Musical director finds replacements for missing roles


Harshita Avirneni

Seniors Sam Smoot, Zander Harrison and Mick Smith (left to right) perform "Thank You for the Music" during the rehearsal run through of Act 1.

Seniors Sam Smoot and Mick Smith have stepped into the lead roles of Sam Charmichael and Bill Austin in this year’s fall musical, “Mamma Mia”. Director Celeste Schneider had to find these replacements after the original leads were pulled from the show and sent to Leander Extended Opportunity Center (LEO) for breaking the Student Code of Conduct.

“I was a little apprehensive at first and kind of freaking out because this is the second year we’ve had to replace a lead,” Schneider said. “It’s just pretty stressful finding boys who can sing, so I was pretty nervous.” 

Replacements for these roles were found and cast within two days. Senior Zander Harrison, who was originally cast as the role of Bill Austin, was also moved to play the role of Harry Bright because the recasting had to account for the singing ranges of all three boys. 

If it’s theatre I want to make a difference in, then it’s theatre I will put my whole heart and soul into.”

— Zander Harrison

“It all comes down to what you are passionate about,” Harrison said. “If it’s theatre I want to make a difference in, then it’s theatre I will put my whole heart and soul into. Transitioning was not that difficult because I had already run the scenes so many times before. Actually, the hardest part was killing the Australian accent and switching to a British one.”

Stage Manager Kelsey Woodrom is also stepping in to reteach the three actors blocking during any free time they can get. She said in doing this she has been able to better understand the show and what actors have to go through.

“Even though it’s been such a short amount of time, they’ve learned so fast and really adapted well,” Woodrom said. “It was difficult [to reteach], but I had a lot of fun because I was able to step in and be that character for a while. I like to be engaged with the cast because it makes me feel more a part of the cast and crew.”

Last year, Schneider went through another similar situation with the production of “The Sound of Music.” A replacement role was needed after a lead got pneumonia a couple weeks before opening.

“Ironically, the person we had to replace last year is the one who saved the show this year,” Schneider said. “[Smoot] was able to step up and really pay it forward. It kind of all came full circle.”


***The show is still on track to be performed on the original show dates: October 24 and 25 at 7:00 p.m., October 26 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. and October 27 at 2:00 p.m.. To buy show tickets visit: