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This weekend, the Juneau community has the opportunity to witness the Juneau-Douglas High School Theatre Spring Production perform “Whistling Down the Wind,” a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber that contrasts the relentless influence of the modern world with the traditional values of the old days in Louisiana during the 1950’s.
“Whistling Down the Wind” comes to Juneau 051017 AE 1 Ray Friedlander, For the Capital City Weekly This weekend, the Juneau community has the opportunity to witness the Juneau-Douglas High School Theatre Spring Production perform “Whistling Down the Wind,” a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber that contrasts the relentless influence of the modern world with the traditional values of the old days in Louisiana during the 1950’s.

JDHS theatre students rehearse for “Whistling Down the Wind” on Friday, May 5. Photo by Ray Friedlander.


JDHS theatre students rehearse for “Whistling Down the Wind” on Friday, May 5. Photo by Ray Friedlander.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Story last updated at 5/9/2017 - 3:59 pm

“Whistling Down the Wind” comes to Juneau

Louisiana, 1959: a small town has come together to capture a criminal wandering the streets. Known as “The Man,” the bitter outlaw settles upon a barn to hide himself, only to be discovered by the town youth. When pressed to know his name, the stranger introduces himself as Jesus Christ and thus the innocent children begin the journey of counting their blessings and exposing the different layers of humanity that comprise a community.

This weekend, the Juneau community has the opportunity to witness the Juneau-Douglas High School Theatre Spring Production perform “Whistling Down the Wind,” a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber that contrasts the relentless influence of the modern world with the traditional values of the old days in Louisiana during the 1950’s.

“The whole idea of this man who has never known love getting drowned by unconditional love from all these children, and watching his transformation because of it, is a spectacular thing to see,” JDHS theatre teacher and musical director Michaela Moore said. “I think the audience will be reminded that everyone is worth something. Everyone. No matter what your story is, no matter what you’ve done, no matter what you’ve been through — you are worth love. Everyone is worth love. That is the best gift we give to others and is the best gift we receive from others.”

For the Juneau arts scene, this musical production will be pulling together local talent from the Thunder Mountain High School Band and the Alaska Youth Choir while bringing a JDHS alumnus back to the stage. Aaron Badilla was a JDHS student from 2004-2009 and went on to graduate with his master’s in musical theatre from the Boston Conservatory. He is portraying “The Man” in “Whistling Down the Wind,” but to Moore, she remembers Badilla as the main lead in “Jekyll and Hyde” and “Les Miserables”when he attended JDHS almost a decade ago.

“I started doing theatre here when I was a junior and it’s what I do now for my career,” said Badilla. “[JDHS] definitely planted the seeds for me to do more theatre.”

When asked how he prepared to get into character as “The Man,” Aaron referenced music.

“For this production, I made a playlist that speaks to the character and informs the feeling of the show,” Badilla said.

One song that audience members can listen to in preparation for the musical is “When You Were Young” by the Killers, picked by Aaron because of the song’s lyric “he doesn’t look a thing like Jesus but he talks like a gentleman.”

JDHS theatre students will be using proceeds raised by the musical to attend the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland. According to the website, Fringe is the “single biggest celebration of arts and culture on the planet.” In 2016, there were 50,266 performances of 3,269 shows in 294 venues with performance types ranging from theatre, comedy, dance, physical theatre, circus, cabaret, children’s shows, musicals, opera, music, spoken word, exhibitions and events. JDHS’s interest in attending the Fringe stems from winning a high school theatre department award from the American High School Theatre Festival for the second time since Moore has been the high school director.

“Our auditorium seats almost 950 people and if we could just fill up the auditorium every night, it would almost do it for us,” Moore said. “We have raised to date $147,000 and we need $224,000 dollars by the end of May. June 1 I am supposed to mail the check.”

If fundraising goals are met, 27 Juneau students will be in attendance at this year’s 70th Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland.

Two of those students are Dylan Rice and Lydia Smith. Both Rice and Smith have been given assistant director responsibilities never before administered to a student, Moore said. Dylan has constructed and designed the bar scene set, props, and is acting stage manager while Lydia choreographed the candle, country, and western dances in the production.

“We began in January preparing for this,” Rice said. “Three hours every day after school so I bet 80-100 hours for me — somewhere in there — and that’s just because I am here every rehearsal. It’s definitely a lot of time on my end but very rewarding.”

For Smith, she sees live theatre as a way to bring the community together and witness something the television screen cannot capture.

“That’s what I love about live theatre — it’s not just for you, it’s for everyone in the whole audience who gets to see it. There is something so different about a live show and having a person on stage talking out to you,” Smith said. “Theatre shows you that you can have lots of things to get your mind thinking. That’s why I just love it. ”

The musical “Whistling Down the Wind” will be at the JDHS auditorium May 11 and 12 at 7 p.m. and May 13 at 2 p.m. at the JDHS auditorium. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for elders 65+, and $10 for children. Tickets may be purchased here: http://www.jdhsdrama.com/

Ray Friedlander is a freelance writer in Douglas, Alaska.