You've heard of "Moby Dick," Herman Melville's novel involving the white whale. But have you ever heard of "Moby Dick, the Musical"?
The students at Northwest Cabarrus High School will perform this comedy next weekend, led by Fine Arts Department chairwoman Andrea Rassler.
"My first trip on the stage was as Winthrop in 'The Music Man' when I was in fourth or fifth grade," Rassler said. "Since then, I've done countless community theater shows, studied theater in college and explored playwriting as well."
"The love for the art form came from my dad," she said, "who was an inspirational director."
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Originally from Litchfield, Minn., Rassler's family was very big into the arts, so she has the love of theater in her blood. In fact, the auditorium in her hometown was named after her father, Bernie Aaker, because he started a successful community theater group there.
Now that she lives in Charlotte, the students at Northwest are very lucky to have such a talented and dedicated teacher to lead their theater department.
"The students I teach are some of the most inspired, motivated and creative students in the school," Rassler said. "As I see it, theater is a series of problem-solving events; problem-solving is at the core of what we refer to as 21st-century learning.
"Basically, the playwright gives you a script. ... Our problem is to figure out how to tell the story the playwright wants you to tell. There are a million ways to tell it and a million little problems that come up along the way."
"Moby Dick, the Musical" is different in that it is a play within a play. It's about a school having severe financial problems. (Sounds all too familiar, right?) The students come up with a plan to mount an original production of "Moby Dick" to raise money.
"The arts teach not only problem-solving but creative thinking," Rassler said. "They build self-confidence and show human beings that the world is a colorful and meaningful place. All the core classes are the outlines of a picture or a life we are living. We need those lines, to be sure. But the arts give the picture the color it needs to be a finished project."
In addition to teaching Theatre 1 through Theatre 4 and Musical Theatre classes at Northwest, Rassler also runs a two-week summer theater camp in July that is available to any student in the Cabarrus County Schools. For more information, call the school at 704-788-4111 or go to the Cabarrus County Schools website at www.ccsweb.cabarrus.k12
.nc.us and click on Northwest Cabarrus High School.
"Moby Dick, the Musical" will be performed at Northwest High at 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students and will be sold at the door before each performance.