‘Big Fish’ Cast & Crew Prepares for a Big Weekend

Final ‘tech week’ rehearsals bring the show together leading up to opening night


Matisse Arnone

Whit Jury ’23 and Jared Moninger ’23 rehearse a scene from ‘Big Fish’

Matisse Arnone

The final bell rings to dismiss students from seventh period. Students are seen rushing to their lockers to grab their stuff before heading home. However, for Whit Jury ‘23, the end of the school day signals the start of a busy musical rehearsal. Jury has been doing theater productions for more than seven years starting with community theater, and this year, he plays the lead role in City High’s musical Big Fish.

“[Musical productions] usually get off on a little bit of a bumpy start, but once we get into a group, things really start to come together. I think that this show is going to turn out really, really well,” Jury said.

Troy Peters, who is the director of the drama program, is also excited to perform the show in front of audiences after a long period of preparation. 

“We’ve never done [a production] this far back in the year so we’ve had plenty of prep time,” Peters said. “It’s kind of exciting because we’ve been working on this for three months now. It’s really crunch time. We don’t have a day off now until the show is over.”

Eva Stadtlander ‘22 has relied heavily on her past experience in City High drama productions to help her with her role of stage manager in the musical this year.

“My past experience has really helped me in knowing how the show should be coming together and what needs to be done in order for that to happen,” Stadtlander said. “Whether that be in rehearsals and what pace you should be keeping and how well people should know their lines, or what goes on for the tech side of a show. It’s allowing me to think about that through the rehearsals leading up to actually working with tech people “

Despite the combined decades of experience between all of the cast and crew, Jury thinks that the pandemic has still had an effect on this year’s production. He describes that adjustments have had to be made, especially in physicality within the cast.

“Being gone for so long from doing this, everyone feels a little bit rusty. We’re all trying to get back into the groove of it,” Jury said. “This year, in particular, I feel like we’ve had a little bit slower of a start.”

In addition to these issues, Peters also believes that mental health has been a challenge that much of the cast has been facing this year.

“I think there’s quite a bit of stress that a lot of the actors are under, and we’re seeing more people have difficulty with that,” Peters said. “I think everybody’s had to kind of step it up and kind of relearn our schedule and work on getting past some of these challenges.”

One challenge that often plagues theatre productions is the nerves that come from the pressure of performance. Jury has felt that, particularly so this year with his role.

“It’s a little scary because this is my first lead role. I hope I can do a good job with it,” Jury said. “It’s nerve-wracking because I’ve been doing this for so long. I’ve never been given this vital of a role.”

Throughout these challenges, Stadtlander has seen the cast continue to improve and rise to the occasion.

“It’s really cool to see how well the ensemble actors are starting to learn what they need to do on stage because as an ensemble character, you’re not given specific lines and specific movements you need to do. It is up to you and it’s your responsibility to create this scene around the leads and you have to tell a story without saying any words usually,” Stadtlander said.

Peters is looking forward to getting a large audience of all ages to come and see the musical.

“I’m excited to get some good-sized crowds since we had that slump there with COVID and Matilda in the last year,” Peters said. “I’m hoping people are going to show up. It’s a family-friendly show.”

Jury wants people to set aside their preconceived notions they may have about the show and come prepared for a touching story.

“Despite the name, it is not a musical about fishing. Even if it is in Alabama and some people have a southern accent, two things [that can] be turn-offs for some people, it’s not that at all,” Jury said.

In addition to some of those plot elements, Peters wants to encourage incoming audiences to take note of the timeline of the story.

“The story has a tendency to flashback and then move forward very quickly, so I want people to understand what’s going on,” Peters said. “It might be confusing at times, but we’re doing our best to tell the story in a meaningful and an understandable way.”

Jury has faith that the show will pull together and turn into something that everyone involved will be confident and proud in.

“I’m most excited to have this feeling that I always do at the middle to the end of tech week and start of the show: that feeling and the sense that things are starting to be complete,” Jury said. “I know we’re gonna get there. I’m excited to have it.”