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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Brighton High thespians to bring holiday magic with ‘White Christmas’ performance

Oct 10, 2023 03:11PM ● By Julie Slama

Brighton High thespians are seen here at their first rehearsal of “White Christmas,” which will be performed early winter. (Photo courtesy of Sophia Magleby)

This December, when the tree tops glisten and children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow, may the days be merry and bright and head to Brighton High where “White Christmas” will be performed by Brighton thespians.

“I love ‘White Christmas,’” Brighton theatre director Makayla Conner said. “I grew up watching it. It was a big part of my childhood. We have not done a classical musical in almost 10 years and some of the cast didn’t know ‘White Christmas,’ but a lot of parents were excited when it was announced. The kids watched it and loved it so they’re looking forward to performing it—and, we’re going to make it snow. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

The show will open at 7 p.m., Nov. 30. The production continues at 7 p.m., Dec. 1 as well as at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Dec. 2 on the school stage, 2220 Bengal Blvd. Tickets are $6 for seniors and veterans and for all others, $8. Tickets are available at and at the door while tickets are available.

Conner wants her students to learn several different forms of theater. The past few years, students have performed more modern shows.

“The music in ‘White Christmas’ is fun; it’s jazzy. I want the student to get a chance to perform a classic at least once while in high school. I want them to get experience with some different genres than the shows we’ve been doing,” she said. “We also want our students to grow in their dancing skills so this will help them get more experience.”

About 90 students are involved in the show from 60 on stage to others who perform in the orchestra pit and are part of stage crew. In addition, middle schoolers from Butler and Albion will join in the chorus. A special guest appearance will be made by art teacher Derek Chandler, who is a U.S. Army veteran.

“With the show, ornaments can be donated throughout the run and we’ll add them to an artificial tree that will be in our lobby during the show. When the show’s over, the kids are planning to visit the veterans’ home and give the tree to them, which ties into the show and gives our students a chance to give to our community,” Conner said.

The show follows 44 Bengals taking part in the 47th annual Shakespeare high school competition Oct. 5-7 in Cedar City. The thespians will take the stage to perform a condensed version of “Richard III” and students will perform individually or in small groups with pieces from “Gentlemen of Verona,” “Measure for Measure,” “Henry VIII,” “Henry VI, Part 2” and ““Coriolanus.” Additionally, 25 students will compete in the dance contest with a piece based on “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

As well as competing, the student group will see Utah Shakespeare Festival performances of William Shakespeare’s “Coriolanus” and “Twelfth Night.”

Following their competition, there will be a free hour-long Shakespeare showcase of the drama and dance pieces at 7 p.m., Oct. 9 at the school.

In the spring, the students will compete at the region contest with the play, “Rabbit Hole” by David Lindsay-Abaire. It received the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for drama.

“The play centers around the grieving process and how people grieve differently. In the play, the husband has a very attached style, wanting to hold on while his wife is wanting to move on as best as she can. So, there’s a conflict between the couple about how grieve and what’s healthy for each of them,” Conner said. “It’s a very dramatic piece.”

Their one-act region competition is March 12, 2024 and a second day, students will take 24 pieces to perform individually or in small groups. 

Afterward on March 14-16, they’ll perform their one-act and the region individual events for the community in their Black Box Theatre. Tickets will be $8.

State will be April 13, 2024 with about 300 students competing at Brighton High.

Their spring play is “Puffs” or “Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic.” The 2015 play written by New York playwright Matt Cox is a parody of the Harry Potter book series by J. K. Rowling, but from the perspective of the "Puffs,” Conner said.

“It’s Harry’s first year of Hogwarts, but you’re following the Hufflepuffs instead of the three Gryffindors. So we’re seeing everything from the lens of the kids who are a little goofy and quirky and don’t really get a lot of attention. It plays on the whole story of Harry Potter, but there’s an underlying sense of self-worth and learning who you are and accepting who you are. It goes through all seven books and each of our actors will play at least two different roles throughout the whole show,” she said.

While the names may be changed or not used, the story is easy to follow.

“It interchanges between Potter and Harry or Mr. Potter and it’s Weasley or Ron; they kind of just use one or the other, but not both together. The house names are changed to Braves, Smarts and Snakes and Puffs,” Conner said. “The show is very popular, especially with the high schoolers right now.”

“Puffs” will be performed May 2-4, 2024 in the Black Box Theatre. Tickets will be $8.

In addition, Brighton’s 10-member improv team will hold two shows this year.

“Improv is very popular right now. The format of improv is more team oriented. In the show, students are playing a game, so kids feel more comfortable in this form of theater because they don’t have to memorize anything, and they make it up as they go. It’s more of a play environment,” she said.

Their shows will be 7 p.m., Dec. 8 and 7 p.m., May 10, 2024 in the Black Box Theatre. Tickets are $5. λ