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Paynesville Press - September 15, 2004

Local 4-Her performs in musical at state fair

By Bonnie Jo Hanson

reeck This summer, Megan Reeck sang and danced her way to the Minnesota State Fair. As a member of the cast of "Stand Tall," a statewide 4-H Arts-In production, Reeck performed more than 40 times during the state fair.

Performing four half-hour shows every day for more two weeks, Reeck shimmied and sang to numbers like "Footloose" and "Too Hot to Samba" to help promote 4-H.

"Stand Tall" is a musical about a group of shipwrecked people who wait to be rescued from a deserted island. When pirates land on the island, they believe they will be rescued, but it turns out that the pirates are too lazy to even look for buried treasure, let alone rescue a hoard of islanders. Eventually, the islanders encourage the pirates to get moving and find an adventure.

The message of the production was that excitement and adventure are always just around the corner, and 4-H can help kids see what's out there, said Reeck. In fact, after each show, the cast and crew greeted the audience in an effort to spread the message that 4-H is fun and exciting.

play Reeck, a junior at PAHS, learned about Arts-In as a youngster attending the state fair, she said. Every year for more than ten years, she has been active in 4-H as a member of the Koronis Konquerors. Each year at the state fair, Reeck watched the production in the 4-H building and planned to join as soon as she was old enough.

Megan Reeck (far right) performed in the musical "Stand Tall," a statewide 4-H Arts-In presentation, at the Minnesota State Fair.

Once she applied and was accepted to the program, however, she was shocked at the discipline and work required to put on the large production with a cast and crew of more than 50 teens and young adults.

Reeck is a member of the PAHS danceline and the choir, but before joining the production she had no formal dance or musical training.

The cast of "Stand Tall" had just one week to prepare for the production, said Reeck. With practice days that were up to 10 hours long, the group needed to be dedicated to the show. For instance, Reeck was expected to learn the lyrics to nine songs by the end of the first day of practice and dance numbers were expected to be learned quickly, also.

"It's amazing that it only took one week from start to finish to learn the program," said Reeck. This was only possible because of dedicated directors, dance instructors, and other crew members, she added.

Before the curtain raised for the first show during the fair, the cast and crew moved into the 4-H dormitories where they remained for two weeks. Because of the heat and the late lights-out in the dorm, sleep was difficult, and most days Reeck was exhausted and napped between shows.

Finding time to work on her state 4-H projects was also difficult due to her busy schedule. One night, Reeck found herself in the 4-H building in the middle of the night working on a food project because that was the only spare time she had.

But Reeck is still thrilled she participated in the program. Besides having a blast and making new friends, she learned about 4-H on the state level, she said.

Singing and dancing became so second nature that by the end of the show's two-week run, the most difficult part was making each show "new," said Reeck.

Reeck isn't sure if she will join the Arts-In production again. While she enjoyed the experience, the time commitment was difficult, she said. As the first cast member from central Minnesota, however, Reeck hopes she opened the door for other area 4-Hers to try Arts-In.

Reeck isn't sure what she wants to do when she finishes high school, but she hasn't ruled out continuing to perform, she said.

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