The musical revue starts April 27.
There’s a lot for Winter Park High School students to look forward to as the school year comes to a close. For most students, it’s the chance to take a season off and enjoy a well-earned vacation. For seniors, it’s the time to finally graduate and leave high school entirely.
The school’s choral department, however, is excited for something special: the 20th anniversary of its Night on Broadway musical production.
More than 250 student musicians will be part of the broadway revue April 25 to 27, at Winter Park High School. To celebrate two decades of musical excitement, this year’s performance will feature several songs from past Night on Broadway events.
It’s a fast-paced production schedule — the entire show is created and perfected in about five weeks — but Winter Park High School senior Isabel Barbato said she welcomes the intensity of “Night on Broadway Season.”
“It’s a crazy energy; it’s a little hectic at times,” Barbato said. “I’ve experienced more of that energy as I’ve gone along. … It’s really great for everyone in the chorus department.”
There’s Only One You
Night on Broadway has taken on many genres throughout the years — from folk musicals to music ragtime and operettas. But given that this year’s event is celebrating two decades of performance, much of the show’s music will be the hits from previous iterations. The show will open with the theme from “New York, New York” and will feature songs from “The Pirates of Penzance.”
Matthew Swope, Winter Park High School’s director of choral activities, and associate director Hollie Pratt are keeping most of the repertoire a secret, but Swope promises the audience will be surprised by what the students have planned.
Night on Broadway was created 20 years ago to honor Winter Park High student Tyler Rush, who was killed in a car crash in 1998. Proceeds from the night benefit the Tyler Rush Memorial Scholarship Fund, which has given out $157,000 to graduating chorus students so far. This year has an endowment meant to support future scholarships, as well.
One section of the show will have a theme of light and continuation and will be dedicated to Rush. And as always, the production will end with a rendition of “There’s Only One You,” the song commissioned by composer Jason Howland and Dani Davis that honors Rush.
“This is our 20th Night on Broadway, and (Tyler) has always remained at the heart of it,” Swope said. “(‘There’s Only One You’) has become meaningful to our students and our alumni. … It’s one of the only songs where all students who matriculate through our program sing.”
Something Swope is particularly proud of is how every student in the choral program participates in the show and collaborates with the school’s band and orchestra players as well.
Jesse Roldan, a Winter Park freshman, is joining his older brother in the chorus group to sing during Night on Broadway.
“I’ve never been in a musical (event) myself,” Roldan said. “It’s very new but also very exciting. I like seeing how everything plays out. And during the process with these late nights, we get to know each other.”
Barbato is part of several numbers and is performing “Poor Wandering One” from “The Pirates of Penzance” as her solo piece. Her final Night on Broadway show has been a more emotional event than she anticipated. She has enjoyed singing alongside her friends these past four years — she just wishes she could do so longer.
“It didn’t really hit me until yesterday (at our first dress rehearsal),” Barbato said. “At the end, everyone started crying, which was unusual for a Monday night dress rehearsal … just standing there and looking around seeing all my best friends was really emotional for me.”
If You Go: Winter Park High School’s Night On Broadway 2019
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday, April 26 to Saturday, April 27
WHERE: Winter Park High School, 2100 Summerfield Road, Winter Park
TICKETS: $15 to $19 and available online at teachtix.com/wphs/night-on-broadway-2019