Behind the Bookstore

Elijah Powell, Contributor

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Excitement will buzz in the air from both the auditorium seats and backstage. The lights will dim, the audience will hush, and the curtain will rise for the first time; not the first time on Murray High School’s stage, nor on its theater department. No, this, ladies and gentlemen, will be the world premiere of Benjamin Stanford’s Behind the Bookstore, an all original musical.

This spectacle will be at 7:00 pm on the 8th, 9th, 10th, and 12th of March. Tickets are available from any cast or crew member for $6 to students,$ 7 to the general public, or $8 at the door. Auditions were held back in December, but the story goes back even more.

When he was a sophomore, in June 2015, Stanford began by writing a song for a musical, with the intent of nothing more. A full musical soon became not out of the question. Ben asked his theater teacher at MHS, Will Saxton, about writing a musical and he said, “Any student who writes a musical and wants to produce it in high school has the full support of the Murray High Theater Department’s resources behind them.”

 Two years and countless revisions later, Ben gets to see the show that he first wrote, and now is directing.

Placed in 1906, Conover, Virginia, this musical opens on Danny Thatcher celebrating his new position as manager in a bookstore. He has dreamed of this moment since he was three. The position, however, does not come without its own trial; To keep the bookstore in business, he needs to earn two hundred and twenty five thousand dollars in five years.

Furthermore, the former manager had already spent three of those years, while making less than half of that sum. The bookstore is not the only place in town bustling. The citizens of the council are voting on the commerce act that may determine what will become of their town. The Hutch brothers run their own bookstore across town and are determined that they must have no competition. There is even drama at the office of Doctor Burns!

What Ben did was remarkable, but he says that he could not have done it on his own.

Josh Ogden, a friend of his and MHS alum, orchestrated the music, turning songs written for the piano into full symphonic orchestral pieces. 

Emma Woodberry is cast as the role of Judge, but she also plays the part of Choreographer. She is behind every step of every number.

 Countless hours of preparation are put into the production by the actors on stage, the stage crew and those in the pit. They are volunteers from Murray High’s instrumental music programs, lead by Zachary Giddings.

Sit back, enjoy your popcorn, and meet children who are constantly Making Trouble, a widow with Never-Ending Dreams, and everyone in between!

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