Here is an example of the attitude director Steven Wilson wants for the Peabody-Burns High School musical.
He asked Nick Preheim, who plays flamboyant lumberjack Bill Woodcutter, if he had suspenders to augment his outfit. Preheim emphatically responded: “No, but I want some.”
To say the least, “The Big Bad Musical” is silly. Wilson wants his actors to have as much fun as possible portraying the classic fairy tale characters.
Senior Seth Topham plays the Big Bad Wolf who is standing trial for numerous crimes in the forest. For much of the show, Topham is tasked with reacting to a consistent procession of japes at his character’s expense. Think about some of the most ridiculous movie trials and you would have an idea for the courtroom atmosphere.
Seniors Paige Lewis and Kortney Foth play attorneys on opposite sides of the case. Lewis is the Fairy Godmother who represents Little Red Riding Hood, her grandmother, the three little pigs, and the Boy Who Cried Wolf. Each of the victims takes the witness stand to testify against the antagonist, with the three little pigs — played by April Newfield, Ashley Johnson, and Jordan Gibson — having one of the highlights.
“The writer made them morons,” Wilson said.
They have a song in the middle of their testimony, in which they admit to watching Walker Texas Ranger as the wolf blew their straw and stick houses down.
“Once I tried to pickle my own feet,” Newfield says during Foth’s cross examination.
Foth plays high-powered defense attorney Evil Stepmother. She calls Little Miss Muffet as a character witness for the wolf, but it does not do much to sway the cast. However, Evil Stepmother warms up to the Big Bad Wolf throughout the proceedings, mirroring the intended audience reaction.
The wolf admits he committed each crime early in an aside to his attorney, but as the wolf takes the stand at the end of the show to plead for his life, the crowd’s opinion of the wolf should be turning. This will be the most difficult task for Topham a five-year musical veteran who also had a big part in PBHS’s muscial last year, “Hello Dolly.”
“The audience would question whether the wolf was born bad or made that way,” Wilson said.
Lovers of musical numbers should not fret, the hour and half long show has seven bluesy sounding songs. Topham, Lewis, and The Boy Who Cried Wolf, seventh grader Chance Elliott, each have solos.
PBHS plans to hold two productions of “The Big Bad Musical,” the first at 7 p.m. Friday and the second at 3 p.m. Saturday.