Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jennifer Simms

New music teacher makes NHS directing debut


November 5, 2016

Photo by Jennifer Simms NHS students (from left) Anna Hadjyannis, Joanna Turner, Anna Weingartner, Liv Kunik and Chantal King rehearse a scene from their upcoming musical, “Into the Woods,” directed by Erin Anderson and Niwot’s new vocal music teacher, Laura Marshall.

New teachers often inherit a treasure from their predecessors -a desk, a set of text books, maybe a syllabus. This fall Niwot High School (NHS) vocal music teacher Laura Marshall inherited an entire musical, the fall production of the popular Sondheim musical, “Into the Woods.” And she’s loving it.

“The students auditioned back in the spring,” Erin Anderson, the play’s musical director said. Kimberly Watkins, who moved to Altona Middle School this fall, helped select the cast.

“The students were given music over the summer and told to learn as much as they could—and they did,” Marshall said. “The musical is not easy and they really did their homework. They’re enthusiastic about it and came knowing what they’re doing.”

Though new to NHS, Marshall is not new to musical theater. She directed musicals and plays as part of her previous position in Gilcrest, where she split time between Valley High School and Gilcrest Elementary. In addition, she has performed scenes of “Into the Woods” as part of her college course work and served as a company manager intern for a production of the show in Pittsburgh.

The NHS production does present Marshall with one new challenge. “I’ve never directed with a double cast,” she said. “That’s been a cool change. Both casts are doing incredibly. That’s one of the things that excites me the most—both are equally ambitious and skilled. I could tell just from day one that they’re having fun with it, and their dedication is great.”

Of course, Marshall and Anderson, who was new to NHS just last year, have put their own unique twist on the production. “I think this production will be different than others you may have seen, in that we really focus on the parallel of sometimes life is a perfect fairytale and sometimes we have to deal with giants, but through it all we keep going, hopefully keeping our sense of humor,” Anderson said. “This show actually has a lot of funny moments that are usually lost on other productions. I think our show uses those comedic moments to help keep the action moving forward.”

Students in this year’s cast report that the transition to Marshall as the new musical director has gone smoothly. “She takes enough time to pay attention to everyone individually,” Lulu Labbe, an NHS senior who is both an actress and costume designer for the show, said.

“She’s amazing and very patient with everyone,” Kate Pardoe, a sophomore, agreed.

Marshall will make her NHS directing debut with performances of “Into the Woods” on Nov. 10, 11, and 12 at 7 p.m., and on Nov. 13 at 2 p.m. Tickets at the door are $15 (cash or check only) or $10 in advance by calling 303-652-2550.


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