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NICHOLAS MERCER: Working for 48 hours

Students at Graham Academy in Corner Brook took part in a 48-hour musical over the weekend. The group produced "Fame" in two days.
Students at Graham Academy in Corner Brook took part in a 48-hour musical over the weekend. The group produced

No one needs reminding that life pulls you in any number of directions.

Between work, home and extracurricular activities, it isn’t easy to make sure we have some time to ourselves.

Mostly, we long for just five minutes when we can shed the rigours of life and listen to that Sam Cooke track or finally hang that picture up in the hall from your brother’s wedding.

However, what do you think you could accomplish if you had a straight 48 hours to dedicate to something?

When I think of being able to dedicate myself to something for two whole days, I see finally nailing that sweet harmonica solo from Tom Cochrane’s “Life Is A Highway” or writing that short story I’ve always dreamed of.

A dozen aspiring actors worked to put together a 48-hour musical based on "Fame" as part of a program at Graham Academy in Corner Brook. Among them were (front, from left) Charlotte Guy and Max Pittman; and (back) Seonaid Stark.
A dozen aspiring actors worked to put together a 48-hour musical based on "Fame" as part of a program at Graham Academy in Corner Brook. Among them were (front, from left) Charlotte Guy and Max Pittman; and (back) Seonaid Stark.

Recently, a group of musically inclined youths spent 48 hours doing something that completely boggles the mind.

The 12 students were staying at Graham Academy as part of the organization’s first 48-hour musical. Quite simply, the 12 of them had two days to learn lines and choreography for an entire musical, the time it takes someone to send a piece of mail across town or the time to leave Corner Brook and head to Winnipeg nonstop by automobile.

The idea of learning anything in a matter of 48 hours mesmerizes me. The thought of that being something as inherently complicated as a musical makes my head spin.

Yet, there they were, eating, sleeping and rehearsing from Nov. 8 to Nov. 10 in an effort to put off the best version of the 1980s musical drama "Fame" as they could.

“I liked it here,” said 12-year-old Charlotte Guy. “I spend a lot of time here anyways, but I’m never upstairs (in the living quarters) much. The whole experience was fun. I loved it.”

"Fame" is the story of a group of New York teenagers who are attending the High School of Performing Arts as they move from auditions through to their senior years.

Coincidentally, the students at Graham Academy are doing the same thing. While they aren’t spending every day at the academy, they are using the former convent as a place to broaden themselves with new skills while sharpening ones they already have.

You might say the students at Graham Academy and the students in "Fame" are living very similar lives — without much of the angst of a television teen drama.

At breakfast, in between bites of perfect pieces of French toast and slurps of orange juice, the students would run lines.

That was followed by practice.

During lunch, they’d run over choreography and more lines. Then, again, they’d rehearse.

For 48 hours, they lived the lives of Coco Hernandez, Bruno Martelli and Lisa Monroe.

In a setting such as this, where everything is moving at a break-neck pace, being able to settle yourself and take everything in stride can be important. Not giving in to the inherent stress of the situation is a key.

Improvisation becomes key when some of the lines aren’t working as you’d hope or someone misses their cue.

“It was a real nice learning experience,” said 15-year-old Seonaid Stark. “It taught you how to improve a lot. Of course, we only had 48 hours, so it wasn’t as polished as what you would be putting onstage usually is.

“I learned even if it isn’t perfect, you still have to do it.”

Nicholas Mercer is the online editor with The Western Star. He lives in Corner Brook and can be reached at Nicholas.mercer@thewesternstar.com.

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