Montrose Thespians Dazzle the Stage with Big: The Musical!

Maevis Fahey '21 and Jenn Uche '22

Last Thursday, the cast of Montrose’s All-School Musical graced the stage in the A&A Building for their stellar (and hilarious!) performance of Big: The Musical.

Originally, the Montrose Players planned to perform the annual All-School Musical this past weekend — March 13th and 14th. But last week, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic quickly intensified across the United States. Montrose, among many schools in the Boston area, made the decision to cancel school in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

Hence, the cast of Big: The Musical learned on Wednesday afternoon that their performance schedule would occur quite differently than they expected — Cast-A would perform at the end of the school day on Thursday, and Cast-B would perform after school. The Montrose Players truly exhibited courage and unity to bring the show to the A&A stage on Thursday afternoon for the student body and faculty, and the show was one for the books.

From handshake-dances between best friends to shining white suits and tophats to hilarious jokes for all ages, the cast and crew of Big: The Musical deserved every ounce of laughter and applause it received. The musical follows the story of Josh Baskin, a hopeful twelve-year-old who wishes to be big enough to stay up late and impress a pretty classmate named Cynthia Benson. At a local carnival, Josh discovers a mysterious Zoltar machine (Kate Pioch ‘22), which helps make his dreams magically come true. The next morning, Josh wakes up as a hairy 30-year-old! Through all of the laughable confusion, his best friend, Billy (Anna Sheehan ‘21) sticks with him through it all. The musical follows Josh to New York City, where he finds a job at a toy company and grows closer with a fellow employee named Susan (Bailey Merchant ‘22). 

The story of a middle school boy wanting to change himself to impress others is a funny and relatable story to all. Big teaches valuable lessons like Enjoy your life while you’re young!, Be yourself, and more importantly, Have friends within your age range!!!

The stunningly talented Emily Nelson ‘20, who played the lead protagonist role of Josh Baskin, said: “The amount of support we received from the student community made me tear up more than a little — I saw juniors give a classmate a good-luck gift, I got supportive texts from my classmates, and most of all, I loved the reactions from the audience! I don’t know if they know this, but through a simple ‘awwww’ or an audible laugh, the audience made us feel so much more at ease!”

Eliza Glaeser ‘24, who played Cynthia Benson (Josh’s crush), added: “It was really difficult to learn that we were performing a day early and that we had to perform two entire shows back to back. However, the cast and crew were all amazing and really persevered through it. I really loved that the entire school got to come to see the show.”

Big: The Musical touches every emotion of the heart. It begins with swinging songs like “Talk to Her,” but also shifts to sweet ballads like “Stars” and the heart-wrenching “Stop Time.” Then, the score moves back into a joyful tone with the cheerily choreographed “Coffee Black” and “Cross the Line.” Through the numerous costume changes and set designs, the Montrose Players demonstrated true love for theater and talent in the arts. 

In addition to the shortened Tech Week and early performance, Performing Arts Director Mrs. Locke started maternity leave earlier this year. Even when Mrs. Locke couldn’t attend Tech Week or the performances, the whole cast and crew of the production made the best of the situation and came together to bring the show to its very best. Chorus Director and French teacher Ms Lechner and Dean of Students Mrs. Derendorf among other faculty members helped to organize Tech Week and assist with behind-the-scenes.

When asked about her favorite part of the show, Anna Sheehan ‘21 (Billy) said: “Definitely the cast. There were girls from grades 7-12. The most significant thing in any production is that it’s hard to gel together as a cast when there’s girls from middle school and high school. It’s easy to gravitate with your age group. The group chat we have really represents how this wasn’t the case for Big! There’s always eighth graders and seniors responding to each other. Even in our roles on stage, everyone sees each other as equals, and that’s something really special.”

The bond between all of the cast members was evident to anyone who watched the production. Every actor demonstrated that they loved their role and wanted to engage in the musical score and character dialogue with all of their best abilities. As anyone who has attended a Montrose production knows, Anna Sheehan ‘21 is a talented thespian — Big was her tenth Montrose show! When asked about what Billy and the musical taught her, she said: “I learned that it’s okay to be a kid…. Billy reminded me that I really don’t have to be an adult yet. At the end of the day, he’s a kid. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with who he is. Billy’s super resourceful — he solved all of Josh’s problems! He is responsible and smart, and he notices things around him…but he’s still a kid. I’m still sixteen. And that’s okay.”

In high school, we can sometimes feel like we are hyper-focused on the future — the kind of college we should attend, the kind of career we should seek, the kind of path we should trailblaze. Billy, Josh, and the beautiful circus of characters in Big remind Montrose to take a moment to slow down and appreciate that we don’t have to be “big” just yet.

This message was especially fitting for the Montrose community this week. As we enter into our first week of online classes and social distancing, it’s nearly impossible to succeed at wishing time away — things move much slower without a constant flow of things to do and places to be. Yet, in the end, this does not have to be a bad thing. Tom Hanks, who plays Josh Baskin in the original film version of Big, was tested positive for coronavirus last week. The virus will continue to spread in our own communities and could affect us or people we know. But even with the uncertainties of this time, we can learn to pause and appreciate where we are. 

The Montrose Players modeled how we can face these coming weeks — with courage, friendship, and, most importantly, a smile. The Looking Glass and the entire Montrose community wishes congratulations to the cast and crew of Big: The Musical!