School musical “Ranked” relates to student struggles


Carys Brightwell

The main characters of “Ranked” gather after their show on Saturday the 14th.

Carys Brightwell

Midtown is one of only 50 high schools to perform the new musical, “Ranked.”

“Ranked,” composed by David Taylor Gomes and written by Kyle Holmes, is a dystopian musical where students’ academic ranking define their worth.

“In the play, the only factor for college, for life, is whatever your class rank is,” Jacob Dreiling, theater teacher and producer of “Ranked” said. “Grades don’t contribute that much and that number is the only thing that matters. In the play they draw a line and say, ‘these people are above the average and these people are below the average,’ and it turns out that that line is arbitrary. It’s not a real average. They just draw a line, decide who’s above, who’s below and there’s a class struggle that goes along with it.”

Dreiling thinks students can relate to “Ranked” and the struggles the characters go through. Its relatability is a big reason why he chose it. 

“I think the reason I chose it is because it’s the subject matter that high school students are thinking about and dealing with,” Dreiling said. “It touches on some real things that are happening. So much so that it’s very hard to stay in character and not let that be affected.”

Senior Lily Morris, played Carly in “Ranked,” and also choreographed the musical. 

“Mr. Dreiling asked me to choreograph the play last summer,” Morris said. “He came to me so early because there are about four dance numbers in the show and they each took around three hours to fully choreograph. It’s a large time commitment, plus teaching it all takes a long time.”

“Ranked” is not just relatable but stemmed from cheating scandals, including the 2009 scandal that occured within Atlanta Public Schools (APS). 

“The guy who wrote it wrote it based on a lot of the cheating scandals that were happening around the country, including APS,” Dreiling said. “When we [the producers] were talking on the phone, I said, we’re from APS. He’s said that’s bizarre because that’s one of the things that made me write this musical. So in a way, we kind of spurned the subject matter a little bit, which is kind of cool.”

Dreiling thought a live orchestra would go well with the play, and would add more uniqueness. 

“Anytime we get to have a live band, we try it,” Dreiling said. “It worked out this year. It hasn’t been the easiest, but we figured it out. It’s been five years since we were able to do it. The pandemic was obviously troublesome to make that happen.”

Junior Stella Fredrick, who plays bass, is in the live orchestra that is playing for “Ranked.” 

“My teacher told me about the musical, then asked if I could play in the pit for “Ranked,”” Frederick said. “We’re playing 34 songs, but a lot of them are for scene changes.”

One of Dreiling’s favorite part of the musical was the playlist. 

“I love the music. It is incredible; it really is,” Dreiling said. “I don’t usually listen to the music for a show that I’m about to do, but the music was so engaging that I was constantly on my playlist. In fact, I looked at my end of year playlist and all of my top ten songs are from the play.”

Senior Wesley Stewart, who played John Carter, one of the lead characters, finds the vibe of the play to be fast moving.

“The vibe of the show is very panicked, but becomes forgiving and it can be redemptive.” Stewart said. 

Many actors found the play easy to see themselves in. 

“I think it’s very relatable to the audience,” Stewart said. “It really nails it on the head when it comes to how it will connect the audience in an emotional and incredibly natural way.” 

Sophmore Eden Sharp, who saw the play, was impressed with how good it was. 

“I went to the closing night show for Ranked and I loved it,” Sharp said. “I know a lot of the actors who were in the show because I’m in a class with them, so I was already aware of how good it was going to be, but it really didn’t expect it to be that good. I really liked all of the music and I loved the fact that every character was so well developed and written.”