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Murray Journal

Family favorites to be performed at Hillcrest, Riverview junior highs

Mar 07, 2018 02:46PM ● By Julie Slama

Gracie (Elizabeth Meyers) tells dreamy George (Parker Lewis) her plans for the upcoming school dance starring heartthrob Ziggy Springer (Sawyer Williams) are “just peachy,” but will her plans be thwarted by that rebel Sinbad (Micah Black)? (Traci Black/Riverview Junior High)

The classic fairytale, “Once Upon a Mattress,” and the family-friendly 1950’s play, “Rock around the Block,” will be performed in March at two Murray junior high schools.

“Once Upon a Mattress” will be performed by a cast of 42 students at 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 14 through Friday, March 16 at Hillcrest Junior High, 178 E. 5300 South. For ticket information, contact the school at 801-264-7442.

“Rock around the Block” will feature a cast of 59 students and will be performed at 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 6 through Thursday, March 8 at Riverview Junior High, 751 W. Tripp Lane (5755 South). Tickets are $5 and are available at the door.

Hillcrest Junior High teacher Jewell Loveless, who directs “Once Upon a Mattress” with Jennifer Allred, Victoria Bean and Krystin Elder, said that they decided on the traditional play since fairytales appeal to all ages.

“We wanted to have a classic that appeals to families,” she said about the show written by Mary Rodgers. “The kids have worked so hard and have pulled it together. It’s a good show and they’ve shown a lot of professionalism.”

Loveless said that students who were in good standing with academics and citizenship could audition in December. They memorized their lines and learned songs with a minus track over the winter holiday break so when January rolled around, they could immediately hold rehearsals.

The role of Princess Winnifred is played by eighth-grader Abbie Ogden; Queen Aggravain is eighth-grader Hannah Elder; and Prince Dauntless is portrayed by ninth-grader Seth Stone. Fourteen students are on stage crew. Music is directed by Elder and choreography is by Bean.

At the show, there will be merchandise, shirts, totes and mugs, as well as concessions. Proceeds will be earmarked for new theatre microphones.

Riverview’s 90-minute “Rock around the Block” features Ziggy Springler, a rock star reminiscent of Elvis, who promises his distant cousin he will sing at her high school. His manager sees differently and troubles arise, said Traci Black, PTA president who is the play’s producer.

“It’s a cute ‘50s show, with catchy songs, and James Dean-type rebels,” she said. “It’s a show that we could bring in a lot of characters.”

Even with a show that requires many students, every student “has a moment in the spotlight,” Black said. In addition, there will be some student-director numbers featuring students’ singing, dancing and performing musical instruments to set the mood.

The part of Ziggy is portrayed by Sawyer Williams and his cousin, Gracie, is Elizabeth Meyers. Parker Lewis plays George Williams. All the students are in eighth grade.

Black, along with director Wendy Smedshammer and choreographer Jennifer Davies, had auditions before the winter holiday break so the cast could learn their parts and music before rehearsals began in January.

Some students came with some community theatre experience while others had only performed in their school programs on stage. 

“The students really wanted to learn how to develop their characters. It’s really valuable for them to try new things and find success,” Black said. “It’s given our students a chance to make a different group of friends and bond.”