With less than two weeks left, excitement is building for this year’s Northeast Middle School (NEMS) musical. The reason maybe that last year’s Alice in Wonderland, Jr. broke attendance records with 600 people attending. And this year’s Willy Wonka , Jr. promises that same response.
This year’s production will also have approximately 100 students participating either onstage or backstage.
“ To be part of something that involves 100 people is kind of unique and to be able to share that moment of pride on stage with your fellow performers, the crew and also with the audience –that is the cool thing about live theater,” Dudley Voigt, NEMS theater director said.
According to Dudley, musical theater is uniquely positioned to pull a community together and provides many access points. A show like Willy Wonka is also a story many kids know and love.
Support at NEMS has come from the quality of the work. Dudley attributes this to talented parents. For example, the set is being built by the tech director of the Minnesota Operaand the costumes are designed by Kim Rheaume, a very creative costume designer.
“When I show people pictures of what we do they’re pretty shocked,” Dudley said. “It’s hard not to be impressed.”
Kids who participate in the musical will put in between 8-10 hours of rehearsals each week for 11 weeks. The time doubles the week of the show.
Dudley believes that performing the musical in front of an audience outside of the school has an enormous value for the kids. She tells her students, “people are coming because they want to see you. They want to hear you tell this story.”
“ I think that is transforming for a young person to consider that somebody other than their grandmother is interested in what they are doing and what they have to say. That’s the essence of community work. Hopefully they’ll think about that when they are making other choices. Somebody might care about the choices they are making,” she said
What the Actors are Saying About Willy Wonka:
7th grader Liz Korba who plays Mrs. Bucket says, “This is my thing.” She has found new friends by participating in the musical. “We’re like a family. We all come together and make it awesome.”
Peyton Strong is playing her favorite character in the book, Augustus Gloop
“I used to be really shy,” she admits but after performing in previous productions of Alice in Wonderland & Seussical, she doesn’t have a problem standing in front of people. She encourages everyone to come see Willy Wonka. “If you don’t like it, you never had a childhood,” she says adding that she can’t wait to see her costume.
Grace Rheaume who will play Mrs. Salt (a gender change from the original story) has always liked performing.
“I get to be a different person. They’re good shows. We have a good stage director. ”
She adds that she likes to see all the people who volunteer to help out including her mother who is the costume director.
NEMS presents Willy Wonka Jr.
Thursday & Friday, March 22 & 23, 7 pm
Northeast Middle School Auditorium
2955 Hayes St. NE, Minneapolis
Tickets: $8 adults; $5 children
Tickets available at the door or in advance at Northeast Middle School (612-668-1500)
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