Mission: Direct a Musical

The Jungle Book stage

It’s been quite awhile since my last post. I’ve been busy. Very busy. I’ve been hard at work on another adventure! This adventure is different from anything I’ve ever done before. I directed a musical with a cast of 32 teenagers, a large choir of 8 and 9 year olds, and an army of parent and teacher helpers.

This experience has been incredible. Stressful. Anxious. One of the most rewarding experiences ever. There were many, many days of tireless rehearsals and planning, much frustration, self-doubt, and exhaustion. In the end though, I made a musical happen at my school. My students acted their little hearts out and won over their audiences. There were many compliments – my favorite, “This is the best junior high school musical I’ve ever been to”. I’m so thrilled with how this turned out.

This adventure began for me last May. We’d just finished putting on the musical “Cinderella”, where I’d been helping with the music. The director was stepping down from their role, and I decided I’d like to take a shot at filling their shoes. From there, I browsed many musical choices and settled on the Jungle Book. It was different from anything that had ever been done in my school, and I wanted to make my mark. I didn’t have much acting experience, other than being in my own high school musicals, but I have a really strong music background and was confident I’d pull it off. How hard could it actually be? (I laugh at my thought process now, because it was SO much more work than I could have prepared myself for.)

From there, I found some help – one co-worker offered to co-direct with me, and a second stepped in to help us around Christmas. We started auditions, selected our cast and set to work. We rehearsed Mondays and Wednesdays after school for an hour every week from January to May. We also punctuated those regular rehearsals with monthly workshops on Thursday evenings, and then amped up the practicing with Saturday workshops leading up to our opening night. I started an elementary choir in March to help sing the large, full – cast songs. We met every Tuesday and Wednesday at lunch to practice.

In between all those rehearsals, I painted sets and made props with my helpers and had a crew planning our costumes and make-up. We also had an army of parents that served up to 40 of us for all of our evening and weekend rehearsals. On show nights, this crew of parents and volunteers came out to help dress and transform the kids into their jungle characters, feed them, watch over them as they waited for their time on stage and helped bring the jungle to life in the rest of our school. I have to say that this event wouldn’t have been possible without my support team.

I’m so lucky to have been part of this experience. At times it didn’t feel so wonderful, but stepping back and seeing the final product in all its glory shows me the work was worth it. It’s amazing how long it took for this musical to come to fruition, and then how quickly it was all over. After some rest and relaxation after the shows, I’m feel recharged and ready to take on my next musical. Stay tuned for that announcement sometime in the 2012-2013 school year!

Two of my favorite helpers – Bobatt and Dad
The main jungle backdrop with Kaa the Snake hanging out
One half of the jungle and the sun
The other half of the jungle and the moon
A shot of the floor without stage lighting – this is where the elementary choir sat during the show. You can also see the leaves we painted as a school and put up on the walls. This was a way to get everyone involved, and bring the jungle into the gym as well as the stage.
Night time set changes in the jungle
Stepping back and taking a look at what I’ve accomplished



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