Meet the “Singin’ in the Rain” cast: Community Theatre of Howell is a true family affair for the O’Dells

The Community Theatre of Howell is presenting the musical “Singin’ in the Rain Jr.” this weekend at the Howell High School Freshman Campus. From now until opening night on March 15, we’ll be introducing you to members of the cast. In today’s story, we meet the O’Dell family of Brighton.

With all seven members involved in the current production of “Singin’ in the Rain Jr.,” theater is a truly family affair for the O’Dells of Brighton.

The family includes dad Chris, mom Ashley, and kids Ethan (age 15), Hailey (13), Lucas (11), Noah (9), Zane (7) and Ruby (4).

With opening night coming up on Friday, here’s a closer look at the O’Dells:

Which previous shows have you been involved with?

“Our family has been involved with CTH for many years. We began when our oldest son was 8 years old and have been a part of ‘Little Mermaid Jr.,’ ‘Into the Woods Jr.,’ ‘Honk Jr.,’ ‘Phantom Tollbooth Jr.,’ ‘Dinosaurs Before Dark,’ ‘James and the Giant Peach,’ ‘Tarzan,’ ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,’ ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ ‘A Few Good Men,’ ‘Little Mermaid,’ and now ‘Singin’ in the Rain Jr.’”

What have been your favorite theater experiences?

“We love theater for so many reasons, but our favorite being that we get to all be a part of each show. Whether it’s being on stage, or working crew, or helping with the set or decorating the lobby and ushering..there truly is something for every single person.

“With a large-sized family like ours, it’s very rare to find something that we can all participate in and find joy in, that has us working together toward the same goal.  We don’t have to divide and conquer and spend our time driving to different places to keep up with our kids activities but instead we get to all be a part of something TOGETHER.

“Our youngest two, Zane (7) and Ruby(4), have loved feeling a part of things since they could walk. The people of CTH make them feel so loved and welcomed and important every time they walk through the doors. They are able to help paint and do projects at the theater, too. There is no one too young to help or to be a part of things!

“They both are getting to appear in their very first show with Singin’ in the Rain Jr.” and they couldn’t be more excited to make it to the stage this time! Another experience we enjoy is getting to watch our kids learn the value of hard work, and how to support each other and their friends in every situation. There are also big emotions involved with theater … sometimes you make the big roles, sometimes you don’t … sometimes you’re behind stage supporting others while they shine, and sometimes others are supporting you.

“It’s a humbling experience to know that there are so many people working to make you great on stage and getting to see your other family and friends shine and have their turn is a great thing, too. It’s fun to be a part of either side of that. Everyone that we have gotten to know through CTH is big on encouraging each other. Our kids learn to serve. They learn that nothing great comes without sacrifice and teamwork. And out of that comes great friendships and a true community.”

What’s been your favorite thing about this production?

“I would have to say that my favorite thing about this show is that we took our level of commitment up a notch. For the first time, each of us are a part of the show. I (Ashley) have always had a part of parent volunteer, which has been special in and of itself, but this time I have had the joy to get to work as assistant choreographer. Seeing these kids work so hard to produce a quality show they can be proud of is something that has really blessed me.

“I always knew they were working hard and having fun … but getting to see it firsthand at each rehearsal has been inspiring.

“Ethan (our oldest) has been on stage many times and experienced the fun of some big roles, but now is serving as assistant stage manager and gets to support his siblings and some of his closest friends in their turns on stage. Chris is working crew (under the leadership of Ethan) which has been fun and a unique experience.

“The other 5 kiddos of ours get to have the joy of being a part of the cast, two of them for the very first time. This truly is an “all in” show for us. CTH has become our family. It really is something that is special and dear to us.”

What can the audience expect to see with this show?

“I think as an audience member you can expect to see a high-quality, family-friendly show that brings back the joy of the classics. It is a show that has never lost its luster in all these years … and you get to experience its shine. What a great way to spend an evening with your family! Seeing a timeless show put on by some hardworking people who love to bring joy to the community … live theater is where it’s at!”

“Singin’ in the Rain Jr.” takes the stage March 15-17 at the Howell High School Freshman Campus.  Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with 2 p.m. matinees on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $9, available by clicking here.

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