Students started with choice. On day one, Middle School Theater Director Brittany Schmutlzer (Ms. S) prompted a group of her grades 7 and 8 Musical Theater Performance students to decide if they wanted to put on a full show or a musical performance. They agreed to put on a variety production. She asked which songs they wanted to sing. Soon, the students threw out song ideas, voted on them, and began to design “their” performance. With limited assistance and guidance from Ms. S throughout the project, the performers collaborated to create a truly self-directed musical theater showcase.
The performance featured eight musical numbers from movies and theater productions with transitional scenes written by the performing student. While all students performed in the large musical numbers, they had choice when it came to individual roles. A few performers sang in small groups, while others chose to be the on set-crew helping to create transitions between performances.
And though Ms. S was on-hand to support the theatrical efforts, the students were the primary choreographers, writers, and directors, creating a showcase to perform in front of an audience filled with parents, teachers, and their peers.
Will Jackson, grade 8
“I felt like we had a lot of creative freedom and we could do the show how we liked. I believe that was Ms. S’ goal the whole time. Really, it wasn’t overwhelming and Ms. S. paced it well-throughout, it was scheduled very well. Being in a lot of theater productions, I noticed some of the same challenges, but had to approach them in a different way; we were the directors and the actors.”
Millar Woodall, grade 8
“It was stressful towards the end because we felt unprepared as we couldn’t get our harmonies right. But two days before the show, we got them down, and that was such a good feeling. It was so much fun working together.”
Piper Hendryx, grade 7
“This project helped me with directing. If I ever wanted to direct, it was great having that experience. The final product paid off because everyone worked together to make it happen.”
Grace Gilmour, grade 8
“It’s not easy putting on a show! Rehearsals and time management is so important. It was surprising that grades 7 and 8 worked so well together. Normally we don’t cross over, but in this we were all together.”