Perhaps these words of advice are too late. Perhaps all you high school students are settled into the semester and the time for changing your schedule is over. Or, perhaps you're so completely booked in other after-school activities you can hardly think about taking on another.

But, if it's not too late ... Get in your high school's musical!

Listen to me, don't roll your eyes. You don't have to go out for the lead. You don't have to worry that someone is going to make you sing a big solo or do a big dance number.

The beauty of a high school musical is that, generally, the choruses are large enough that a whole lot of students can get involved.

Here are a couple of things to consider:

• You'll make many, many friends. Here's the backstage scoop: When you're in the chorus, you don't have the pressure the leads do, and you have more downtime. So, what do you do? Sit backstage and talk (quietly, of course) with other cast members. Plenty of friendships and perhaps prom dates have been forged while the leads are busy learning their lines.

• Students have gained confidence, conquered stuttering and overcome shyness just by stepping on a stage, in character.

• Unlike some after-school activities, the musicals have males and females mixing and mingling together. Again, more friends, of both genders, equals more fun at lunch and at the football games.

• For the males. ... I realize that theater sometimes has a stigma — which saddens me. But let me remind you women outnumber men in theater. That means you'll be surrounded by all sorts of cute, outgoing, energetic, sharp and talented girls who dance, sing and can even talk in an accent. That doesn't sound so bad, does it?

Without even mentioning the obvious (such as learning new skills, possibly discovering what you're meant to do in life and the feeling of pride when you hear the applause), I dare say your experience with the high school musical will be remembered for many, many years.

It's just food for thought.

By the way, this list applies to getting involved in community theater, too.

Here's what's happening on the Great White Way:

Xana-over: It is time to say good-bye to Kira and Sonny Maline (which is how you say Malone with a fake Australian accent). Producers have announced the Tony-nominated musical will close Oct. 12. It will have played 49 previews, 528 performances and garnered a whole lot of laughs. The national tour heads out next year (starring Elizabeth Stanley, now playing Eliza in "My Fair Lady," at Pioneer Theatre).

Chicag-wo: Sorry ... having fun with word play ... The latest tour of "Chicago," which kicks off in November, will star audience favorite Tom Wopat. The former "Dukes of Hazard" brother has been here before, with "Chicago" and "Annie Get Your Gun," most recently.

Dream come true: It will be for someone. Audition announcements came down for the Broadway revival of "Dreamgirls." And it sounds like all roles are open — with principal auditions to begin Oct. 2. Rehearsals and performances will get under way in the fall of next year.

Breaking Broadway news: Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Andrew Lloyd Webber officially announced the name of the sequel to "Phantom of the Opera." During his birthday celebration in Hyde Park, he thanked the folks who've helped him with his career and then said, "I can exclusively reveal tonight, (the sequel) will be called, "Love Never Dies." So there you have it.


E-mail: ehansen@desnews.com