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‘Me and My Girl’ to hit the stage at North Hills High School

njmusical031617
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Eleanore Pavelle, as the Duchess, and Will Huffmyer, as Bill Snibson, rehearse a sceen for North Hills Musical 'Me and My Girl' on March 8, 2017.
njmusical2031617
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Will Huffmyer, Connor Hoffman and Brandon Hackminer rehearse a scene to prepare for the North Hills Musical 'Me and My Girl' on March 8, 2017.

Glen Richey has been directing the musicals at North Hills High School for the past 30 years.

“We’ve done so many different shows. Last year, we did ‘Cinderella.’ Before that, we did ‘Footloose’ and ‘42nd Street,’ ” he said. “Some shows we’ve done twice.”

This year, he wanted to try something new.

So he turned to something old.

And something a little less familiar to audiences.

“Me and My Girl” is a musical that debuted in London in 1937, then was revived on Broadway in 1986 for a three-year run. It was nominated for 13 Tony Awards and won three – Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Choreography.

“Me and My Girl” tells the story of an unapologetically unrefined cockney named Bill Snibson, who learns that he is the 14th heir to the Earl of Hareford. Before he can acquire his inheritance, however, he must first learn gentlemanly ways and find a suitable woman to marry.

“It’s tough to find a show that nobody’s seen but is still good,” Richey, a McCandless resident, explained. “This one’s a make-no-sense musical comedy. The kids really like it.”

The musical features a cast of 41, plus lots of singing and dancing.

Will Huffmyer, an 18-year-old senior who plays the leading role of Bill Snibson, had never heard of “Me and My Girl,” and did not know what to expect.

As rehearsals continued, his appreciation for the show increased.

“It’s a lot of fun. It’s upbeat. It’s a very funny show with lots of one-liners,” he said.

“The more we get into it, the more we see it’s one of Broadway’s hidden treasures,” added senior Natalie Just, 18, who plays the lead role of Sally Smith, Bill Snibson’s girlfriend.

According to Richey, slipping into character has been one of the biggest challenges for the cast.

“Everything’s exaggerated. Some of the students play low-class cockneys while others play sophisticated aristocrats. Do you know of any teenagers who are sophisticated?” he said. “We’re trying to teach them.”

One of the cast’s favorite aspects of the show is the tap dancing, a skill the students began learning last summer during lessons with the musical’s choreographer, Lauren Sarazen, 29, of West View.

“I love the big dance numbers. It’s fun, energetic musical theater,” Just said.

An orchestra is comprised of 22 student-musicians who perform 17 songs.

Richey said he is glad he chose a less-known musical this year.

“I encourage people to come see a show they’ve never seen before. We didn’t know much about it ourselves when we began rehearsals, but we’ve discovered something new about it every day,” he said. “It’s fun to do something new.”

Tickets can be purchased in the activities and athletics office in the high school on weekdays until March 22, from 1 to 3 p.m. Additional ticket sales dates March 11, from 9:30 a.m. to noon in the high school auditorium lobby, and March 14, from 6 to 7 p.m. in the middle school lobby. If available, tickets also will be sold at the door.

Laurie Rees is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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