Musical Theater at Neighboring Schools: A Director’s Experience


Patrick Keeble (pictured) during one of his own performances during his earlier years in high school.

Charlie Princing, Writer

Musical Theater is an important part of the culture in Emerson Jr/Sr High School. Now, students of EJSHS know this well, but how well do we know about the experiences of the schools surrounding us? Patrick Keeble, a senior at Northern Highlands Regional High School, was entrusted with the responsibility and privilege of directing the freshman show at his school, and has a lot to say about the importance of this role as well as the ups and downs of his experience. Follow along as we conduct a short interview with Pat in the following article:

Q: How do you feel the hours you’ve been putting into this project has affected your academic year?

A: As a senior in the second half of the school year, it wasn’t affecting my academic year nearly as much as you might expect. While rehearsals tended to be long (and only got longer the closer we got to opening night), I usually found myself going home for the day to work on more stuff for the show. Not because I was putting off doing my homework, but because there wasn’t much work in my classes anyway. TLDR: It wasn’t bad.

Q: Can you describe to me the most challenging part of taking on the role as director?

A:  The most challenging part of directing was all the planning that had to go into each rehearsal. Before anything happens, we had to know who would be available and when. Then, the schedule could be made, planning certain scenes based on who would come on what days. It was easier to do this than go chronologically most times, since with spring sports we often had key actors missing. Alongside the scheduling, of course, we’d have to determine what the blocking of scenes would be (who stands where, and when). I distinctly remember the day we learned we couldn’t just wing it, the day we ended rehearsal early just for me and my co-director to figure out a chase and fight scene. But as we got further into the process, we got better and better at what we did.

Q: And the most rewarding part?

A: The week-long buildup to the opening show night was the most anxious I’ve felt in a while. But the payoff was all worth it watching that first show. It was my first show in a long time that I’ve been able to be in the audience for in my high school career, and I loved every moment of it. One of the best compliments we got was that people forgot that the actors were all Freshman, which was amazing! With all the effort we put in, we wanted to make sure people know this was not just the “Freshman” show, but rather a second musical this year, and we accomplished that.

Q: Would you do it again if given the opportunity? Why or why not?

A:   It’s still too soon. Doing a show to any capacity, whether on a stage or not is a bit like giving birth. It starts out and you’re getting all the pieces together and thinking, “this is going to be so much fun!” The, the more you work at it, you’re starting to feel like “I can’t wait for htis to be over.” Of course, during show week, you’re so stressed out, you think, “I’m NEVER going to do this ever again!” But after you give it some time, you feel that maybe it wasn’t SO bad. And the cycle repeats itself. So probably yes, but I’m still getting over this.

Overall, Keeble noted, the experience was certainly a rewarding one. He talked a lot about how satisfying it was to see the culmination of his hard work come together, and to witness the audience reactions. 

Keeble remarks, “I’m proud of the kids, and proud of the work we did. I’m really happy and impressed with how much effort was put in by all participants.”