Live theatre is, at last, making a comeback around the country, including the University of Arizona. The Arizona Repertory Theatre, which showcases the talents of the UA School of Theatre, Film and Television’s acting and musical theatre students, is back in action and their next production is the lively musical High Fidelity.
A typical season for ART includes several shows per semester, but the last few years have not been typical. As an industry that thrives on community, live performances were hit especially hard by pandemic restrictions. Now that restrictions have been loosened, it’s time for live theatre to return in full force and this is an ideal show for the job.
High Fidelity is a rollicking adaption of the 1995 novel of the same name and its subsequent film version, with lyrics by Amanda Green and music by Tom Kitt.
The show tells the story of Rob Gordon, a record store owner, who examines his own life and relationship history after a painful breakup. The story features Rob’s attempts to win back the affections of his spirited ex-girlfriend Laura and includes a cast of eccentric characters and countless music references.
Vinney Pugliese, a musical theater senior who stars as Rob, described his character in much excitement.
“Throughout the show, he kind of comes to the conclusion that everything that’s going wrong in his life is completely his own fault,” Pugliese said.
Hannah Peyton, a musical theater senior who plays Laura, explained her excitement about the show.
“It’s such a funny show,” Peyton said. “It’s so full of life. It’s so entertaining, with these really deep life lessons woven in.”
The show premieres mid-April but the cast has been rehearsing since February, already having put countless hours into memorizing lines, music and choreography. Under the skillful guidance of director Hank Stratton and choreographer Christie Kerr, the cast of over 20 students is in the process of bringing the show to life.
Daniel Altamirano, a musical theater senior, plays Dick, a friend of Rob’s and an employee at his record store.
Altamirano has enjoyed leaning into the show’s vibrant energy and the chemistry between himself and the actors he shares the stage with.
“It’s just amazing to be silly on stage again and do what we love,” Altamirano said.
For the UA seniors in High Fidelity, this year has been their chance to shine after years of virtual and socially distanced performances.
“My class has definitely not had the opportunity to do as many productions because of [COVID-19] and what the world went through,” Altamirano said. “Musical theatre is necessary to the world, especially at times like this where it’s like we all need an escape. We all need somewhere to go to laugh for a while.”
Pugliese echoed this same sentiment, encouraging people to embrace the show’s upbeat tone.
“It’s something that I feel like people want to see right now,” Pugliese said. “It’s happy. It’s a good time, and I think you could bring anybody to this show and have a fun time.”
High Fidelity may be a carefree diversion for the audience, but it does require immense dedication and effort from its cast members.
Pugliese, for instance, rarely leaves the stage throughout the show’s duration. Memorizing a musical’s worth of songs and blocking, while also being a student and preparing for graduation is no easy task.
“It’s stressful but it’s rewarding,” Pugliese said.
Much of High Fidelity’s charm lies in its lively musical numbers that span an array of genres and styles. The show leaps from pop to country to Bruce Springsteen-inspired rock. This unique score has provided the actors with an exciting challenge.
“It’s a hard sing,” Peyton said. “It’s definitely challenging for all of us, for sure, but it’s overall been so fun to learn.”
One of Altamirano’s favorite things about the show is how close and supportive the cast is.
“We already have that friendship or that colleague relationship,” Altamirano said. “We are able to create a safe space to explore, to do different things, to be silly.”
The cast members also effusively praised both their directors and fellow performers.
“They’re just really awesome to work with,” Peyton said. “Everyone works really hard and the cast is just awesome like you just enjoy being there, so it’s been really sweet.”
High Fidelity will be performed on campus at the Tornabene Theatre. The show debuts on April 14 and will run a total of eight performances lasting until April 24. Students can find more information and purchase tickets here for $15.
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