“Band Geeks” takes a poignant look at the quirks of those on the fringes of high school society, with a heartwarming reminder to look past stereotypes.
The musical, presented by the Pittsburg High School Theatre Department, is filled with larger-than-life characters that will tug at the heartstrings of every former high school student.
“It’s no secret, it’s been around since the beginning of time, that schools have cliques,” Director Greg Shaw said. “You can take these stereotypes, have fun with them, and still have a really great message in the end.”
And PHS’ “Band Geeks” does just that.
With numbers and funds both dwindling, Cuyahoga Falls band members, led by Elliott (Derek Brumbaugh) are despairing. They aren’t good, and situations aren’t looking any better.
“My character is the epitome of the band geek, so it’s basically him trying to get the rest of the band together,” Brumbaugh said.
Brumbaugh does so with the moral support of his best friend Laura (Olivia Joy), but is not pleased when Jake (Jack Warring), a troubled football player who was kicked off his former team, transfers to Cuyahoga High and is assigned to the band’s ranks.
“Obviously, right off the bat he doesn’t want to be in the band at all,” Brumbaugh said. “He gets forced into the band.”
As he reluctantly takes part, Jake is coached by Laura at Elliott’s request, and stuns everyone when he nails a drum solo at the big game against his former high school.
“Jake ends up being the star of the band with drumming,” Joy said.
This doesn’t go over well with Elliott, who has spent years waiting to lead the band and star in its performances.
Meanwhile, each character finds him or herself immersed in daily struggles typical to a high school student.
Spitz (Will Jewett) and Natalia (Makayla Bockover), battle over trumpet techniques, Stewart (Jared Wilde) struggles with being bullied, Mr. Hornsby (Andrew Ortolani) battles principal Ms. Dixon (Cassie Hurt-McLarty) for funding for the band while wishing he could fulfill his dream of writing a composition.
And on and on the stories go, with lives twisting and turning as each character learns more about the others, ending with some sweet revelations that should be a surprise for almost all audience members.
“No one has seen it. It’s a relatively new piece,” Shaw said. “It’s fun sometimes to do a ‘Guys and Dolls’ but it’s equally fun to do a show where 99 percent of the audience has no idea what they’re getting into.”
The show is family friendly, complete with high-energy, catchy music, performed by members of the PHS Jazz Band, and is of the quality that audiences have come to expect in a performance at Pittsburg High School.
“We try very hard to entertain, but also to bring a high quality,” Shaw said.
Cast members include Derek Brumbaugh (Elliott), Jack Warring (Jake), Olivia Joy (Laura), Will Jewett (Spitz), Makayla Bockover (Natalia), Jared Wilde (Stewart), Alli Baden (Nicole), Will Schindler (Alvin), Maddie Weidert (Molly), Derrick Sumner (Kyle); Andrew Ortolani (Mr. Hornsby), Cassie Hut-McLarty (Ms. Dixon), Maddy Emerson (Joyce), Coral VanBecelaere (Jamie), Aspen Lloyd (Jordan), Lydia Winters (Jessie), Macy Frasco (Jackson), Maddie Baden (Maggie), Alexis Daniels (Minnie), Taylor Redd (Millie), Hailey Denton (Felicia), Liz Graham (Valerie), Emma Stalnaker (Phyllis), Natalie Harris (Tonya) and Angela Ortega (April)
Production staff are Greg Shaw (director), Susan Laushman (vocal music director), Maggie Stephens and Mollie Stephens (choreographers), Chuck Boyles (technical director), Anita White (program/poster, Jon Commons (lighting design/stage manager), Miranda Madden (sound board operator), Abby Wilson (light board operator), Ethan Jewell, Evie Shawn, Rachel Ruiz, Susan Caffrey, Reagan Wood, Taylor Plain, Autumn Lindsay-Gaikowski, Jadrien Reece and Devin Coulter (construction/deck crew).
Pit band members are Cooper Neil (instrumental music director), Susan Laushman (voice music director/piano, Reyna Valenzuela (piccolo), Kristen Geiger, Amanda Hoffman and Alexandrine Perkins (flute), Izzy Lunday (clarinet), Ryan Amick (reeds), Kayte Keller (bari sax), Sebastian Johns and Alex Madl (trumpet), Christian Adams and Hannah Oertle (trombone), Cameron Lee (tuba), Zach Uttley (electric bass) and Ethan Ortiz (drums).