The Educational Theatre News Roundup for December 1-7, 2019 is a busy one!
A cease-and-desist order!
AND – I managed to pare down the “Winter Holiday Entertainment section to just five items!
AWARDS AND COMPETITIONS
At Wisconsin’s High School Theatre Festival, Waterford Union High School production of The Wrestling Season won many awards.
The Nebraska School Activities Association holds a Play Production contest annually; here’s coverage on Arnold High School’s victory for the D2-5 District competition. Their Hunchback of Notre Dame will advance to the state finals. You can find a list of qualifiers, and when they’re competing, here.
Sophia Schwaner of Stuart Hall School in Staunton, Virginia, is a regional winner of the 2019 Musical Theatre Songwriting Challenge. The National Endowment for the Arts and the American Theatre Wing sponsor the competition. Kimberlea Daggy interviews Schwaner and Greg Reiner, NEA Director of Theatre and Musical Theatre for WMRA. Here’s a list of all the regional winners, along with links to their music.
In Florida, Windermere High’s The Arkansaw Bear advanced to the Southeastern Theatre Conference . They competed in the Florida Theatre Conference (This is a different competition from the Florida State Thespians Conference.)
In Memphis, Playhouse on the Square announced its “10-Minute Play Slam Competition,” there is a division for middle school students in addition to a high school one.
I missed this piece last week on Kearney Catholic High School’s production of Bugzzz. It sounds really interesting; the actors had to become “a colony.” Kearney calls the cast the “one-act team” – one of the actors has “been on” it for “every year of high school – which sounds like strange word choice to me, but maybe it’s someone’s way of emphasizing the one-act competitions?
In West Virginia, Squirrel Girl Goes to College: A Squirrel Girl (and Tippy-Toe!) Play is getting a lengthy production schedule at Buckhannon-Upshur High School. The Record Delta published this piece from a high school Creative Writing Club student. (If Squirrel Girl sounds like an interesting piece to you, check out my PLAY OVERVIEW of the title!)
At Cherokee High School in North Carolina, a group of students who performed in the cast of the district’s FIRST MUSICAL PRODUCTION EVER are getting a chance to do the show again. It’s The Lion King, JR.; their teacher-director, Michael Yannette calls them “The Trailblazers.”
The high school premiere of Kinky Boots, the Musical is at Truman High School in Levittown, Pennsylvania. It’s part of a long-running pilot tradition that started with former teacher-director Lou Volpe, for whom Truman’s auditorium is now named.
There’s a site-specific production of Heathers: The Musical happening at Westerville North High School in Summer 2020. It’s a Columbus Children’s Theatre project with “theatre visionary” Brian Clowdus, whose name and face is featured in the publicity materials.The publicity announcement is a little hyperbolic; is it groundbreaking to take a musical set in a high school and set it IN a high school?
In Mesa, Arizona, Stage 48 presents an original musical, Merlin and Morgana. Andrea McFeely, wrote the book, and Karli Kemper, along with Sammi Merkley, and Calli Overstreet, wrote the music and lyrics. McFeely and Kemper are the artistic directors of the theatre company. The East Valley Tribune has an in-depth article on the show .
A devised theatre piece created by San Diego LGBTQ+ youth, Danny’s Story will be presented in Forum Theatre style. Developed by Augusto Boal, audience members in Forum Theatre are simultaneously spectators and actors.
Stage One’s Short Attention Span Theatre is BOTH a “New Work” AND “Holiday Entertainment.” It’s happening near Jefferson City, Missouri.
WINTER HOLIDAY ENTERTAINMENTS CONTINUE!
Armijo High School students perform in A Victorian Christmas at Adobe Theatre in Vacaville. From teacher-director Sheena Beeson’s description of the event, I’m not sure what to call their version of A Christmas Carol: “As I read to the kids, they’ll kind of act out what I read and then meander and interact with the attendees.”
In California’s Palm Springs Area, David Green’s Musical Theatre University (for “students in grades 8-13”?) presents a revue, Broadway at the River. There are several other productions featured in the piece.
Main Street Theatre in Houston presents The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
In San Diego, Write Out Loud presents Home for the Holidays, a collection of pieces drawn from children’s literature with additional music.
Moapa Valley High School in Nevada performs A Christmas Chaos, a madcap version of A Christmas Carol. A Christmas Chaos, by Michael Wehrli, is available from Heuer Publishing.
Could there be a “more jolly” place to see A Christmas Carol than HOLLY High School? In Holly, Michigan? During the Holly Dickens Festival? I don’t think so!
The Mystery of the Murders in the Tent is simultaneously a “Cautionary Tale” and a “New Work.” Aspen high school student Eliza Domingos wrote musical version of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. Then, she had to completely rewrite and rework the piece because she didn’t obtain permission from the source material’s author. The piece was titled A Series of Unfortunate Events, and it doesn’t appear like there was any attempt to parody the work. Domingos and her teacher-director got a cease-and-desist order from Daniel Handler’s lawyer. (It’s not mean; he has a right to protect his intellectual property.)
Alexander Hamilton High School in Westchester, New York has canceled its production of Tarzan. The announcement of the planned production resulted in complaints from two parents of students. The principal says the decision was about “listening” to the parents’ concerns, but it’s unclear whether the teacher-director of the musical was involved in the conversation to respond to those concerns. Did the complaining parents read the script, or had they seen a performance of Tarzan, the Stage Musical? As Howard Sherman of the Arts Integrity Initiative says in the above article:
“No differently than the public at large should not be deciding what’s in the school library or what plays the sports teams should run, school theatre should not be singled out as being subject to some consensus opinion of people who may not be stakeholders in the school community or specifically the drama program itself. “
Some outlets are reporting that Tarzan’s replacement is Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night; though the Bard supplied the source material, it’s actually The Public Works’ musical adaptation of Twelfth Night being performed. Kudos to Peter D. Kramer of the Rockland/Westchester Journal News, who ended the above article with a comment on Twelfth Night, Tarzan’s replacement: “Twelfth Night also involves a shipwreck. And a woman who dresses as a man.”
Holly Williams has a great piece about disability onstage and onscreen for the BBC. There is a section on Teenage Dick by Mike Lew.
If you’re interested in reading more about theatre and disabilities, there’s a great book on inclusion in theatre education – Barrier-Free Theatre.
Allentown, Pennsylvania’s PPL Electric Utilities donated $5,000 to the Freddy Awards program. It’s through the Commonwealth’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program. You should check to see if your theatre/troupe/club is eligible to benefit from a local EITC!