The theatre department of McKinney High School brings gold, a leprechaun and a social conscience to the stage this month with their production of “Finian’s Rainbow,” a magical tale with something to say — and sing — about the real world.
The show, directed by McKinney High School Theatre Director Denise Tooch, is a considerable undertaking. In production and rehearsals since October, the musical includes 48 cast members, a live student orchestra and an elaborate student-created forest featuring a large, central tree substantial enough to accommodate characters who climb into it.
The show first appeared on Broadway in 1947 and tells the story of Finian McLonergan, his daughter Sharon and a leprechaun named Og who travel from Ireland to Missitucky, USA. There, they encounter sharecroppers and the corrupt senator who oppresses them. With a pot of gold, a bit of magic and plenty of singing, they offer hope to a land in desperate need of it.
Although it is not as well known as other Broadway shows, Tooch thinks “Finian’s Rainbow” is a good fit for her students. “It’s sometimes more challenging to find musicals that provide opportunities for many performers that include elements of both fun and social change,” she says. “Even though it was written in 1947, ‘Finian’s Rainbow’ has all three, and we are so privileged to be able to share this rarely performed piece with our students and the community.”
Tooch and her students may have another opportunity to share “Finian’s Rainbow” later this spring. The show has been entered in this year’s inaugural Dallas Summer Musicals High School Musical Theatre Awards and will be evaluated in 12 categories by 3 judges. If nominated for Best Musical, Best Actor or Best Actress, McKinney High School will be invited to perform live at the May 5 awards show with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.
“Finian’s Rainbow” can be seen January 19-21 at 7 p.m. and January 22 at 2 p.m. in the McKinney High School Auditorium. Admission is $8 for students and $10 for adults. The box office will open one hour before curtain — cash or check will be accepted.