The school's production will take the audience through 105 years of music history.
Have they got a show for you.
Winter Park High School will keep an ongoing tradition strong Friday, April 20, through Saturday, April 21, as its choral department performs the 19th annual Night on Broadway at the Ann Derflinger Auditorium on the main high school campus.
Every year has a different theme, and this installment is taking audience members back to the glory days of the The Great American Songbook, which includes music by George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Irving Berlin during the 1920s through the 1940s.
A second act also will feature the theme of an American Jukebox musical, which takes existing popular songs and creates a story around it. The students will take the audience on a musical trip through time from the music of the 1950s like Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash all the way to music from the early 2000s with Green Day.
The performance, titled “Night on Broadway 2018: The American Songbook,” involves between 275 and 300 chorus students, pit orchestra members and several volunteers coming together for one blowout production. Even a professional Broadway choreographer comes in from New York to work with the students.
The opening night performance was held 7:30 p.m. April 19.
“We’re very excited — every year, it’s a very daunting process; it’s a fully immersive experience for our students,” Winter Park High School director of choral activities Matthew Swope said. “We put up the entire show from start to finish in four weeks, and it involves every student in our program.
“We’re covering about 105 years of music history, so hopefully there’s something for everybody in there,” he said.
Night on Broadway began 19 years ago to honor Winter Park High School student Tyler Rush, who was killed in a car crash in 1998.
“He was super passionate about musical theater, so after his death, they started this event called Night on Broadway in his memory and to honor his spirit and to keep it alive,” Swope said. “It’s grown since then in different manifestations of the production. It’s ranged from everything to musical revue format to operetta to kind of more concert style. … Every year, there’s some kind of additional theme or title, but it all goes back to honoring (Tyler Rush).”
Every production of Night on Broadway since 2008 has also ended with a rendition of “There’s Only One You,” a song commissioned from Broadway composer Jason Howland and Dani Davis that pays tribute to Rush.
Proceeds from ticket sales also benefit the Tyler Rush Memorial Scholarship Fund, which helps any student who has had at least a year in the choral department go on to pursue higher education and college.
“Since the event started, in the past 19 years, we’ve raised (more than) $141,000 for scholarships,” Swope said. “That’s the thing that makes it a bit special in addition to just being a high-school musical production.”
Winter Park High School students such as Jake Rotz are excited to take the stage.
“Night on Broadway is like my favorite part of the entire year, because I want to study musical theater,” Rotz said. “I love chorus and I love the music we do throughout the year, but Night on Broadway is a whole different experience, because it incorporates so much dance and acting and pop music. You’re close with the people around you in the department, and you learn so much about yourself and the people you work with every day, but this brings a whole other aspect of it.”
Student Brooke Livingston said there’s a strong bond between the students in the production.
“It’s just incredible to be a part of and getting to spend all this time with such wonderful people and put on such a meaningful and powerful show,” Livingston said.