BY RAEGAN NEUFELD
Excitement is in the air for the FHSU Music and Theatre department. For the first time in two years, students are able to once again display their acting and singing talents on the stage, this time in a production of “The Music Man.”
For many of the students, putting on the musical means finally getting back to doing what they love.
“It feels really good because last year I was doing nothing, and this year I’m doing everything. It just feels good because we’re all music people and we didn’t get to do any music. I’m getting to do my thing again,” senior Braydon Boyer said.
Boyer plays one of the lead characters, “The Music Man,” who is better known as Harold “Gregory” Hill. Playing opposite of Boyer is fellow senior Jenna Confer, who’s character is the town librarian and love interest of Harold Hill, Marian.
Confer, like Boyer, was also eager to be in another FHSU production, something she has been doing for her entire college career.
“It is absolutely incredible to be back on stage with all of some of my best friends,” she said, “I’ve been doing theatre, plays, musicals, and opera, with [some of these people] for four or five years now. So to be able to be back on stage singing, dancing, acting, and doing what we absolutely love most is the most incredible feeling ever.”
Confer also mentioned the uncertainty of last year, and how she wasn’t sure what the possibility of her doing another show was.
“Not being able to do productions last year was obviously challenging,” she said. “Challenging for not only students, but for everyone involved.”
Technical Director and Production Designer Carl Sage has been at Fort Hays since 2019.
“Understandably, everybody was frustrated. It provided an interesting challenge for me, because several of my classes are heavily oriented towards the production of the stage shows,” he said.
Sage’s students would normally help build sets or write a paper on one of the live shows.
“It’s very different to do theatre without doing theatre,” he said.
Director of Theatre Tomme Williams mentioned the students were able to do a couple of plays for themselves and family members to enjoy, but in her words, “The entire ordeal was an ordeal, no matter how you look at it.”
While Williams and Sage both share the students’ excitement about putting on a show again, they both noted how they are having to get used to the whole process again.
“Getting back into the groove has taken a little bit of effort, and getting used to all the time it takes,” Williams said.
Sage felt much the same.
“It’s a little odd, to be quite candid. It’s kind of like riding a bike, you know how to do it, but it’s different because all of a sudden it’s, ‘Hey, it’s real again,’” he said.
The realness of the opportunity is not lost to Boyer or Confer either.
“It’s like muscle memory trying to get back into it almost,” Boyer said.
This is the first time being one of the lead characters for Confer.
“It’s also kind of scary being the leader, like Braydon and I being in charge,” she said.
“The Music Man” is a familiar classic to many, telling the story of a con salesman, prepared to take the money of just another small town when he falls in love with the librarian.
When asked what their favorite part of being in the show was, the two leads both mentioned their fellow cast members.
“I have a lot of friends that are in the show with me,” Boyer said. “I’ve never been super close with Jenna, but she’s obviously my love interest in this show, so we’ve had to get more comfortable with each other. I’ve just never had the opportunity, so that’s really cool.”
According to Confer, this production has the biggest cast of any show she’s done since coming to Fort Hays.
“My favorite part has been working with such a wide variety of people,” Confer said. “Working with freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors has been really fun.”
Patrons can see this classic come to life at 7:30 on October 7, 8 and 9 and at 2:30 on October 10 on the Felton Start Theatre stage, which is housed in Malloy Hall.