The start of this week’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament may be all hoop fans have been thinking of, but there’s another sort of March Madness that is well under way, and it’s much closer to home.
This week has been circled on high-school-theater-fan calendars across the Lower Hudson Valley for months, as 20 musicals enter the final stretch before opening night.
This is “Production Week,” sometimes called “Tech Week,” often called “Hell Week.” At most schools, that means long cue-to-cue rehearsals, when weeks of work by student actors, musicians and technicians coalesces into a high school musical.
Eight schools open their musicals on Thursday, meaning their production week is condensed.
Whether it comes on Wednesday or Thursday, the final dress rehearsal will be a time to iron out those wrinkles, to master set changes, to perfect costume changes, to polish cadenzas and to time out the lighting cues.
Sound technicians will chart entrances and exits to get the right levels on body mics, so the actors and actresses can be heard.
Stage managers will fret over which actors are standing in the wings, and whether they might just be better off in the green room and not in the way of the stage crew.
On the other side of the footlights, grandmothers and grandfathers will arrive to take it all in, florists will be called for an opening-night bouquet, costumes will be checked and fidgeted with. Hair will be set, toyed with, sprayed to within an inch of its life.
As the orchestras tune up, with minutes to go before this monumental event in the lives of these kids, directors — from Flori Doyle at Ardsley to Christina DeFeo in Suffern — will gather their casts for a final thought and hand the show over to their stage managers for the anticipation-laden words: “Places, please.”
The houselights will dim, the audience will hush and the overture will begin, the journey from “Hell Week” to musical-theater heaven at an end.
As for what will fill those 20 stages, it runs the gamut from the fantastical to the realistic, with plenty in between.
Blind Brook High School has “All Shook Up,” a jukebox musical that somehow simultaneously satisfies fans of Elvis Presley and William Shakespeare. (See story, video here.)
In Ardsley, the wickedly fun satire “Urinetown the Musical” borrows heavily from the Broadway canon and fires a shot over the bow of corporations, community organizers and people who follow either side. (See release here.)
At Brewster High, the box social awaits for the territory folks in the Rodgers & Hammerstein classic, “Oklahoma!” (See photo, info here.)
At Carmel High, Shoeless Joe Hardy is in the on-deck circle for “Damn Yankees.”
All Babe wants is a 7 1/2-cent raise — and all Sid Sorokin wants is Babe — in “The Pajama Game” at Edgemont High School in Scarsdale. (See story, video here.)
They’re readying the barricade as students and soldiers draw battle lines in “Les Miserables” at Suffern High School. (See story, video here.)
The Oompa Loompas are ready to dish out some Wonkian lessons to a few bratty kids in Tuckahoe’s “Willy Wonka, the Musical.” (See story, video here.)
A few musicals are on multiple stages this weekend.
At Woodlands High School in Hartsdale and at Valhalla High School, a nun-turned-governess falls in love with an Austrian captain — and his seven children — in “The Sound of Music.” (See Woodlands story and video here. See Valhalla story and video here.)
The kids from Rydell High ride high in two productions of “Grease!” this weekend, at Briarcliff and Hendrick Hudson high schools. (See HenHud story and video here. See Briarcliff story and video here.)
“Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” — the tale as old as time featuring a pretty French girl who dreams of more than a provincial life — graces the stages at Fox Lane High School in Bedford and Yorktown High School. (See Fox Lane story, video, here. See Yorktown story, video, here.)
Dobbs Ferry stacks the mattresses and fills the moat for Princess Winnifred the Woebegone in the bright “Once Upon a Mattress.” (See info, cast list, here.)
Haldane High School finds out what happens after “they lived happily ever after” in Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s “Into the?Woods.” (See release, photo, here.)
Ramapo presents “Fame,” about fiercely talented teens who face obstacles at a performing-arts high school. (See cast list, times here.)
Dorothy leaves Toto back in Kansas as she and the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion ease on down the road in “The Wiz” at Clarkstown High School South. (See story, video here.)
Annie Oakley is convinced she can outshoot, outsing and even outspit Frank Butler in Irving Berlin’s “Annie Get Your Gun” at Croton-Harmon High School. (See story, video here.)
At Pelham Memorial High School, it’s time for the prom — “Zombie Prom” — the story of a girl, the boy who loves her, and an unfortunate dive into a nuclear power plant. (See story, video here.)
Tappan Zee High School presents “Cabaret,” the story of Sally Bowles and an Emcee who’s not who he appears to be, in a gritty nightclub in an even grittier Berlin between the wars. (See story, video here.)