"Not a dancing march, a soldier march!" Reed High School spring musical director Kathy King yelled out to several students who had a little too much hop in their step as they sang "Honey Bun."
This was the scene Friday afternoon as dozens of Reed thespians gathered on stage for a lively rehearsal of their upcoming rendition of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "South Pacific."
This year's spring musical is an adaptation of the one that hit Broadway in 1949 and won nine Tonys, including best musical and best score. And King and music director John Lorentzen are looking to give that production a run for its money. They said Reed is known for its musicals and this year will be no different.
"Our musicals draw out members of the community that have no connection to the school at all," King said. "It's the quality of our productions. I have people say to me that it's better than Broadway. I don't know if I believe them, but they say it."
Taking place during World War II, "South Pacific" is about two couples that society deems inappropriate matches.
"It's about prejudice and I've noticed prejudice is raising its ugly head in our society again - or maybe it's never left," King said. "And it takes place during a war and we are in a war ourselves so I wanted to pay tribute to our veterans."
Lorentzen, who is in his twentieth year at Reed, is bringing all the hits Rodgers and Hammerstein did almost 60 years ago. The classics "Bali Ha'i," and "Some Enchanted Evening" will both be crooned on stage later this month.
"I love the music," Lorentzen said. "It's classic Rodgers and Hammerstein."
While Lorentzen's musical talent surely deserves credit for the reputation of Reed's musicals, he said the students are responsible.
"The kids bring a spark," he said.
King echoed Lorentzen's sentiment.
"They always rise to the occasion," she added.
King said one of the most difficult parts of her job is trying to fit as many of the students as she can into her productions. This process begins before the play is even selected.
"When choosing the plays I think of what student talent we have and if it's big enough to cast a lot of students," she said.
The cast for "South Pacific" includes 48 students, King said. Another 30 are on hand as crew.
Lorentzen said one of the best things about the spring musical is that it includes so many students from across the board.
"It's the highlight of the year," he said. "It brings together so many different people - actors, musicians, crew."
About a dozen Reed band and orchestra students will accompany the thespians for the "South Pacific" performance.
The Reed High School Theater will be performing "South Pacific" April 23-26 at 7 p.m. and April 30 and May 1-3 at 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale now at Reed High School and are $10 to $12.