North Fort Myers High School will present the award-winning musical "Miss Saigon: School Edition" for four shows this week in the school's auditorium.
The performances will take place April 11-13 at 7 p.m. and on April 14 at 2 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults and $5 for children.
For the past week, the students have been fine tuning the show and have begun dress rehearsals in preparation for the big night.
Miss Saigon is based on the Puccini opera Madame Butterfly, and tells the tale of a doomed romance between an American soldier and a Vietnamese woman during the early 1970s as the Vietnam War is coming to an end.
The musical was composed by Claude-Michel Schnberg and Alain Boublil, the writers behind Les Miserable.
Michele Whitener, theatre director, said the inspiration behind doing Miss Saigon was the desire to do a serious musical instead of the traditionally comedic ones schools put on.
"It was time to expose our students to a serious musical. We had done West Side Story about 10 years ago and I didn't want to do that again," Whitener said. "It's a real challenge to find a serious musical because most are not."
Whitener said that looking at her roster of returning students, she had a group with strong vocals, which the musical requires.
She found Noelle Aparte, who is perfect in the lead role as Kim, the Asian girl, with Trevor Schmidt in the role of Chris, the Marine sergeant who falls in love with her.
For Aparte, the seriousness of the show makes singing with motion necessary, otherwise the singing will "sound like screaming." But she's ready for it.
"I believe I have the capability of the singing parts and also the fact I have the appearance," Aparte said. "I'm capable of the acting. It's a very serious, strong role. She has a strong personality."
Schmidt said his character is interesting because the marine on the outside and inside are entirely different.
"He seems like this tough Marines, but at the end he has thing big moment where he breaks down because he realizes she let him feel for once," Schmidt said.
The musical also stars Ricky Manning, Lisa Hammon, Ben Lamoureaux, James Yi, and Andrew Stratton, a young boy who plays the role of Kim's son.
"It's real dynamic. There are a lot of big musical numbers, some well-done solos and harmonic duets," Whitener said. "We haven't had a small boy in for a long time, so we recruited (Andrew) from Bayshore Elementary School to play Tam."
However, she had a problem in that Miss Saigon is rated R.
"Luckily, they came out with a school version which took the rating to PG. It's still Miss Saigon and it has very few changes," Whitener said. "All the rough language has been taken out."
Whitener said there are about 60 actors and 24 members of the orchestra taking part, all of them students, since it is a performing arts school. She added there are many others doing set design, lighting, costumes and other things.
"It's a different experience. The music is very grand. I think people are going to find it a different experience," Whitener said.