A Backstage Tour of Repertory Theater


Kevin Rohman

Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School’s music department has always been able to put on stunning performances with great music and acting. The annual Repertory Theater musical is consistently well thought out, so it should come as no surprise that the process behind picking the show is not as simple as it might seem.
The music department considers a wide array of factors when choosing their show: previous shows, current trends, different musical styles and more. For instance, a gap of ten years is the unofficial minimum between different productions of the same musical. “Anything Goes,” “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” “Grease,” and “Bye-Bye Birdie,” were all performed at SPFHS before the more recent renditions, but were brought back because of their styles of music.
“We try to vary the types of productions, so they not only appeal to students, but also challenge them,” Rep Theater’s musical director and producer Jan Allen said. “From the students who are onstage, acting, dancing and singing, to the students who are involved behind the scenes, we try to select shows that offer a different series of challenges.”
The process of putting the show together has been refined; the musicals put on decades ago were much more student run, with some advice and help from the staff. Over the years, new musical directors took a more hands-on approach, and gradually made Repertory Theater into what it is today. With multiple teachers and other faculty working on the musical, along with the pit instrumentalists, stage crew, ensemble, actors and actresses, a lot goes into making each show better than the last.
The latest musical by Repertory Theater, “Bye-Bye Birdie,” will premiere on Friday, March 10, 2017.