Audiences can expect to be swept away by talent, magical transformations and tributes to a former elementary school principal when the Upper Arlington High School Vocal Music department presents Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella."

As is the case every year when the department puts on a musical, there's a lot to unpack and several moving parts to the performances and everything that goes into them.

There's the selection of the musical, and the talents of the cast honed over hours of rehearsal.

This year, there's a bit more.

The performances, which will be at UAHS, 1650 Ridgeview Road, at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 20-22 and 2:30 p.m. Feb. 23, will feature a handmade set constructed entirely by the cast, crew and volunteer parents.

"Parents and students have worked pretty much every day since the week before Christmas," said Jennifer Golowin, a parent booster. "The idea is, when the kids are involved in the construction of it, I think they really appreciate everything it takes to make a show come together.

"Parents and students have worked three to four hours a night on the set and eight to 10 hours on the weekends."

Building a set with volunteers is a departure from many years of renting a set for performances.

And for the second year in a row, the group is incorporating tributes to Chris Collaros, the former Wickliffe Progressive Elementary School principal who died last April at age 57.

Collaros was popular among students and others in the community, in part due to his penchant for lead songs on his guitar at school, as well as his belief in inclusiveness and his motto imploring people, including students, to "love out loud."

Scott Huntley, co-chairman of the UA Vocal Music Parent Booster organization for this year's production, said Collaros had a "profound impact" on many families in the community, including his own.

He added that Collaros comforted parents with the knowledge their children were "being loved and led by someone who taught and modeled inclusion for everyone, someone who truly felt joy in the presence of our children and who wanted them to understand the importance of community and compassion for others."

To honor Collaros, the "Cinderella" set will feature interlocking C's, and the words "L'amour a haute voix," which is French for "love out loud."

"It's a phrase that became a rallying call in support of Chris and his family when he received his diagnosis and continues to be a reminder every day of the things that he taught us and our children, so whether it appears on stage in Greek, French or any other language that might fit the show," Huntley said, "it's just our way of putting him and reminders of his life and his message out there for everyone to see. Chris was a wonderful, enthusiastic musical performer, and so many of the students in the cast of Cinderella are former students of his.

"Almost every day, Chris infused music into his work at Wickliffe by singing at Town Meeting -- lots of classic Beatles -- in classrooms with kids, even at the annual Informal Affair fundraiser. Chris knew what a powerful connection people have to one another when singing together and seeing so many of his former students in the cast is another reminder of what he provided to our children."

The performances will be overseen by Lydia Smith-Lockwood, UA Vocal Music director and show producer; Jackie Comisar, show director and choreographer; Amy Leacock, music director; Greg Varner, acting coach; and Anthony Stype, technical crew director.

According to Golowin, more than 100 students are involved in the program -- 63 in the cast, 32 in production and 14 in the orchestra.

"It's really pretty cool for the students to not be performing with musical recordings, but rather with live music," Golowin said.

Golowin said the shows will be fun, with entertaining music and several "really neat transformations" on stage, including when Cinderella changes from peasant clothing to her ballgown.

Paperless tickets can be purchased in advance at uavocalmusic.org.

Tickets, which will range from $10 to $16, also may be purchased at the door before the performances.

"Our audience will be swept away by the magic of this production," Comisar said. "You will be charmed by the reimagined story of this classic tale. You will be enchanted by the rich, lush score that only America's most beloved composer/lyricist team could deliver.

"And you will be delighted by the grand sets and breathtaking costumes that make this fairytale come to life."

nellis@thisweeknews.com

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