Students assist in “Big Fish: The Musical” premiere


Carly Kinning

Stage manager, senior Rylee Keith takes attendance of cast members March 9 at their rehearsal at Des Moines Onstage. Adolescent Anarchy’s production of “Big Fish: The Musical” is set to premiere in May 1-10 at Grand View University.

Erin Bockenstedt, Staff Writer

Choir students at the high school have switched to another stage and are leading the first production in Iowa of “Big Fish: The Musical” through Des Moines Onstage. “[The statewide premiere] is very exciting,” senior Meredith Toebben said. “‘Big Fish’ is a well known movie so we knew people would come because they enjoyed the film, but it’s also a show we can make our own. We have a lot of faith in ourselves.”

Toebben is the music director of the production. Her job requires her to work with single cast members as well as the ensemble in order to make sure that parts are being sang properly. “I have to go through every part and make sure each person is stable on the harmony that they’re singing,” Toebben said. “In this process, it should be pretty easy, we have an amazing cast.”

She is a founding and current member of the teen theater group Adolescent Anarchy, who was looking for a cast of kids and some adults. “We are mostly looking for people who don’t mind testing their limits and creating a re-imagined product,” Toebben said.

The production is mostly made up of members from Adolescent Anarchy and will provide it’s own spin on the story. “We have new symbolic meanings,” Toebben said. “We analyze the script a lot and we make sure we have our own meaning for it.”

She said it is important to realize that members of Adolescent Anarchy have proved themselves to be responsible in the theater. “I think the fact that we have obtained a reputation for being professional and successful in our products convinces adults that working with us won’t be any different than working with an adult director,” she said.

The production makes the space provided for them as useful as possible. “We have catwalks [above the stage],” Toebben said. “We have the idea to lower a lot of the set stuff from there to incorporate the imagination into real life, [although] there’s a separation of the real life and the imagination.”

Also on the production is senior Rylee Keith who is working as stage manager. “I’m kind of the planner,” Keith said. “I have to make sure everyone is there and then we get to blocking.” Blocking is keeping track of the actors’ movements on stage.

Keith also did not express nervousness about the premiere. “It pushes us to do better because we are the first ones bringing [“Big Fish”] to Iowa,” she said. “I enjoy working with new people outside of school and the talent is unreal with this cast.”

The musical will premiere May 1-10 through the Des Moines Young Artists’ Theatre at Grand View University.