New Way Academy just closed the curtain on their first musical, Willy Wonka, Jr, and the show was amazing!
After the talent show last school year, Principal Mike Walker and I were discussing the incredible amount of talent that our students posses. It was wonderful to see what they were capable of, but they needed more. It was in this moment that the idea of New Way Academy’s first ever musical was born.
New Way had never done this before, I had never directed before, and the school was not really set up for a production of the magnitude I was envisioning, so we immediately got to work. Patrick Watson, our music teacher, and I picked a musical based on the number of students that were interested and the process began. We held formal auditions and callbacks because we wanted the students to have a “real theater experience”. Even though it was a “no cut” audition, the kids were assigned to the appropriate parts based on their performance during auditions.
In the mean time, the stage needed to be prepped for holding a full scale musical. Storage cabinets were removed from the stage, parent volunteers graciously painted the stage black and a generous grant allowed for lighting and sound to be installed and new curtains to be hung. Slowly the space was transformed into a stage worthy of a show.
To say that this “took a village” is an understatement! Steve Abbott, husband of one of our reading teachers, constructed all of the big set pieces and our advanced art class, under the instruction of Ms. Bonnell, painted and designed the rest of the props. Mr. Boone’s yearbook staff helped design posters and the playbill, and that hardly scratches the surface of the amount of help we received.
The true shining stars through this whole process were our actors and techies. They committed to a year long musical and in the end they pulled off something magical! Leads Zandra Hill and Liam Jacoby, along with the rest of the cast, took my expectations to a whole new level! Two productions later, we have a school that is buzzing an excitement that will take a while to dissipate, and rightfully so, because these kids deserve it!
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