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Summer 2014 – Musical Theatre Workshop

It is a pleasure to spend two weeks in a group with the same goal.  Yes, there are rocky moments, disagreements, but the power of the collective will is an impressive force.

Cristina, Audrey and I chose a very challenging musical for this year’s workshop.  That being said, we have become highly confident in the ability of our young performers to live up to high standards while also finding joy in the process of developing a show.  We have seen it time and again in our 4 years leading this workshop series.

Each student is told from the very first day that they will switch roles from week 1 to week 2.  Our performers know this up front, though it is not always easy to let go of a character.  By design, students are forced to be a bit more selfless and adaptable.  Our students come away from the workshop more flexible and less competitive thus strengthening the team concept and overall quality of our program.

We are serious about putting on great shows, though we will not sacrifice the learning opportunities for our young performers.  Our focus is on better preparing them to handle future successes and setbacks.  Our focus is on helping them move forward in the wider world, not just in the theatre.  Yes, some will pursue theatre and we take care to nurture their abilities to a more honed and professional level, but many students participate in theatre for the camaraderie, friendship, and joy of it.  We feel strongly that both goals can be accomplished simultaneously.

Matilda is a story about a young girl with special gifts, not the least of which is a high capacity for reading and learning well beyond her years.  The main character, Matilda, confronts the verbal abuse and neglect of her parents while Ms. Trunchbull’s insistence on following rigid and insensible rules pushes her to make some difficult choices.  Ms. Honey, Matilda’s teacher, resolves to help “this little girl, this miracle.”  There are many twists, turns, and surprises, but I will not spoil it by telling you specifics.  If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading Roald Dahl’s Matilda or attending a production of Matilda, The Musical, make plans now.

Matilda served our musical theatre workshop well.  It was a very empowering message for students, especially girls, with Matilda being a strong character.  She overcomes much adversity throughout and, in the end, finds love.  Our staff delves into the themes and lessons of the story and looks closely at the characters, discussing their motivations and behaviors with our students.  Becoming one of the characters can greatly enhance a student’s ability to empathize with others, while also developing a greater sense of personal strength.

What a pleasure to spend two weeks working towards a goal with motivated young performers, overcoming adversity and using the power of the group to prevail.

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