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Leading Role: Coronado senior stars in UTEP production of The Wedding Singer

(CORONADO HIGH SCHOOL – Jan. 27) – When UTEP Dinner Theater fans sit down to watch their staging of “The Wedding Singer” starting this Friday, they will get to witness the talent of an El Paso ISD student as the female lead in the 1980s-themed musical comedy.

Coronado High senior Morgan Baily, who made her UTEP Dinner Theater acting debut at age 8, was cast as Julia in this stage version of the 1998 movie.

“It’s very surreal,” said Baily, who confessed to not having seen the movie until after being cast on the show. “It’s been a great experience. I genuinely love being in this production.”

The Wedding Singer tells the story of Robbie Hart, a 1980s rock star wannabe and New Jersey's favorite wedding singer. He's the life of the party until his own fiancée leaves him at the altar. Shot through the heart, Robbie makes every wedding as disastrous as his own.

Baily’s character, Julia, is a winsome waitress who wins Robbie’s affection, although she herself is about to marry a Wall Street shark. The story of the show centers around Robbie’s antics to win her over.

“I like that Julia does what she feels is right,” Baily said. “She’s a very empathetic character.”

While it’s not unusual for a high school student to be cast in the UTEP Dinner Theater productions, director Jaime Barba said it’s been decades since one has been cast in a leading role.

“Morgan definitely has performance qualities of a more seasoned performer – qualities you do not see in someone at such a young age and at the start of their ‘performing’ career,” Barba said. “I taught theatre at the high school level for many years before coming to UTEP and finding a young person with her abilities is rare. She has natural acting abilities, and her singing voice is as clear and performance ready as someone who has been doing this for years.”

Baily, who plans to study musical theater in college, has also performed in “Little Women,” “Godspell,” “She Kills Monsters,” “Christmas Carol” and “Heathers.”

“I’ve wanted to be on stage and perform for a living since my first show back in 2013 and it’s so amazing that I’ve been given so many opportunities to do what I love,” Baily said. 

The soprano, who grew up in a family with musical and artistic abilities, began vocal training with Youth Opera of El Paso in 2016.

“Not only are her performance abilities seasoned, but she also shows the responsibility of someone who takes what they are doing very seriously,” Barba said. “She is always prepared. She takes direction very well. She takes the work seriously and, more importantly for a performer, wants to get better. She has a great work ethic, which is rare for young people today.”

“The Wedding Singer” runs through Friday through Feb. 13. For more information, click here

Story by Reneé de Santos
Photos by UDT