The student cast, which is comprised from students from both the middle school and high school, has been rehearsing nearly every day since January. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)
The student cast, which is comprised from students from both the middle school and high school, has been rehearsing nearly every day since January. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

Archived Story

Student actors rehearse for annual spring musical

Published 8:00am Friday, March 14, 2014

For the last several months, students who stuck around the halls of Dowagiac Middle School after school may have heard the unmistakable sound of show tunes emanating from the auditorium of the performing arts center.

Despite the numerous snow days the district has experienced this winter, production for this year’s spring musical, “Annie,” is still on track. The curtain will rise on at 7 p.m. March 22 and at 2 p.m. March 23, inside the middle school auditorium.

Meredith Marrs, who has overseen the last five student productions, will again direct this year’s musical. She and the 60 students participating in the show have been prepping and rehearsing since January, Marrs said.

“It takes us 12 weeks to fully prepare for the show,” she said. “With the 10 snow days we’ve had this year, we’re cutting it close.”

Despite the snow-related challenges her cast has experienced this year, Marrs said that the kids are not behind schedule. The students, who range from sixth-grade to seniors, have been participating in daily rehearsals afterschool since they began preparing for the production. In addition, they have also met for a few dress rehearsals on Saturdays, which have run for as long as five hours.

“Our kids put a lot of time and effort into this,” Marrs said.

While Marrs and a few other teachers, including Choir Director Jeff Robinson, are helping out, in many ways the production is student-driven, Marrs said. In addition to acting, many students will be helping out backstage during the show.

“Our kids make the sets, run the lights,” Marrs said. “Adults help, but it’s their show.”

Headlining the cast of this year’s musical is Anne Zebell, who is playing the lead character. Although she has been involved with school musicals in the past, this is her first stint as leading lady.

Playing Daddy Warbucks is senior Kenneth Creameans, who is starring in a school-led musical for the first time, Marrs said.

Many of the other members of the cast have been involved with school theater in the past, which gives rehearsals a familiar and casual atmosphere to help combat the long hours, Marrs said.

“We’re like a big family,” Marrs said. “We have our ups and downs, but we work through them since we all have the same end goal. When it’s all said and done and the students take their final bow, there’s a sense of accomplishment. That’s what brings kids back every year.”

This year’s musical will be bittersweet for Marrs, though, as eight of her longtime students will be graduating later this year, she said.

“I tell my husband that I can’t believe the talent we have hidden in Dowagiac,” she said. “To see students come into their own over the years, it gives me a big sense of accomplishment and pride.”

Tickets for “Annie” will be sold at the door for $7. For additional information email Marrs at

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