Feature: The Shelton Performing Arts Alumni
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Back in 2000, high school students in Shelton, Washington were excited to put on a musical production were disappointed when they learned that it had been canceled due to parental concerns about some of the content in the production. They were determined to put on a show, and still had all the rehearsal time and performance dates booked, so they decided to put on a student-run musical theatre revue (a compilation of songs from various musicals based off a common theme). They called it Night of Musical Theatre, or NOMT.
It was a hit. Both the students performing and the audience loved the different performances of the show, and supported the idea that students could be in charge of a production. Every year the previous student director would name the next year’s director, and a new show would be born. 20 years later, the production has now become the major fundraiser for the choir program while remaining student run.
However, besides NOMT, theatre and musical theatre has declined significantly. There hadn’t been a full theatre production in several years and there was no drama teacher or a director for after-school productions. The alumni who had began NOMT all those years ago and were involved with theatre were not happy with this situation, and decided to do something.
What at first began as a reunion/performing opportunity for alumni turned into a 4-day musical theatre intensive for junior high and high school students. It culminated with two shows at the end of the week featuring both the alumni and the students who participated in the intensive.
Again, it was a hit. The students had been craving a real exposure to musical theatre, and the alumni loved coming back and not only performing together again, but having a chance to share their love of theatre with the next generation.
The first year, there were 10 students. The second, 13. The third and most recent, 17 students signed up. Within one year of the first intensive, an alumni and intensive clinician became the director for a musical production at the high school, and for the first time in several years, was able to have a full musical theatre show. Shrek the Musical was perfect. It was pure fun, and a great way to ease the school, students and the community back into full productions.
Sadly, the school district decided to let the director go, and the future of extra-curricular theatre activities remains in doubt. However, you can bet the Shelton Performing Arts Alumni will continue to offer opportunities for students.
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