After the success of their fall drama "These Shining Lives," Trinity Hall’s award-winning Queen’s Court Company has been preparing for their spring musical – this time, with an unprecedented production. In March, the Queen’s Court Company will be the first high school in New Jersey to perform "Ranked." The spring musical will premiere at Brookdale Community College Performing Arts Center from Friday, March 10 through Sunday, March 12.
“'The Hunger Games' meets 'Mean Girls'” is how theater director Ellen Phillips described the show to the cast and crew when she first introduced it. "Ranked" is set in dystopian high school in the future where class rank is of the utmost importance. The story follows a freshman named Lily and other students as they navigate the highs and lows of a high school where falling “Below the Average” ostracizes them from “Above the Average” students. While some students thrive in this environment, others fight to get rid of their class ranks altogether, and Lily struggles to find her place among the ranks.
Ellen Phillips, theatre director explains, “I picked the show because I saw there was a new script company, and I started scrolling on their website. I started reading 'Ranked' because I saw kids in uniforms. Based on our community discussing pressures of teenagers right now with the college process after the pandemic, I felt this wasn’t exactly a solution for our students, but a way for our students to see that they are not alone and also to have fun with it. Also, for the rest of our community to see that there is a new kind of pressure on kids… It is a dystopian society, so the story is not happening now, but it hints that this is where we could go in the future if we are not careful.”
"Ranked" was written by Kyle Holmes, a drama teacher and David Taylor Gomes, a musical director, who wanted to create a show for their students who were experiencing heightened academic pressures. After the Covid-19 pandemic stopped the production from continuing on to Broadway, Holmes and Gomes decided to release the script for schools to perform their show, as it only felt right considering the subject matter.
Ellen said, “I knew I had to get the students on board because nobody knew the show. Now, the kids are having fun doing it. There are a lot of moving parts because the story moves fast, and we have to create controlled chaos. Organized chaos is a really hard thing to do, but when they hit those harmonies, and they get those moments, we all look at each other like ‘that was incredible!’ Those moments are so special.”
Freshman Kate Schweikert, as an actress in the show and a member of the costume team, has embraced the newness of both the show and her time in the Queen’s Court Company and Crowning Crew. “Every part of this show perfectly represents the student experience. It beautifully encompasses the different stresses and anxieties of high schoolers. It does not belittle or minimize our struggles; instead, it gives a relatable story for us to see ourselves in. Between the power of the story, Mrs. Phillips’ incredible directing, and all the incredible talent of the cast, pit band and crew, I think the show is going to have an impact on the audience. What we have created so far is incredible, I can’t wait to see the final product.”
"Ranked" will feature contemporary, pop/rock songs which will be played by the student pit band and music director Mike Kabash. The music will be accompanied by dance numbers choreographed by Trinity Hall students Blaire Sheftel ‘23 and Katie Calamusa ‘24. The actresses and actors will also be wearing costumes designed and created by the student costume team, led by Samantha Puma. The stage will be transformed into a high school by sets designed and built by students in the Crowning Crew, led by Mariana Sierra.
“I love the music in 'Ranked.' It gives me 'Dear Evan Hansen,' contemporary rock musical vibes. We have been working hard vocally. We thought it would be easier because it is so pleasing to the ear, but the music is a lot more complicated than it sounds. The layering of the songs is present, and we have been putting the pieces together,” said Ellen Phillips.
Ellen is equally excited to share this story, as she is to be the first high school in New Jersey to perform "Ranked": “We are the first high school in New Jersey to ever do this show, which is so exciting. I think the students are really embracing that and leaning into the fact that we are the first ones to do it. I am also excited for this show because I feel like people turn to the arts for entertainment, relief and enjoyment… I feel like we are in this next wave of how to navigate the effects of the pandemic. It feels like the arts can help everyone in our community pause, think, enjoy, be entertained and be thoughtful. It could be a moment where the arts can comfort or help.”
The Queen’s Court Company’s "Ranked" will take the stage on Friday, March 10 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, March 11 at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, March 12 at 2:30 p.m at Brookdale Community College Performing Arts Center. Tickets can be purchased at th.booktix.com (Adults: $12, Students/Seniors: $10). Stay after the Saturday matinee (2:30 p.m.) for an exclusive “Talk Back” with the cast and crew of the show. You don’t want to miss it!
The Queen’s Court Company and Crowning Crew invite you to share a message with a member(s) of the cast and/or crew, or advertise your business. Messages will appear in the program throughout the spring musical. Purchase here.