Have you ever imagined in a fever dream your teachers singing disco songs, speaking in exaggerated accents and breaking out into dynamic choreography?
Well, students at Gunn High School don’t have to imagine: They can see it with their own eyes, in the school’s yearly choir and staff musical.
The 25th annual choir and staff musical took place in Spangenberg theater on Tuesday and Wednesday, marking the fourth performance of “Totally Gone With the Wind,” a one-of-a-kind show based on “The Producers” and scenes from “Gone With the Wind.” In addition to fun twists on popular disco songs, the show also featured approximately 40 teacher participants alongside student performers.
“It all got started because … a Gunn parent … started writing scripts for the choir,” said William Liberatore, Gunn choir director of 33 years. “Even years before it was a choir staff musical, she wrote scripts, and the choir would do these silly plays as a way to entertain people. In ‘97, we said, ‘Let’s throw teachers in it and see if we can get something going.’”
Since then, choir and staff musicals have become a highlight of the choir music program.
“It’s a really great way to get involved with something else on campus and connect with the community outside of classes,” said math teacher Daniel Hahn. “For teachers, it’s really fun because we get to just come in and we don’t have to practice very much.”
Teachers chose varying levels of commitment: Some had minor parts in musical numbers, while others took on more extensive roles in the musical.
“When I first came to Gunn, for my first choir show, I just did a song,” said band director Todd Summers, who played nerdy assistant Milo Kraft. “One song. I learned choreography; I don’t even think I sang. The next year, [Liberatore] needed a clarinet player, and I played clarinet. The next year I did a little bit more, so I kind of just eased my way into it.”
The performances were a memorable experience for students and teachers alike.
“When I was on stage, I was just having the time of my life,” said freshman Irene Wang, a member of Gunn’s treble choir. “I didn’t really care if I messed up at that point. I think [the performance] went amazing.”
Senior Carter Jaquette, who played upbeat choreographer Donny Oswald, expressed similar sentiments.
“I think it was a fantastic display of teachers acting alongside students and a very wild, shock-filled show,” he said. “It felt amazing getting to sing and dance in front of my school again. I think it was even better considering how supportive the crowd was when I was stepping out of my comfort zone getting into the dress.”
In addition to choir and staff participants, Gunn stage tech students, students from nearby Jane Lathrop Stanford and Fletcher middle schools and numerous parent volunteers were also involved in the musical.
“[My favorite part] is just bringing so many different parts of our Gunn community into the same room,” said Liberatore. “It’s crazy to attempt something with so many people, so many different moving parts. I think [the cohesiveness was] what was so great. The student numbers, the staff numbers, the jokes with the actors — I thought everything clicked. The energy was terrific throughout.”
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