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Alumni Feature: Hannah Miller

Mary Stanton, Writer/A&E Section Editor

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After last year’s successful New Milford High School Spring Musical, Legally Blonde: The Musical, all eyes were turned to the music department to see which show would be performed next and who the director would be. After months of deliberation, it was decided that NMHS graduate Hannah Miller (13) would be the lucky director.

Miller was an active member of the NMHS Music Department and was “in every music related program” NMHS had.

“I was band majorette and president of the Tri-M Music Honor Society, as well as a participant in the drama club and dance program. I was also a member of the National Honor Society, Thespian Honor Society, and the National Society of High School Scholars. I also did Bergen County Choir, where I placed 8th in the county, and the Regions Choir.”

Even though Miller was a huge part of the music department, she went to college with the intent to study in the science department.

“I graduated with a concentration in the S.T.E.M. Academy which I thought would lend itself to my career, as I started out as an Animal Science Major at UMass Amherst.”

After a long time of searching, Miller finally found her calling.

“I’m currently a Theater B.A. major with a completed minor in Psychology, it took me 3 colleges and 9 majors to figure out what I wanted to do. I’m currently attending Rutgers University in New Brunswick, which has given me the chance to work with three different theater companies, including the Crossroads Theater Company, which has won a Tony Award. Even though I have a lot of problems figuring out what I wanted to do as a career, I knew almost immediately that Animal Science wasn’t for me. I transferred out after my first semester and took up a music major, which I also quickly figured out wasn’t for me. I ended up taking a class called ‘The History of Musical Theater’, which planted a seed in me that grew into what I really wanted to do: Direct musicals–specifically musicals, not plays.”

On returning to her alma mater, Miller commented by saying,“Coming back to direct was something I thought of briefly, but I was so busy struggling to find the right fit that it wasn’t until I worked on ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’ at Rutgers that I knew that I wanted to come back.”

Miller’s choice of “The Drowsy Chaperone” came to her suddenly.  “It’s a very clear moment in my memory when I think back on it. I was sitting on the floor watching the Livingston Theater Company’s production of ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’ and it has everything I love in a musical–tap dancing, comedy, and most importantly, a message that really hits home with the audience. I fell in love halfway through, and I knew as soon as Robert (a character in the musical) started tap dancing during ‘Cold Feets’ that as my musical director debut, I wanted to come back to NMHS and direct this specific show with this specific cast. I admit I had a bit of an advantage because I knew the kids–they were freshmen when I was a senior. But this only solidified my decision to do this show because I knew the range of talent and that we could absolutely blow this show out of the water. I have been planning on how to do this show since the summer, so as we move forward, I feel completely confident in my cast and excited to begin working.”

The producers, Mrs. Ferro and Mrs. Beiner, who were a part of the search for a new director for this upcoming year commented:

“Hannah Miller is continuing the tradition of alumni returning to direct the NMHS Spring Musical. This tradition started with Rob McClure and has become something every graduate who majors in Musical Theatre looks forward to participating in.The alumni director is chosen by an interview process. The alumni is asked during the interview to share the rationale for the show they would like to direct and their vision for it’s completion. Using an alumni director does provide challenges for the alumni must be willing to give up four months of their personal time to work with the talented students. The director must obtain a sub licence so they must have completed at least 60 college credits and be fingerprinted for security reasons. After interviewing Hannah, the selection committee (The Producers, Musical Director and NMHS principal, Lou Manupelli) were impressed by her passion, organizational skills, and willingness to work with the rest of the creative team”.

Senior Justin Flores, who plays “Man in Chair”, the narrator, who is obsessed with the show “The Drowsy Chaperone,” says that, “She’s really committed to the production. It was really reassuring to hear that she took off from school and moved back home just to be with us. It’s also really amazing to finally be playing a role that I’ve pined for so long.”

The hype of another alumni returning to direct is clear and the rehearsals are in full swing for the next two months. Set build is scheduled for Saturday, February 6 at 10 a.m. and information on a Benefit Concert will follow soon.  You can see “The Drowsy Chaperone” on March 17, 18, or 19 in the James Africano Auditorium at NMHS.


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Alumni Feature: Hannah Miller