Ojai helps Nordhoff's production of ‘Something Rotten!’ May 6-8

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Photo by Kim Hoj

There’s a lot of dance action in “Something Rotten!” Here, Brianna Turner and Addysyn Johnson kick-start a dance tune, and in between them are Dieter Umholtz and McKenna Turner joining in.

By John Hankins 

Special to the Ojai Valley News

Nordhoff High School’s annual musical may be entitled “Something Rotten!” yet it’s anything but to the greater Ojai community that came together in a big way to ensure the show must go on — live!

This important musical tradition was stymied the last two years due to the pandemic. It resumes
May 6 to 8. 

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

Off the starting block, this fun musical satire of Shakespeare being the “rock star” of Renaissance theater in 1595 and threatened by the upstart Bottom brothers was scrapped earlier this year. 

When Jen Miller heard the news, she asked the Music Department if she could craft a staff willing to fit in conflicting schedules. Miller was the videographer and editor of last May’s Zoom musical called “The Theory of Relativity.”

“We are grateful we could make it happen, and so are the students” said Kim Hoj, co-producer for the play and Nordhoff dance teacher. Her husband, John Hoj, signed on as director and brought his sense of humor, too. 

It couldn’t be done without community help from Optimists, Rotary, and individual community members. Also, Nordhoff’s dance, music and theater departments, along with department parent groups such as Maestro (Music Department), Dance Alliance (Dance) and the Nordhoff Parent Association. 

More than half the tickets are already sold, many by word of mouth, indicating a pent-up demand for live musical theater by Nordhoff students, faculty and the community.

A sweet addition that proves Nordhoff’s
education is that three of the production team are alumni: Claire Cleary (2007) as lighting director, which includes digital backgrounds; Emily Redman Hall (2012) came onboard as vocal director; and Gianna Burright (2010) is doing original choreography that is contemporary and includes tap, jazz and a blend of different styles to match the music and lyrics.

In fact, Burright is teaching (at UCSB, among others) and works professionally in those categories. She is one of only eight people tapped for the prestigious “Mecca” for dancers — the Jacob’s Pillow Institute in Massachusetts. 

For someone from the small school of Nordhoff to reach the “best of the best” level is a source of pride, Kim Hoj noted.

“It is spectacular, beautiful and fun and the kids are so passionate about it,” Burright said.

While in the thick of rehearsals, there were two cast changes: McKenna Turner will transform into character Nick Bottom, and sister Brianna will start the show as the Minstrel, along with being the Dance Captain and a “Bard girl.”

Take note: The musical is back live at Matilija Middle School’s stage presenting four
performances on Friday, May 6, Saturday, May 7 (two performances), and Sunday, May 8. Tickets are only $15 for K-12 students; adults are $20. More details and tickets are available at:


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