Performing Artists Blossom at BHS

This Spring, Benicia’s youth takes the stage. We can expect a dance showcase and Seussical, the musical, to grace the Hayley Horn Auditorium. Led by Erica Pecho and Colleen McAdams respectively, Benicia High School’s students will bloom under the mentorship of experienced performers.

Seussical, directed by Colleen McAdams with assistance from English teacher Rachel Morgado, is slated to hit the stage this spring. McAdams, the new face of the Theater Department, put on her first show last fall. Though it was the first play she directed, the theater was full of laughs from audience members of every age.

As a vocal specialist, McAdams was faced with many challenges while producing The Play that Goes Wrong.

Even so, the end product was an amazing experience for everyone involved. Most importantly, the students were empowered to have fun and take risks with their acting choices. I, myself, thoroughly enjoyed the show and it warmed my heart to see teens have such freedom and adventure.

Seussical is a show that McAdams is much more familiar with. After the success of the fall play, the spring musical is expected to wow. Classic stories by Dr. Seuss are blended with music and dance to build a fun show that is perfect for families to attend. Crowd favorites, such as Cat in the Hat and the Whos, will make appearances.

Under the wisdom of a seasoned performer, students new to acting and singing will experiment with new tools of self expression.

Those more experienced will continue to challenge themselves and cultivate their talent. Though this is one of America’s most performed shows, Benicia High’s performers will put their own stamp on this production that will be well worth seeing.

Pecho’s dance students have enjoyed a wealth of opportunities to prepare for their upcoming shows.

With the goal of contributing to a vibrant and dynamic dance community, Pecho coordinated a visit to Napa High School called “Day of Dance” where students from local dance studios and nearby school dance programs performed for each other. Not only did BHS’s dancers get practice performing for others, they also were able to engage in a supportive, non-competitive convergence of artistry. 

The dancers are expected to set and achieve goals, as well.

Besides developing their technical skills as dancers, the dance students are also receiving an education in nurturing essential life skills that will be useful to them in college and beyond. Discipline, teamwork, and perseverance are just some of those skills.

I had the pleasure of previewing the talent in the department during choreography auditions. I saw firsthand the love and care Pecho is putting into her students’ education: Dancers were asked to apply to be choreographers, simulating the experience of chasing real-life opportunities.

Before they could show their talent and creativity, the applicants had to demonstrate their preparedness with a cover letter explaining why they have earned the chance to choreograph themselves, or their peers. Then, after performing their sample of what they would produce, each dancer faced mock-interview questions.

The small taste of what I saw during these auditions was enough to make me antsy for the final performance.

From technique to entertainment value to heart, these dancers have got it. And now, with Pecho to mentor them, Benicia High’s dancers will also have the know-how to pursue a career in the performing arts.

Pecho has loved watching her dancers grow as young adults as they work together to put on a show. “[I’ve been] watching young people come alive, find their voice, and showcase their love of dance to others. They’ve shown me, time and again, how to make a positive imprint in our community.”

Pecho emphasized that the dance program is so much more than creating a performance.

“As we move together, we’re not just learning dances; we’re learning about each other, enriching our dance education, breaking down barriers, and building a community that uplifts everyone while also sharing our passion for dance.”

While the performers focus on supporting each other, the Benicia community can support them by attending their shows.

The Dance Department show is on May 16th. The Dance 3 students, the dancers in the most advanced dance class offered at BHS, will perform in additional shows on May 17th and 18th.

Buying a ticket is the best way to show that Benicia values the arts in our schools. It is an investment in the futures of the students that cross the stage, encouraging them to continue to develop as artists. Attending the plays, musicals, dance shows, and improv productions shows these students that the work they put into their performances has value—and will be appreciated by others.

You can purchase your tickets for both the musical and the dance show on the Benicia High School website and choose your seats, or tickets will be available at the door.

Feature photo by Amour Owens