Variety show a fundraiser for teacher with cancer

Dori O'Neal, Herald staff writerApril 26, 2013 

The Richland High music and theater departments are doing something different for their spring show.

The school will present a variety show that includes performances from the high school's choir, bands and drama students.

"The different performance selections are all inspiring," said Ellicia Elliott, RHS drama director. "We have never produced a show quite like this one before. It has been so inspiring watching the students and volunteers all work toward a common goal of helping a member of our performing arts family."

Some of the performances are serious drama, such as the song For Good from Wicked, and some are monologues from The Diary of Anne Frank. There will even be a splash of humor in the show featuring a sketch from Monty Python's The Knights of Ni and All For the Best from Godspell, she added. There will be scenes from plays and dance and instrumental numbers.

The show is a fundraising event for Richland High's choir teacher Greg Fryhling.

"Greg is battling cancer this year and just (finished) an intensive stem-cell transplant treatment in Seattle," Elliott said. "Instead of our traditional musical, which we couldn't do because I was on maternity leave and Greg was gone, the substitute teachers for choir and drama along with Jason Rose, the instrumental music teacher, put together a benefit performance for Greg."

You Raise Me Up will be performed April 26-27 in the school's auditorium at 930 Long Ave. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults and $7 for students and seniors. Proceeds will be donated to Fryhling's family to help offset his medical expenses.

All performances are in some way favorites of Fryhling, Elliott said. Justin Raffa, artistic director for the Mid-Columbia Mastersingers, choreographer Anna Newbury and theater teacher Erin Dickey are lending their expertise to the show.

"Bryan Foley will be our special guest artist for one of the musical numbers," Elliott said.

Last summer, Fryhling was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that develops in the bone marrow. Fryhling explains on his Caring Bridge website that the disease has rogue blood cells that won't die like they're supposed to after treatment. Those cells release a toxin that eats away at the bone, causing a Swiss cheese effect in his bones.

Fryhling had a stem-cell transplant in January that he says went well, and he is back teaching again.

"A treatment like he had, although very powerful and extremely helpful, also is very expensive," Elliott said.

"We are hoping for a good turnout for this show because the more people who attend this special performance, the more we can help out Greg."

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @dorioneal

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