CHAPEL HILL - Neither snow nor rain nor threat of bronchial infection is going to keep Chapel Hill High School’s winter musical from going off, students say.
About a week before opening night, the cast and crew of “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” – a stage adaptation of a cult Internet-based musical comedy starring Neil Patrick Harris – were still working out the staging after bad weather, sick cast members, and a host of other issues kept them from rehearsing as much as they’d wanted.
“Dr. Horrible” tells the story of a wannabe super villain trying to win the love of a girl from his obnoxiously wonderful arch nemesis, Captain Hammer
Chloe Ladd, a CHHS senior and the play’s director, said as fun as the show is, everyone had to do some major improvising, and in some unusual places, to pull it off.
“We’ve been having to use people’s houses and living rooms who are in the cast,” she said.
Last week, they were scattered around Chapel Hill High School’s large auditorium: rolling around sets on wheels, going over notes, and trying to quickly adapt living-room blocking for a real stage production with lights, explosions, and video projections. And it was just their second time getting to use the stage.
At one point in the evening, a few over-eager techies began taking one set apart a little early in the run-through.
“Uh, do you think we could wait for blackout, guys?” the technical director said, coming in a little annoyed over the sound system.
Adrian Thornburg, a senior playing Dr. Horrible, said everyone has been taking the setbacks in stride - at least until now, that is.
“The actual script itself is not too complicated until you bring in the technical elements, which is what we’re starting to get into now,” Thornburg said.
The actors were sounding good that evening between coughs and nose wipes. But Thornburg promised they’d be even better come opening night.
“Our technical rehearsals aren’t going to sound like what our performances are going to sound like,” he said, “mostly because our noses are full of mucus.”
Kim Rubish, a senior playing Ruby, the love interest, said that might have been her fault.
“I’ve been passing bronchitis around the cast a little bit,” she said. “But I’m better now.”
Getting the rights to the show were almost as difficult as putting it on, according to Thomas Drago, CHHS’s theater director.
“They told me no, like maybe three or four times,” Drago said. “I just kept hearing back, ‘We are not currently licensing the show.’”
In fact, he had almost given up when “Lupus Now,” a medical magazine, showed up on his doorstep.
The cover photo happened to show Maurissa Tancharoen Whedon, the sister-in-law of Joss Whedon, original director of “Dr. Horrible,” (and creator of TV’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) who was undergoing similar treatments to what Drago’s wife had gone through for her Lupus as a child.
Drago had already been trying to sell the publishers on the idea that all of the proceeds for this production would go to Alex’s Lemonade Stand – an organization aimed at raising awareness and funds to combat childhood cancer.
He tried one more email – this time, stressing the new connection.
“OK, you can have the rights,” he said they wrote back.
The kids were elated.
“It’s fun. It’s one of the most fun shows I’ve ever been in,” Rubish said. “It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s – ”
“It’s genre-defining!” Thornburg said, jumping in. “It’s genre-straddling, while at the same time, genre-defining.”
And with that, the cast took off to find rides home.