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HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL: Original, student-written and composed production to debut in Jerusalem this week

Meet the senior leading the charge and hoping for a career in musical theatre

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – Six years ago, after making aliyah to Israel from the United States, a young student taught himself to play the piano.

Soon, he was writing, composing and recording his own original songs and playing them for family and friends.

Last year, as a junior, he and a classmate co-wrote an original musical for the Anglican International School in Jerusalem.

The production was a surprise hit and generated great interest in a sequel.

So, this week, he, the cast and crew will unveil their new musical called, “Vines of Decay.”

The senior’s name is Noah Rosenberg. If that name rings a bell, that’s because he’s the son of the founder of ALL ISRAEL NEWS.

Noah Rosenberg (Photo courtesy)

The following is the interview ALL ISRAEL NEWS did with the director, Noah Rosenberg, lightly edited for clarity.

ALL ISRAEL NEWS: Noah, why don't you tell us the summary of your musical. What's its name and what's its basic theme?

NOAH ROSENBERG: The name of the musical is “Vines of Decay,” and it's an entirely student-led production that I've been writing and directing. It's a musical that takes the perspective of the villain of the story rather than the hero. What happens when we look at their life? Why do they make the choices that they make, and can they find redemption?

Now, this is a sequel to my previous musical, “Meadow in The Medleys,” which I co-wrote last year with the fantastic Milana Gerrish. That first show was about a girl with serious social anxiety and how she learned to love herself and understand who she really is. And it took her breaking her relationship with her best friend – the villain, “Grace” – to really grow as a person. But with this musical we explore Grace’s character, and how she thinks she's this popular person and that everyone loves her. And then she realizes that her perception is skewed. She’s introduced to the personifications of her emotions, who are trying to get her to come to terms with the fact that everything she's thought about herself was a lie.

ALL ISRAEL NEWS: That is fascinating. Why don’t you tell us what the dates of the musical are? And, where it’s being performed?

NOAH ROSENBERG: The opening night is March 30. That's a Thursday at 6 p.m., and then we have another performance on Friday, March 31 at 1:30 p.m. It’s being performed at the Anglican International School of Jerusalem, where all the cast and crew attend.

All of the proceeds of ticket sales are being donated to a mental health organization for teenagers called “Crossroads Jerusalem.” This is actually the second year that we've donated the proceeds because our story is all about teenage mental health. It was really important that our story shares the message that mental health problems are serious and that there's a real struggle among youth in our city. And Crossroads does an amazing job with the rehabilitation of teenagers on the streets, partly through creative arts. So, it's a really amazing program, and we’ve had the pleasure of getting to know them better.

ALL ISRAEL NEWS: Have there ever been any student-written, student-composed, student-directed plays or musicals in Anglican School history?

NOAH ROSENBERG: Our production last year was the first!

ALL ISRAEL NEWS: Why do they let you do it?

NOAH ROSENBERG: Well, we have two incredible music mentors, Mrs. Litoff and Mr. Carlos. And they put a lot of trust in us. They knew that teenagers, who have big dreams, have the capability to do a lot if they’re just given the chance. They’ll make mistakes, but that’s part of the growing process. They are always there for us when it gets difficult, they always encourage us to keep going. And in many ways, they have been the most influential people in my life.

ALL ISRAEL NEWS: How many different nationalities are represented in the musical?

NOAH ROSENBERG: We have students from 14 countries. So, there's a lot of diversity within the cast and the crew, which is something that's really spoken volumes into the actual story itself because there are so many perspectives and so many backgrounds, that all influence how they represent their characters.

ALL ISRAEL NEWS: And you're a senior. What are you hoping to do next?

NOAH ROSENBERG: Yeah, so I'm graduating this June and I've done all my applications for university. I am going to either a university in England or a university in Scotland. And my dream is to, you know, write and direct musicals that hopefully one day we'll see on Broadway or the West End. And I'm not going to stop until I make that happen, so I'm going to university for musical theatre. You can't actually specify that you want to be a director from the beginning, so I plan on doing performance-based work for three years and then going into directing. I think the best directors are the ones that know the intricacies of what it takes to be an actor and to have that mindset and be able to write in a manner that that an actor can really portray.

Production of “Vines of Decay” (Photo courtesy)

ALL ISRAEL NEWS: So the last question is why should someone who is not part of your school, or part of the Anglican broader community, why would they be interested in coming?

NOAH ROSENBERG: So obviously this show is an AISJ production, it's students from our school, but the story is universal. It's a story that every teenager has experienced, whether they were popular or not. It's a story that's relatable to the core experience that everyone has. And it's entertaining, it's funny, it’s heartwarming, and sometimes it’s scary. But it’s a show where you can experience something that you felt before and it's nostalgic for, you know, the older generations, and it's too hilariously relatable to the experiences of other high-school students.

ALL ISRAEL NEWS: Well, break a leg!

Read more: MUSICAL

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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