Despite problems, BHS pulls off hit with musical
Taking on the lead role of a high school play can be tough on any student, but imagine trying to sing and talk with a throat that needs surgical attention.
After battling sickness and an infected throat, Baldwin High School senior Paul Minor finished the play Saturday and went in for surgery Tuesday.
"I am getting a tonsillectomy as soon as this is over," Minor said after Friday night's performance. "I'm pretty excited about it."
Minor went to visit the doctor Friday, which was opening night for the play. He was told the surgery should be done immediately.
"They said they wanted to take these out tonight," Minor said of his doctor visit Friday. "I told them I had a performance tonight and tomorrow. They asked what kind of performance and I told them it was a musical. They said 'so you sing?' I said yes and they responded by saying 'how can you sing with your throat like this. You shouldn't be able to talk.'"
Although he wasn't supposed to sing, Minor went out and led the BHS rendition of the 1984 movie "Footloose" both Friday and Saturday nights.
"This was a lot better," Minor said Friday. "A week ago, I never would have believed it was possible. We've dealt with absences and illness. I had no idea. A week ago, we didn't know our lines or how to sing. Now I know how to sing."
Assistant Director Michelle Kirk was proud of the students' performance.
"I thought the kids pulled together wonderfully," Kirk said. "We've got a lot of wonderful kids. They were nervous and excited and all of those things showed. I am just really glad and proud of how well they did."
Minor wasn't the only one with voice problems Friday night. Lead female junior Katherine Niehues had problems during the play.
"I lost my voice," Niehues said. "I don't know. It was weird. I just lost it for a bit, but it came back. I think we did fine, but it wasn't the best we've ever done."
Friday night's opening performance filled the Baldwin Junior High School auditorium to capacity.
"I was incredibly happy and surprised with how many came to support us," Kirk said. "That was awesome. I've heard that's not happened in quite a while. It's a wonderful thing to pack the house and have a good show."
Kirk was very pleased with the students' singing. She credits BHS vocal music teacher Juli O'Mealey-Hossain for that.
"We are so lucky in this district to have our new vocal director," Kirk said. "She does an incredible job of bringing out the talent of these kids. She worked with them and I can't believe the quality she got from them and the quality that they have."
Many of the students enjoyed working with their classmates on the production. Minor recalled a moment before the first show that he will remember for a long time.
"We all just bonded really well," Minor said. "We did the traditional warm ups and then had some time to sit around. Then all of a sudden, someone starting singing 'Ain't no mountain high.' In less than a minute, the entire cast was singing the song. It was a little weird, but very touching."
Niehues also enjoyed working with her fellow students for the first time after she moved here from Sabetha.
"It was scary, but it was fun," Niehues said. "The other students were nice and the directors were really good."
Minor and Niehues both enjoyed working with each other on stage.
"She is very talented and a very nice person," Minor said. "She is really fun to work with."
Minor's throat problem did cause him to miss many practices since the play began.
"I have missed about half of the practices, because I was sick and couldn't come," Minor said. "Once I came back, I couldn't sing or do anything. I was like 'I am here taking up space.'"
Although his was a concern, it was not the only problem that dealt with sickness.
"Monday was our first rehearsal since September where everybody was there, except our drummer, who has been sick all week," Kirk said. "That's been a challenge, but we've made it work."
The play was based off the 1984 movie starring Kevin Bacon as a new kid in a small town. He tried to bring dancing to the town, but faced many struggles from the community.
Minor worked hard to study Bacon to improve his performance.
"It was kind of cool, because I went out and bought the movie, soundtrack and the ring tone on my phone," Minor said. "I had to zen my Kevin Bacon. I realized I couldn't do that, but I did it close enough."
Now that the play is over and his surgery is over, Minor has plans for spending his time.
"I get two weeks off to play video games," Minor said. "That's all I am going to do -- no learning."