SCHS theater students reflect on differences between plays and musicals


Rebecca LaBarge

SCHS student performers consider different technical approaches when preparing for an upcoming performance.

A spotlight dims and the curtains close. As Kylie Knoles walks out on the stage to take her final bow, applause fills the room. Reminiscing on her efforts in preparation for the long-awaited performance, she dons a bright smile. 

At SCHS, many students are passionately involved in both plays and musicals. While audiences may be able to observe the product from weeks of rehearsals, hidden behind the curtains is the amount of work actors put into productions. SCHS performers discussed different ways to prepare for musicals and dance performances as opposed to plays as well as the technical differences surrounding various forms of performance. 

Sophomore Clarissa Co was involved with the 2022 drama production “The Play that Goes Wrong” and has been dancing since they were three years old. They pointed out that musicals are more technically challenging to execute than plays.

“A play has much less technical elements,” Co said. “Sure there’s lighting and the occasional sound, but you don’t really have to work with music, or singing or having to cast people based on singing ability and if they fit the character. It’s really just a lot more with the musical.”

Junior Kylie Knoles has been involved in theater and dance since she was young, with experience acting in both musicals and plays. She approaches acting in plays with a more serious mindset and focuses on specific aspects of her performance, like blocking, where she learns the specific actions she will take throughout a scene. 

“When it comes to musicals and that kind of thing, I always try to be more light and have more fun with it, but with plays for some reason, I just approach it in a more serious manner,” Knoles said. “It feels like I need to be more professional in a way, so I take it a lot more seriously. I really study my lines to make sure I know all of my blocking. With a musical I feel like I can kind of ease my way through it, I can kind of joke around more, honestly.”

Similarly to Knoles, sophomore Richard Lancaster, who acted in “The Play that Goes Wrong” and would prepare diligently for his performance.

“I had to practice being good at walking around and knowing what to do with my hands and stuff, no nervous gestures really, and look confident,” Lancaster said.

Knoles appreciates plays for their emphasis on acting. Additionally, she enjoys creating characters and portraying various roles. 

“This is the first play I’ve ever done. I’ve always either done musicals or dancing, but honestly, I think I might like plays better,” Knoles said. “Even though I’ll always adore dancing and singing, there’s just something with the rawness of doing a regular play that I can’t really explain.”

Whether students are performing with or without song and dance, many students in theater enjoy performing and creating bonds through various productions.

“I just like the sense of community, and I really like performing on stage,” Co said. ”It feels really freeing.”