By TIM CLEVELAND
During the four years he has been involved in choir – first at Frank Ohl Intermediate School and now at Austintown Middle School – Evan Shobel has been involved in several outstanding performances.
The eighth-grader will add another to his list as he and the rest of the AMS choir will be the lead in this year’s production of “Once On This Island, Jr.”
The performance will be offered at Salem Community Theatre. Opening night will be Feb. 28, with performances on March 1 and 2. The cast will also perform on March 5 for the Salem elementary and preschools. More performances will be offered March 7-9.
Shobel will perform as the character Ton Ton Julian and will be showcased in a number of vocals.
In addition to performing in choir, Shobel is also in AMS’s Chorale.
“I am very nervous about being in this performance,” Shobel said. “I have never had this many solos and speaking parts, and since at those times I am the only one talking or singing, and there are fewer people in the audience, there is more of a chance of someone catching a mistake if I make one.”
Shobel’s mother, Shannan Shobel-Jursa, said Shobel out-performed her expectations.
“We are extremely proud of Evan, it took a lot of courage for him to audition,” she said. “I don’t think it’s easy for any kid to go into another town and try out for a play with a group of other performers that have either worked in past productions or know each other from school. He’s always been a great performer in choir, and he is very outgoing and social in school, but neither of us set our hopes very high to start. I thought it would be great if he could be in the chorus and just be a part of the production. We both figured it’d be a good experience for him and maybe he’d find that he enjoyed it along the way.
“I was delighted when I spoke to the director for his call back and absolutely floored when he got the call offering a leading role. He’s such a character at home, in a pet detective kind of way. I told him on our way to the call back to be the Evan we get to see every day and he’d do just fine. He has everything it takes to light up on stage and we couldn’t be happier that he’ll get the opportunity to go out there and do it.”
Shobel named some of the prior performances he’s been a part of in the past.
“I don’t remember much of choir at Frank Ohl Intermediate School, but I do remember performing “The Lion King” at my sixth-grade spring concert, “Grease” in seventh and now we are doing “West Side Story” in eighth,” he said. “We go on a lot of field trips too with choir, to VA hospitals and other places. This year the Chorale also performed for Austintown Awesome Days.”
When asked what he enjoys most about choir, Shobel said, “Just the singing in general, the winter and spring concerts and learning new music that I never heard before and come to really like.”