Grade 5 Students Rise to the Challenge of Staging a Musical

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Putting on a school musical is never just a walk in the park. They’re always a lot of fun and very rewarding, whether you’re a performer or the director, but challenges always surface. That could be anything from wanting more rehearsal time with the students or, as is the case this year for Grade 5 Musical director, Mrs. Stephanie Geehan, you discover you’re expecting your first child in the spring, so the performance dates get pushed up to mid-February, instead of late May or June!

“I alternate directing the Grade 5 Musical every year with choir teacher Duncan Frater (who’s currently directing the Middle School in The Wizard of Oz), and this year being my turn, and working on a faster-than-usual approaching deadline, I started working on it as early as I could,” she said. “I only get to see the two Grade 5 classes separately during scheduled drama time once every two weeks, so we not only had to really use our time together to its fullest, but we also had to create a show that was easy to rehearse with the other class absent.”

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This is a talented and determined group of students, and I am pleased that we are able to highlight so many of their strengths and passions in the show.

In past years, Stephanie had written the musical with an eye on giving each student a minimum number of lines, ensuring everyone has an opportunity to shine.

“This year, I figured if each student had his or her own solo, duet or small group number to be featured in, using only students from the same class in those individual pieces, I could use our rehearsal time working with students on their individual numbers,” Stephanie says. And that’s how That’s Entertainment! was born.

Now not only does each student get more time in the spotlight (which in past musicals they wouldn’t typically get unless they were cast as a lead character), but rehearsals are much more meaningful, with a class full of student performers always present.

This also means that there are now have 21 great solos and duets, and three big group numbers to showcase, instead of six or seven musical numbers in the whole show. It makes for a lot of work for the students, Stephanie says, memorizing the lines and the blocking, learning the melodies and practicing with the karaoke track to get the timing right for so many pieces, but the Grade 5s have really outdone themselves this year.

“I have been pleasantly surprised at and very proud of how the students quickly rose to this challenge. They put in a lot of time outside of school hours listening to the songs, memorizing the lyrics, and working on their blocking, so that when it was their turn to work with me again, their piece had improved leaps and bounds since the last time we worked together,” Stephanie says. “This is a talented and determined group of students, and I am pleased that we are able to highlight so many of their strengths and passions in the show.”

That’s Entertainment! is a medley of songs, skits, scenes and monologues from both older and newer Disney and Broadway shows, including The Lion KingBeauty and the BeastMatilda and Wicked. Performances run next week (February 12 and 13) at the Junior School, and everyone is very excited to show how hard they’ve worked to put on a great musical for you!

See more photos of the Grade 5 Musical in rehearsal at the SMUS Photo Gallery.

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Kyle Slavin
Kyle Slavin is the school's storyteller. Through words and photos, he shares with the community all the amazing things that happen on campus.

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