Choir presents the staff-student musical


Every year, staff members join together with all the choirs to put on a musical complete with funny lyrics, elaborate costumes and well-choreographed dance numbers. Over the past few weeks, the choir has been working to prepare this year’s show, “I Want to Hold Your Babushka,” which will be performed on Feb. 5, 6 and 7. Profits from tickets sold will be used to provide scholarships for the choir tour in Italy later this year.

The script for this show, written 19 years ago by Nancy Hersage, describes a comical story of the Soviet government’s attempt to intervene in American politics by kidnapping the Beatles. “It’s [set in the] early 60s, and they see that the Beatles were about to become the biggest sensation in entertainment,” choir director Bill Liberatore said. “And so what they do is they kidnap the Beatles, and they try to replace them with imposter Beatles who will go to America and be spies for the Russians.”

The choir puts in a lot of work in the weeks leading up to the production to put together a show in a short timespan. “We only have about three to four weeks to do it because we start when we get back [from winter break] and the show is in early February,” junior Katie Brown said. “In class, we really drill the numbers, we learn the music and we do a lot of choreography for it.” In the last week before the show, the staff and choir counterparts join to rehearse the show in full.

As part of the preparation process, the choir attended a weekend-long retreat at a Young Men’s Christian Association camp on the weekend of Jan. 26. “We [were] just up there in the redwoods, learning the dances and singing the show, so that part’s really fun,” Liberatore said. “That’s as fun as doing the show. We [had] a blast.”

Putting on the show involves a lot of scheduling and coordination. In addition to finding a time that is convenient for all choir students and staff participating in the show, planning for the show also involves auditions for smaller parts, costuming, publicity and coordination with the theater crew and with the middle school choirs, who were also invited to participate in the show. “The whole thing is about schedule. That is really the only difficulty. It’s really trying to build a schedule so that somehow or another in a day, everybody who has a solo, a line or a dance to learn gets rehearsed before Feb. 5,” Liberatore said. “It’s like a twelve-headed snake.”

As a result, the last few weeks before the show can be busy for the choir. “It’s very stressful for the last two weeks because we really don’t put it together until the last week,” Brown
said. “The teachers come in during that time, and they have to learn all this stuff.”

Despite the stress, however, the choir-staff musical is an enjoyable experience for all. It allows choir students to experiment with music outside of what they typically sing for choir, interact with staff members in an informal atmosphere and bond with each other over the show. “[It’s] a silly show that’s meant to be funny more than rigorous,” senior Juan-Paulo Idanan said.

For performers, musical nights are a memorable experience. “It’s just fun to see all different kinds of people, students and colleagues, [participate in this],” biology teacher Maria Powell said. “Some of them are in their element and some are so far out- side their comfort zone, but everybody’s having a good time. It’s kind of electric.”

The choir-staff musical is unique because it allows students and staff to interact outside of the classroom and work together to put on a production. “Seeing them perform is just silly because you don’t see teachers just act out [in a funny way] in front of class usually, and it’s just fun to have them around,” Idanan said.

For staff members, the show also provides the opportunity to interact with colleagues from other departments and get involved in a different aspect of school culture. “That’s always the most fun part—to do something together with people from math and people from English and support staff,” Powell said. “There’s no other opportunity in our work lives where we just get to be together, and that’s what brings me back.”

Many staff members, such as Powell, participate in the choir-staff musical year after year and view the show as a significant cam- pus tradition. “I just want to ex- press my gratitude to Mr. Liberatore for doing it over and over and over again,” Powell said. “If we didn’t have him, this wouldn’t happen, and I think it’s a uniquely Gunn thing, and it’s really special.”

Money raised from ticket sales for scholarships aims to allow all choir students to attend the choir’s tour to Italy this year. “There’s a big goal around the money we can raise to make Gunn a more equitable place for all students,” Liberatore said. “That’s a pretty exciting part too, when you can put on a show and then make it possible for a whole lot of kids who couldn’t go on a big choir performance tour to be able to come.”

Audience members can look forward to a night of fun and light-hearted entertainment that the choir and staff have worked hard to prepare for them. “It’s just a fun, wacky time to watch your teachers and your friends perform crazy numbers,” Brown said.