February 15, 2012 - Brandon Twp.- Every year during auditions for the school musical, there are always one or two students that walk on stage for the first time and surprise Debbie Sebetic.
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"They try out and I think, 'Where have you been?'" said Sebetic, Brandon High School musical director. "If you have any interest at all in acting or singing, come and spend time with us and audition."
Joe Kelley, a 17-year-old BHS senior, had always been told he could sing, but never tried out for a musical until this year. He wasn't in choir and didn't believe he had a chance, but he went for it anyway and scored the role of Alfred P. Doolittle in this year's musical, "My Fair Lady."
He will be joined by approximately 60 castmembers when Brandon High School presents one of Broadway's longest running hits on Feb. 23, 24, and 25 at the BHS Performing Arts Center, 1025 S. Ortonville Road.
"I really wanted this part," said Kelley, who first tried his acting chops last fall in the BHS play, "The Crucible." "My character (Alfred) is very comedic and goofy, but he has a lot of original ideas and philosophies. He's kind of a deadbeat dad, but he brings a newer sense of morality. He represents that poor people can be smart, too."
"My Fair Lady" centers around Eliza Doolittle (Alfred's daughter), a flower girl in 1930s London who speaks "Cockney" English, a working class dialect thought to be inferior by many upper class Brits. She meets Professor Henry Higgins, and begins taking speech lessons to be more "proper."
"It's the story of a girl who wants to be something more," said Kelley. "She wants to be fancier, but she becomes a stronger, more independent person."
The musical is based upon George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion" with lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe. The BHS production features 28 musical numbers, including "On the Street Where You Live," "Show Me," "Little Bit of Luck," "The Rain in Spain," and "Get Me to the Church on Time."
"I've wanted to direct this for some time," said Sebetic. "But you have to have the right cast for it—you need a superior lead male role for Henry Higgins."
She found that in Cameron Tahaney, a BHS junior who won the role of Higgins. Tahaney is an MSVMA All-state singer.
"When I saw the movie, I said, 'I want to be that guy,'" recalls Tahaney of his viewing of the film version of "My Fair Lady." "(Higgins) makes really rude, snide comments, but they generate a lot of laughs. I like making people laugh and on stage it's ten times better… I like how my snobbiness builds up in the play, and then it all collapses on me."
Nicole Ladd, a BHS senior, plays Eliza Doolittle, a role she said is difficult because of the accent and differences between Eliza's cultural setting and values and her own.
"One of the main themes of 'My Fair Lady' is how language relates to your social class and how manners come into play. I think audiences will fall in love with Eliza and her naivete. Plus, the music is great and very upbeat."
Tickets for "My Fair Lady" are on sale in the high school lobby from 4 p.m.-6 p.m. Feb. 21 and 22 and will be available at the door each performance night. An early bird performance will be at 5 p.m., Feb. 23. Tickets for this performance are $8. Tickets are $10 for the 7 p.m. performances on Feb. 24 and Feb. 25. Details: Jody Yettaw at 248-766-1289.
Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville