Tony-winning composers – with cameo from 'Hamilton' creator - plug Beaverton High musical
Michael Shafer-Montgomery didn't think he would be able to top last year's YouTube blurb featuring Olivia Newton John encouraging everyone to come to Beaverton High School's production of "Grease."
He was wrong.
Knowing that this year's production would be "Catch Me If You Can," Montgomery, a Beaverton High theater alumnus, thought he would go one better, enlisting an artistic director friend who works at Seattle's famed Fifth Avenue Theatre for help. (The musical debuted in the Pacific Northwest at the Fifth Avenue Theatre.)
Eventually, Montgomery said his friend was able to get in touch with Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman, the two award-winning composers of "Catch Me If You Can," who wrote the music for "Hairspray" as well.
"Hello from London where we're making 'Mary Poppins Returns,'" says Shaiman before going on to plug Beaverton's musical, which runs May 24 to 27, in the GoFundMe video.
Shaiman continues: "And we really are not only reading from this piece of paper but we are honored that you chose this show to do for your prestigious spring musical and we'd like to add that we encourage your community to support and volunteer and to make this show a success."
Whitman adds: "Because everything I learned I learned in high school."
But the clincher comes with a surprise cameo at the end of the minute-long video with an appearance by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Broadway wunderkind who wrote the book, music and lyrics for "Hamilton."
"So they got it all recorded and they sent it over and OMG, my jaw dropped," said Shafer-Montgomery, who performed in several BHS productions before graduating in 1988. "I had no idea. Like all of a sudden, Lin-Manuel Miranda appears and says, 'Catch us if you can.'"
Miranda happened to be around because he's "Mary Poppins Returns" as well, playing the role of Jack the Lamplighter in the Walt Disney film set to be released next year.
Shafer-Montgomery who is chairman of the James N. Erickson Legacy Project, a group dedicated to the memory of the renowned Beaverton High director, said he also acquired three posters from the 2009 Fifth Avenue Theatre production of the "Catch Me If You Can." All are signed by Shaiman and Whitman and will be given to the top donors of more than $500.
The goal this year is to raise $5,000 for the musical at the Beaverton High School Theater through the GoFundMe site at gofundme.com/support-bhss-musical-fund.
Shannon Dery, Beaverton High School director and drama teacher, said he was impressed with Shafer-Montgomery's efforts in finding the noted talent for the promo.
"It's pretty cool," said Dery, who was hired this year as Beaverton High School's full-time theater director and drama teacher. "Oh my god…like kids were crying."
With the wild popularity of "Hamilton," Dery said all his students know who Lin-Manuel Miranda is so having him plug their musical was pretty special. Once the video hit social media, it took off like wildfire with most students viewing the video on the BHS theater department Facebook page.
"It was like 'holy crud'!" Willow Rakoncay, a drama student, said she thought when she first saw it.
The GoFundMe money raised will be used to hire Jehn Benson, a renowned local chorographer who most recently completed the same musical for Hillsboro's Glencoe High School.
Benson also choreographed last year's BHS production of "Grease" as well, a performance Dery called "a huge success, a lot of fun."
"I know we're the first in the district to do it," Dery said of "Catch Me If You Can."
Visit facebook.com/BeavertonHighDrama/ for more details.