May 24, 2019

Summer stage at CVU

Observer courtesy photo Students prepare Tuesday for the Aug. 11-13 run of “The Lion King” at CVU.

Observer courtesy photo
Students prepare Tuesday for the Aug. 11-13 run of “The Lion King” at CVU.

Students prepare for first-ever summer musical, ‘The Lion King’

By Jason Starr

Observer staff

Normally, the theater at Champlain Valley Union High School is dark and quiet this time of year.

But this summer, it is animated with rehearsals for a first-time summer performance of “The Lion King.” The show is set for a three-day run Aug. 11-13.

Benjamin Recchia graduated from CVU last year and started circulating the idea among other CVU alumni and incoming seniors about producing a summer show. As a high-schooler, Recchia had directed middle school musicals at Charlotte Central School and realized there is a void in public school theater in the summer, when teachers are not available to lead rehearsals.

“I thought maybe this is a little niche we can fill,” the University of Vermont freshman said.

During the spring, he recruited eighth-graders at CVU’s feeder schools to fill out the cast. Twenty-five students — mostly incoming freshmen and a few incoming sophomores — responded. Rehearsals started Monday.

Recchia set the program up as a three-week intensive theater camp leading up to the performances. With eight-hour rehearsal days, cast members are not only preparing for the show, they are also meeting fellow incoming freshmen, and getting a head start on their time at CVU.

“We’re welcoming kids from all four (middle) schools to our school,” said Carl Recchia, Benjamin’s father and CVU’s choral director. “They’re getting a little jump on what it’s like to be at CVU.

“I think they are a little overwhelmed, but when you set the bar really high, they rise to it. We are asking them to do a lot. They are fully immersed.”

Benjamin Recchia, a zoology major who is studying to become a veterinarian, is directing the production and also designed the set. He plans to continue acting and directing as a hobby that balances out his science-based academic and career interests.

“I do this just for fun,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to pursue it as a career because I think that would take the fun out of it for me.”

Carl Recchia acknowledged that the summer is a more difficult time than the school year to get the word out about a school play. But he’s happy to see the theater full of life during the offseason.

“We’ve never had a summer musical at CVU,” he said. “We have a lot of institutional support. There are a lot of pieces in place here to help make this happen.”

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