ROTC cadets sewing tutus for their school’s winter musical?

It recently happened at Van Horn High School, according to the school’s theater instructor, Annette Doyle.

This year’s winter musical, “White Christmas,” at Van Horn has been a school-wide collaborative effort.

“Our art classes have been busy designing sets, the multicultural club will be providing refreshments on the nights of performances and even ROTC students have shown interest in singing some songs for the musical,” said Doyle, who is also the musical director. “The entire school wanted to be involved.”

This is Doyle’s second year at the high school. During her first year, the school’s principal presented a challenge to her.

“He wanted me to build up the theater program,” Doyle said.

Given the World War II setting and military characters in “White Christmas,” Van Horn’s ROTC students took an active part in the production.

“ROTC students have been busily creating costumes, serving as extras in the play and even harmonizing in some songs,” Doyle said.

ROTC’s participation eventually became contagious to other school clubs by helping out with set construction and hospitality on the show dates. Even former Van Horn teachers, current teachers’ spouses and members of the community donated their time to be part of the musical’s pit orchestra.

“There has been help with this production at a community level, too,” said Doyle.

Although Doyle confesses the reason behind selecting “White Christmas” for this year’s winter musical is because it’s her own personal favorite, she was curious whether or not students would be interested in performing an old-time style production since they were never exposed to this kind before.

“We all watched the movie version of ‘White Christmas’ so I could get their opinion,” Doyle said. “And surprisingly they all loved it.”

“I love old musicals,” said senior Katie Jones, who plays the character of Judy Haynes.

The old-time song and dance numbers and overall family-friendly, old-fashioned entertainment style attracted the Van Horn students to the musical. The play features a song-and-dance team, Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, who pair up with a sister act that does the same thing. At one particular venue where the four are scheduled to perform, the two male performers realize their former Army commander is the owner and hijinks ensue.

“This is going to be amazing,” Doyle said. “It’s a great way to start the holiday. Van Horn High School’s spirit and energy flies off the charts with this show.”