Dublin Villager

'The Women of Whitechapel'

Scioto production more than typical high school play


The latest production to come out of the Dublin Scioto High School Theatre Department was crafted by high school students at a workshop in Sweden and focuses on the mystery of Jack the Ripper.

"The Women of Whitechapel: A Musical in the Shadows" will take the stage at Scioto, 4000 Hard Road, at 8 p.m. Nov. 15 and 16 and 2 p.m. Nov. 17, in conjunction with the nonprofit Lovewell Institute.

The connection came about through Scioto theater teacher Patricia Santanello, who is a founding board member of the Short North Stage.

The Columbus theater group was working with Lovewell and Santanello found out the group was looking for a U.S. school to premiere a show about Leonard DaVinci.

Santanello jumped at the opportunity and Scioto staged the show last year.

"I am intrigued by the fact that Lovewell students select such fascinating topics to write musicals about in their three-week workshops," Santanello said.

"Anyone who says today's young people are lacking in depth and a thirst for knowledge are sadly mistaken," she said.

"A great musical about Leonardo DaVinci? A musical about the battle between Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla?

"A show about the unsolved mystery of Jack the Ripper? Amazing, high quality shows that the audience can enjoy and learn from."

The Whitechapel show will mark another U.S. premiere and Santanello said a third Lovewell show, "The Alternative: A Musical Tale of Nikola Tesla" will come to Scioto in April.

Carrie Gilchrist, artistic director of the Lovewell Institute, said a "creative ecosystem" is very important to the nonprofit that allows high school students to craft musicals.

"Our shows are written in workshops around the world where students -- ages 13 to 19 -- come together with a team of professional artists and create a musical in the given period of time," she said.

"Through a series of brainstorming, creative chaos, writing, composing, designing, choreographing, rehearsing, producing and performing, an entire musical is born in very short time," Gilchrist said.

"The shows are performed publicly at the end of our workshops, often times to raving fans."

Lovewell is working to make sure the shows don't collect dust after the initial performance and Scioto is helping with that.

For the premiere, people from Lovewell worked with Scioto students for about a month on music, choreography and other production aspects.

"I myself talked them through the ins and outs of the story, discussing their characters' intentions, the historical facts verses fictitious moments and worked on the design and layout for the staging," Gilchrist said.

Premiering a show is a big responsibility and has no previous performances for students to model from, Gilchrist said.

But there are also no expectations, she said.

"They will tell a new story, an important one, full of melodic, touching songs, with plot twists and turns that will have the audience on the edge of their seats and with an underlying theme that is heartbreaking," Gilchrist said.

"They will tell a story that needs to be told, reminding society that we cannot overlook the struggling people of this world."

Despite challenges, working with Lovewell is a great experience for the students, Santanello said.

"The kids feel that it's a great responsibility as well as an honor to premiere new works," she said.

"They have learned so much from working with the Lovewell professionals," she said.

"We work as a team and that means that the students get a lot more input and feedback."

Tickets to "The Women of Whitechapel: A Musical in the Shadows" are $8 for adults and $6 for students.

The show is rated PG-13 and is not appropriate for younger students.