by MAREN SCHIFFER
Founded 10 years ago as a fundraiser for the Santa Barbara High School theater department, Music of the Night has established a reputation independent from its purpose. It is now arguably the most popular high school production among students. It is an entirely student-run, student-produced musical revue, with rehearsals barely fitting in the time frame between the fall play and the spring musical. This year’s directors, Kristian Sorensen, Dylan Fitzgibbons, Jana McIntyre, and Olivia Ghersen, are leading a cast of 41 students.
Music of the Night sounds more like a challenge from Glee than a fundraiser: High school students produce a show in a limited number of weeks, with a limited budget, and without teachers, parents, or administrators to guide the experience. Perhaps the perspective of its being a challenge is what motivates students so much.
Besides the cast of 41, there are students behind the scenes as well: two costumers, one sound designer, one light designer, a stage manager, and a technical crew of about six. In fact the only adult involved is a musical director hired to teach music to the band, someone who has long been a part of SBHS theatrical productions.
Music of the Night is granted $500 from the school for the production—enough to pay for lighting, said Kristian. Consequently, with the need for costumes, sets, posters, programs, tickets, sheet music, etc., heavy fundraising must be a part of the whole process. This year the cast raised about $3,200 when they hosted Fright Walk before Halloween, a haunted walk full of reenacted horror scenes.
Much to Kristian’s jealousy, Music of the Night is slated to receive $2,500 from the school next year. However, when asked what his ideal budget would be, he admitted that this year’s has been about perfect: Due to measured spending, the program hasn’t run out of money just yet. “I don’t like the idea of an endless supply of money because a smaller budget forces you to be more creative. It makes the production more original, more homey.”
Despite the behind-the-scenes drama that undoubtedly comes with such a production, it seems every cast member has pride in the show and a will to succeed. The result is proof of the students’ talent and determination, and an outlet to flaunt their capabilities. Kristian summed up, “[Music of the Night] is unlike anything else in the district. It’s an amazing experience and a chance for the cast to create something completely their own.” He added, “Plus, it’s a good smattering of musical numbers!”