March 17, 2018
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Camden Hills students finalists in ‘Glee’ contest

By Heather Steeves, BDN Staff

ROCKPORT, Maine — When a flier for a “Glee For All” competition was slipped into Camden Hills Regional High School music teacher Kim Murphy’s mailbox, she almost threw it out.

“You know, you get a lot of things in your mailbox,” she said.

Now her students are in the top five of all groups that entered the competition and will perform live Wednesday on the morning TV news.

Murphy’s school’s principal had written on the flier “go for it, Kim,” and her students love the musical-theater-like TV show, so she decided to ask the teenagers if they wanted to enter the contest. They were pumped. Murphy, still a bit hesitant and busy with rehearsals for the fall musical, “Once Upon a Mattress,” told the teenagers she would be at school at 10 a.m. the next Saturday if they wanted to do it.

“I thought no one would show up,” she said. “But nine kids showed up and it was an amazing balance: two sopranos, three altos, three tenors and one bass.”

She recruited another bass and they met every Saturday starting in early September. Murphy already had bought music for “Under Pressure,” by David Bowie and Queen, for another project, but decided this was the time.

Students prepared costumes and choreography, and last month they recruited a class working on video projects to help them record a music video to send to the FOX23 competition for a $5,000 prize and a chance to perform live on TV.

The video class and the 10 students then blocked off a hallway — holding back a hungry horde of teens on their way to lunch — and sang and danced their hearts out while cameras whizzed by them, over them and through the crowd of singers.

The video shows the group in black and red costumes swaying about, each singer taking turns at solos and rotating into duets while the cameras swing around to each face against a background of the school’s white cinder-block walls.

“They felt like stars that day,” Murphy said, because the corralled students waiting to get to lunch were watching the whole thing.

Then, on Oct. 29, Murphy was again busy and neglected her e-mail, which would have told her that her group was selected as one of the top five and would get to sing and dance on the morning news between 8 and 9 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 10.

But her students found out.

“I had two girls from the group come flying in, screaming,” Murphy said. “All things came to a screeching halt.”

The group has been practicing every day since and will perform the song and dance routine later this week.

Singers Shayna Cohen and Alex Wilder said they are both nervous about the early morning performance, for which they must arrive at the studio at 6 a.m.

“It’s a little nerve-wracking — it’s all live, there is no place to screw up,” Wilder said. “It’s really early in the morning, too; it will be quite an adventure getting our voices ready.”

Wilder said voices naturally warm up in the course of a day through speaking, so the students will have to be up extra early to prepare their sleepy vocals.

The school played the “Glee”-like video of the students on the schoolwide morning announcements, which made Wilder feel a bit like a star, he said.

“I’m just proud of how far we’ve come,” said Cohen. “I think what’s exciting for me is being able to work with all my friends and do something so much fun and get awarded for it — not from winning, but just being with my friends and having fun.”

The students will perform live on “Good Day Maine” on FOX23 between 8 and 9 a.m. Nov. 10. Camden Hills will compete against the four other finalists, Yarmouth High School, Buckfield High School, Moultonborough Academy in Moultonborough, N.H., and Kennett High School in North Conway, N.H. Videos of their performances will be posted to the FOX23 website and viewers can vote for their favorite starting Nov. 12.

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