It is done. The final chapter of our Produce a Musical series! All the rehearsals, all the meetings, all the strategizing and brainstorming, all the costumes and make-up. On Friday, June 24th the students put on their final performance of Disney’s The Jungle Book Kids and it was AWESOME!
The students, the teachers, and the parents all pulled together and created a wonderfully joyful and rich experience and produce a musical series for all involved – especially the students. I could not have been happier with how it turned out.
For anyone who has been following this Produce a Musical series of articles, the production team only implemented some of the ideas I described in the last article which were intended to keep the students engaged and feeling positive about the process.
I think the fact that the performance became real was a big part of keeping the energy up. The costumes were finalized, the set was up, the t-shirts were made and distributed, the tickets were being sold and a song was performed at a school assembly to advertise the show – the end was in sight and that energized everyone involved.
The response to the show was overwhelming. There was so much positive feedback and excitement from the whole school community. Although there were only 40 students in the cast, there were about 400 tickets sold over 2 nights. That was a thrill given that we had not done any advertising other than the one song sneak peak at a school assembly and the 2 in-school dress rehearsals for the whole student body.
Teachers kept remarking they didn’t know the talent these students had who had come through their classrooms. Teachers spoke of chills and tears in their eyes. The smiles of the actors were all I needed to see.
At the cast party held just one week after the show, the students viewed one of their performances. Rather than sitting quietly and watching, they sang along, recited lines and performed dance moves. They were truly reliving the experience and loving every second of it. I had students ask if we were going to do the same show next year and sounded truly disappointed that we would not. Just when I thought they’d gotten sick of singing those songs!
What Would We Change?
So with all this good will, I leave with a sobering thought. The production team had a cast party of their own after school at a local restaurant to enjoy one another’s company without the pressure of a performance looming. We also took some time to talk about what worked and what might need to change if we were to put on another production next year.
After all the things that went well, the general consensus was that it was a great deal of work and that if we were to do it again, we would need more help. We would need to parcel up the responsibilities even more and enlist more teachers, more parents, and even more students. Our school and therefore our staff is relatively small and as with most organizations, it is the few who do so much.
I left with the clear message that the team was not ready to do it again without more support. I can’t blame them. It was a huge undertaking. As good as our teamwork was, and I think it was really good, an organization cannot count on the few who are willing to go that extra mile.
Our challenge, should we choose to try another show next year, will be to get more of our community behind the endeavor. I really hope we can. The way it brought our community together and brought confidence and joy to those students involved, it would be a huge missed opportunity if we could not garner the support we need to move forward.
Deirdre is a teaching artist and AI coach in the San Diego public schools dedicated to helping classroom teachers make arts an integral part of their teaching. Deirdre has an MEd in Arts Integration and over twenty years of classroom and performing arts teaching experience. Email Deirdre.