Murray elementary school children will have a chance to perform in upcoming musicals this spring.
Each Murray public elementary school and the American International School of Utah charter school will host youth musicals produced by Murray City Cultural Arts, with $2,000 for each school funded through assistance from Zoo, Arts, and Parks, Utah Division of Arts and Museums and the National Endowment for the Arts. These musicals have been produced every three years since the 1999-2000 school year at no admission charge.
“Each director hired by the cultural arts coordinates all aspects of the musical, including production, personnel, supplies, title, auditions, rehearsals and performance,” Murray City Cultural Arts Director MaryAnn Kirk said.
Parkside Elementary kicked off the performances in December with “Down in the Dumps,” directed by Wendy Dahl Smedshammer, who returned to direct the show that she first directed in 1999-2000. She will oversee the same show on Thursday, April 30 at Woodstock Elementary, 6015 South 1300 East, and on Thursday, May 7 at McMillan Elementary, 315 East 5900 South.
“Down in the Dumps” is a story of a man’s front yard that is full of junk. Although neighbors dislike the eyesore, the neighborhood children find it fun, much to the man’s dismay. When the kids learn that their neighbor has been served an eviction notice, they decide to help out, much to his surprise, Kirk said.
“Seussical Jr.” will be performed on the Viewmont Elementary stage, 745 West 5720 South, at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 24 and Wednesday, Feb. 25, and again Thursday, April 30 and Friday, May 1 at AISU, 4998 South 360 West.
Director and choreographer Jessa Block said she picked the musical for several reasons, including the fact that it could fit a large cast.
“It’s a really fun show and a great first musical for kids to be in,” she said. “The music is whimsical and easy to remember, and the characters and situations are familiar from the Dr. Seuss books and movies that most kids grow up with,” she said.
Block added that the show has an important lesson: “A person’s a person no matter how small.”
“Kids, and people in general, really, get so much negativity thrown at them that it’s easy to forget how important and wonderful they all are. This show reminds them that who they are as a person and their individual ‘quirks’ are things to celebrate, rather than suppress or change,” she said.
At Viewmont, Block is joined by Wilson Hicken as the music director and Keaton Wren as stage manager and set and costume designer.
“Big Top Blues,” written and directed by Tara Lynn Horton, will be performed Friday, Feb. 27 and Saturday, Feb. 28 on Liberty Elementary’s stage, 140 West 6100 South.
“It’s about a circus and how they turn frowns upside down,” Kirk said. “It’s really a fun story.”
“A Happy Man” will be performed Wednesday, March 11 and Thursday, March 12 at Longview Elementary, 6240 South Longview Dr., and Grant Elementary, 662 West Bulldog Circle, in May (dates TBA). It’s an original musical written by new director Maureen Miles.
“It’s a fairytale about a king whose wife died, and he’s in despair as he’s raising his three daughters,” Miles said. “They learn from the fairy godteacher that the only way to cheer him up is to wear the shirt of a happy man and as they search, they find those they encounter saying they’d be happy if they only had one more thing.”
Miles said she wrote the happy ending musical while she was on sabbatical from her music teaching position in a Detroit school. More than 75 students are involved in the show at Longview, and she is assisted by music teacher Heather Butterfield, who plays the fairy godteacher.
On Wednesday, March 18 and Thursday, March 19 at Twin Peaks Elementary, 5325 South 1045 East, there will be a revue of “Annie” with scenes and music from the Broadway musical, Kirk said. It is directed by Deborah Daines.
Horizon will host “Disney’s The Lion King Kids” with performances scheduled for Tuesday, April 14 and Wednesday, April 15 on the school stage, 5180 Glendon Street. The director is Jai-Dee Riches.