The last time he was in a musical, Harper Pack played Admiral von Schreiber in “The Sound of Music.” at Robert E. Bell Middle School. He was in 7th grade.
“He didn’t sing, he didn’t dance and he had four lines, maybe,” Pack recalls with a laugh.
That’s a far cry from the title character in “Pippin,” the role Pack plays this weekend, in Horace Greeley High School’s senior musical.
Pippin, the son of Charlemagne, goes on a musical journey of exploration in Stephen Schwartz’s pop musical.
Each spring, the graduating seniors vote on the show they’d like to do – this year, the choices were “Pippin,” “Annie Get Your Gun” and “Good News.” The show is open to all seniors, including those who’ve never acted before.
Then for weeks they flock to the auditorium to be guided by Greeley’s theatrical guru, Chris Schraufnagel, “Schrauf” to all who know him.
Pack might not have the acting rÃ©sumÃ© of his pal Ted Caywood, who plays Charlemagne, but he is used to performing.
“I’m in an a capella group and chorus and the madrigal choir, so singing is where I feel most comfortable,” he says.
As Pippin, Pack sings “Corner of the Sky,” a hopeful anthem about finding a place to fit in.
“The music is not extraordinarily challenging, but it’s enjoyable music. None of it is painful to sing,” he says.
The acting is a challenge. “I tend to keep my emotions on the inside and tend to be very stoic, until I know someone,” he says.
“But Pippin is always open, very enthusiastic about what he wants to do. He’s either very high or very low. I’m more laid back.”
Pack wasn’t in Greeley’s all-school musicals, which come up every fall, because they conflicted with his busy wrestling schedule.
But he’s glad to be taking part now.
Dan Eckerle, 18, plays the Leading Player, the role made famous by Ben Vereen. He’s also involved in Greeley’s all-male a capella group, the Acafellas, which included skits, “but I never thought of doing a show like this.”
“For a first role, it’s pretty challenging,” Eckerle says. “It’s lots of lines, lots of singing, lots of dancing. And he’s a weird character, too. He’s not cut and dry.”
“Pippin is a kid looking for meaning, but the Leading Player is the narrator and he’s got a darker side, too,” he says.
“I completely underestimated the amount of work that goes into a musical,” Eckerle says. “I thought, ‘OK, you learn some lines, go up, sing a few numbers.’ But just the things you have to do to master a character, or even just to play one. When you sing, you’re singing with a certain tone. You’re acting while you’re singing. Your facial expressions, your blocking, your dancing. There’s a lot going on in your head at any given moment. It’s not as easy as it looks.”
“Looking back, I definitely wish I’d started earlier,” he says.
Max Bressman plays several characters, among them a newscaster and an enthusiastic orgy man – “It’s much better than playing a depressed orgy man,” he says.
A year-round tennis player, Bressman, a self-described “not-great singer,” hasn’t had time for musicals, but he’s up there on stage for his senior musical.
“I love all the eccentricities of it – wearing makeup and tights,” he says, adding with a laugh: “I mean, I like to be a manly man, but I like to wear tights every once in a while.”
Anna Samel, plays Catherine, Pippin’s love interest, a widow with a young son.
While Samel is a regular performer with Pleasantville’s Little Village Playhouse, this is her first high school musical.
The Greeley senior musical is a family tradition for Samel, whose older sisters were in past productions of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” and “Guys & Dolls.”
“We’ve always gone to see the senior musicals,” she says. Being in the show this year “is time-consuming, but a lot of fun.”
Where: Horace Greeley High School, 70 Roaring Brook Road, Chappaqua.
When: 7 p.m. April 10, 8 p.m. April 11, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. April 12.
With: Nicole Addonizio, Dana Adnopoz, Divya Agarwal, Tim Alamgir, John Amadeo, Valerie Anias, Emma Applebome, Manisha Apte, Kaitlin Atlas, Chelsea Baken, Maggie Beller, Katie Berman, Amanda Bilski, Emily Borgeest, Joe Breen, Max Bressman, Katie Brett, Matt Bronen, Hayley Cavagnolo, Ted Caywood, Dana Cheriff, Kenny Cowan, Alix Dobles, Stephen Donovan, Ian Drillinger, Sarah Drucker, Sarah Dutton, Dane Eckerle, Colin Erhardt, Samantha Ethridge, Bianca Fernandez, Lauren Ferrara, Christina Ferrari, Adam Fisher, Kevin Francese, David Fried, Daniel Fromm, Kate Fulop, Hilary Gerstein, Beth Gladstone, Pete Gonzales, Alex Gore, Catherine Grant, Hannah Greene, Kristen Guernier, Daniel Guillaro, Chelsea Gustasfon, Julia Haftel, Virginia Hall, Sebby Harris, Elana Hartman, Kyle Hartman, David Heinz, Laura Hertz, Laura Heymann, Katie Honig, Saki Isshiki, Anjorie Jhaveri, Evan Alexander Judson, Lexie Kadlec, Danny Kane, Sean Kane, Rebecca Kaplan, Johanna Katz, Cameron Kelly, Zara Khaleeli, Ben Kleinman, Gili Kliger, Hilary Knack, Jordana Kozupsky, Kathryn Krull, Adam Levine, Eric Levy, Mia Liang, Jen Lindelof, Julia Linsner, Emily Lubin, Colleen Maher, Hannah Mandel, Eric Mannarino, Laura Mantell, Eli Marino, Devin McCarthy, Cameron McElroy, Arielle Mellen, Rebecca Meyer, Victoria Migdal, Courtney Miller, Jaclyn Miller, Jordan Moskowitz, Michelle Myers, Matt Nadler, Cara Neufeld, Phae Nowak, Caroline O’Brien, Taryn Ocko, Matt Olonoff, Harper Pack, Mitesh Patel, Hillary Pearson, Alysia Perez-Hall, A.J. Perlin, Grace Pfisterer, Dennis Poggi, Eve Pollet, Michelle Pomar, Clayton Quicke, Jason Raylesberg, Emily Rhoda, Brett Rosenberg, Mike Rosenberg, Julian Rosenberg, Asher Rosenfeld, Elise Rubens, Melanie Rubin, Susannah Rudel, Anna Samel, Eri Sato, Stephanie Sauerhaft, Courtney Schneider, Jordyn Schneweiss, Jake Schonberger, Elizabeth Schrott, Tess Sherman, Lizzy Sieverding, Lara Slotnick, Ben Sonnenfeldt, Ariel Spade, Kimberly Stauber, Ian Steinberg, Connor Styles, Rachel Tabin, Julia Tanenbaum, Scott Topel, Rebecca Tulis, Alana Tung, Ryan Tunick, Laura Vazquez, Joanna Venditto, Victoria Vitale, Caitlin Walker, Sarah Weisbrod, Britany Weissman, Kelly Williams, Nicole Wolf, Josh Work, Aaron Yormak, Jon Zaidins, David Zaidins, Paige Zeitz, Julia Zinberg