Jane Austen novel comes to life on stage

Drama club earned $4,000 in first weekend of show



Emma, played by PHS senior Keva Shull, struggles to understand what love is in the play, ‘Emma: A Pop Musical,’ on Friday night at Pullman High School.

MADYSEN MCLAIN, Evergreen roots editor

Pop culture music filled the theater as the Pullman High School Drama Club began their performance of “Emma” a colorful pop culture story based on Jane Austen’s novel.

The club performed for six showtimes at 7 p.m. on Nov. 8, 9, 15 and 16. The club also held shows at 2 p.m. on Nov. 15 and 16.

Andrew Mielke, musical director of the show and PHS teacher, said more than 50 students were involved in the production of “Emma: A Pop Musical.” Students managed the sound system, built the sets and acted.

The drama club has experienced huge growth since its beginning four years ago and seven shows later, Mielke said. Only four guys auditioned for the first show when the play needed four guys in the cast, there were no extras. This year, every part is double cast.

“The big thing I’ve instilled in this program is success breeds success,” he said.

The opening weekend made about $4,000 in ticket sales. The cost to put on the production totaled to about $5,000, which included about $2,500 for the rights of the musical and $2,000 for costumes, Mielke said.

He has his eyes set for “The Beauty and the Beast” as the next production, he said. The PHS Drama Club will perform two musicals and one play this year. The club normally only does two productions a semester.

Hunter Clark, PHS senior cast as Frankie Churchill the pop star stud, started his drama career during sixth grade in the Missoula Children’s Theatre when he was forced to try it out.

“I figured out that I actually did enjoy being on the stage and acting out characters,” Clark said.

He said the music is different than other musicals because it features modern pop music, such as “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston and “Man! I Feel Like A Woman” by Shania Twain which presented a challenge when the club was obtaining rights to the musical.

Clark said he will attend the Evergreen State College to study political science in the fall.

Michael Woodall, employee for Canopy Salon in Moscow, and three other salon employees said they came to support Clark’s musical performance. Clark has gotten his hair cut at the Canopy Salon since he was 13.

PHS senior Maegan Presley was cast as Emma, a high school girl obsessed with matchmaking. She said the cast practiced every day after school for two hours starting at the beginning of the school year.

Presley, performing in her second production, played the female lead for the opening weekend on Friday and Saturday.

“We did super well,” she said. “We did better than I was expecting.”

Presley said the cast handled all the bumps in the road well. On Saturday, the sound system cut out during a song and everyone played it off as if nothing had happened.

She wants to pursue a career in music education after graduation.

“Music is something I love and the music teachers in my life have influenced me in a positive way,” Presley said.