PORTSMOUTH — When the last notes of “The Sound of Music” fade away at Portsmouth High School Saturday night, one of Meryl Moore’s favorite things — directing student musicals — will come to an end.
Ms. Moore, who’s also the school’s choral director and supervisor of fine arts, is retiring at the end of the academic year after two decades of teaching.
“I decided it was time to move on,” said Ms. Moore before a rehearsal Tuesday night. “I’ve been teaching 20 years — half at the middle school, half here. I want to do something different, but I haven’t made a decision yet on exactly what direction I’ll go.”
The Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein musical, based on the story of the Trapp Family Singers, will be staged in the school theater at 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April 4-6. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students and seniors.
Upwards of 75 students — including 30 cast members and about as many musicians in the pit orchestra — are involved in the production. The backdrop was painted by an art student, the cast is all students — including three middle-schoolers — and there’s a student tech crew as well.
“We try to keep it student-led,” said Ms. Moore, who’s directed a musical “about every other year” for the past 11 years. (Her son was in her first cast.)
“The talent of this group and the soloists is just tremendous,” she said. “You get started with something and the kids always surprise me in doing things on their own. I let them grow into the character; I specifically don’t watch the movie before the rehearsals start because I want it to be ours and I want it to be different and have our stamp on it. I think the kids really do a great job with that.”
The cast has been rehearsing after school every day since coming back from Christmas break. “So when it ends, it’s abrupt,” she said. “You think, ‘What do I do with my afternoons now?'”
Although she was all business Tuesday, Ms. Moore said she’s sure to get a little teary-eyed during the performances.
“Right now I’m at the ‘get it done’ stage, but I’m sure when I see it up there, especially with this group of kids that I’m really close to, it’s going to be emotional.”