More than 25 seventh and eighth graders participated in a musical theater workshop as a winter trimester sports option led by dedicated Middle School Performing Arts Coordinator Katie Meadows and middle school teachers Jason Reiff and Mary Chappell.
“We dreamed up this cool musical theater workshop ensemble experience where kids get to focus on a variety of skills like vocal work, choreography, scene work and set design,” Meadows said. She added that while putting on a fully staged musical production would have been ideal, “It has been really wonderful to immerse ourselves in the process instead of plowing through to a performance.”
Reiff, workshop choreographer and faculty member in the Department of Performing Arts, agreed: “Having this time so thoughtfully carved out for middle school performers has helped preserve it as a priority for our school and our students.”
“I enjoyed performing ‘Brand New Day’ the most because of the upbeat dancing and exciting feeling of the song,” said Rose Manzano ’26. In addition to “Brand New Day,” the grade-level ensembles worked on “No One Is Alone” from “Into The Woods,” “Opening Up” from “Waitress,” and “You Learn” from “Jagged Little Pill.”
Students also got to explore the worlds of set and costume design with Chappell. They worked in teams and were assigned a fictional story and performance space. “I was amazed at their burst of creativity and ability to adapt a story to the space with this having been everyone’s first crack at designing for the stage,” the seventh grade humanities teacher said. Chappell was equally pleased that the same level of collaboration was on display during the costume design workshop.
“Having the opportunity to create space for performing artists was a gift for us all,” Reiff shared. “We have been able to focus on building performance skills and knowledge while generating comradery among artists that will endure into the years ahead and happier days for live performances.”
After days of rehearsing all the songs and choreography, Ally Tarter ’25 enjoyed the final product the most.
"I especially loved the moments just before the music would start when everyone was silent, patient and focused,” she explained. “It was like COVID and all the other current stresses just evaporated for a period.”