Jared Stopczynski.

Student directors were Cass Parks and Nora Boelter, stage manager Tori Gustafson, stage director Carrie Buddenhagen and music director Natalie Bradburn.

Performers sang and danced to pop songs which included “Man. I Feel Like a Woman.” “Be My Baby,” “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” “Heartbreaker,” “Whatta Man,” and “Roar.” 

The look was different this season with everyone on stage wearing masks, but audibility was not a problem. After the performances, cast members and crew greeted theatergoers outside the theater.

Due to the pandemic, the last musical performance at the Roxy Theater was in November 2019  with “Willy Wonka.” “We were able to have our Speech Team Showcase performances for Large Group and Individual before schools closed last March, so those were really the last performances at the Roxy for 2020,” Buddenhagen said. “We were one week from opening our spring play when the schools closed last March, and unfortunately, we weren’t able to reschedule it.”

However, the Roxy was not empty during the entire COVID shutdown. “A few volunteers spent some time on some organizing and storage projects during the end of the summer and into the fall. Our Speech Team started rehearsals in November, and we were able to perform in-person at contests this winter. So, the Roxy was quiet for only a couple of months during the shutdown,” she said.

The Buena Vista Community Theatre postponed their summer 2020 mainstage production of “Little Shop of Horrors” to this June. “We’ll be releasing more info about auditions and performance dates soon. Last summer, we had a virtual program for our Next Generation Theatre youth theatre. Plans are in the works for in-person youth programming for this summer. We are so excited to get back on stage.” Buddenhagen said.