by Dan Mundt
Thousands of hours of rehearsal for a performance
“The Pirates of Penzance Jr.” was the first musical Tylor Schulte directed as a vocal music teacher at Denison Middle School (DMS) – and, 11 years later, it will be the next.
“I thought it would be fun to do it again, and we have the right kids for the cast,” Schulte said. “We try to choose our musical based on the talent we have for the vocal parts.”
Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance Jr. will be performed by a cast of more than 50 6th, 7th and 8th graders at 7 p.m. on Thursday, February 17 at the Denison High School Fine Arts Center.
“It’s a fun story and it was the right choice for this year,” he said.
A full production of Pirates of Penzance lasts over three hours; the “Jr.” production takes about an hour.
“It’s more accessible to our college audience,” Schulte said.
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The story is about Frederic, a pirate who just turned 21 and served his sentence with a band of pirates. he decides to strike out on his own to become an upright citizen, which turns out to be a tricky prospect.
Auditions for the play took place last October.
“Anyone in my 6th, 7th, and 8th grade large group choirs can audition to be in the musical, but it’s not required,” he said.
“We start working in small groups before Christmas, then after Christmas we work on Saturday and Monday evenings to prepare for the February show.”
Students rehearse about four hours a week.
Schulte has also worked with cast members in individual settings.
Students focus on learning all parts of the show, he said.
“People always ask me if it’s hard to get so many kids on stage,” Schulte said.
“It sounds like something I say like a broken record, but it’s a good group of kids. They’re all working towards the same goal, and this cast, in particular, has been very easy to work with.
The children finished memorizing their parts a week ago.
Schulte is excited to see his students succeed in singing and acting as they enter high school, but he also has another message for them about what they’re doing.
“I always try to emphasize that the communication skills we learn on stage will serve them for the rest of their lives,” he said. “It may be for a future job interview, a presentation for co-workers, or just interpersonal, but the ability to express emotions and communicate clearly will serve them well in their personal adult lives. and professional.”
Confidence is one of the skills acquired by students when they learn to perform on stage.
“That’s why we’re doing it – we’re all going to be nervous,” he said. “We’ll shoot for the stars and see where we hit.”
He encourages students to do their best as a team – and to have fun.
“On show night, I always make it a point to remind students that there are very few times in life when so many people devote so much time to a single performance,” Schulte said. “From the start of the auditions to the night the curtain goes up, the students have worked thousands of hours. All of this work is for a live show for our parents and our community. We only have one chance to show off all of our work. I remind them to do their best, have fun, and remember all the hard work that led up to the performance because, at the end of the night, all the work will turn into one big memory they’ll have with them for the rest of their lives. »
The students worked hard and are excited about the production, he said.
“That’s why I keep doing it,” Schulte said.
Tickets are $2 for adults and $1 for students and will be available at the door.
With music and lyrics by Sir William S. Gilbert, and music by Sir Arthur S. Sullivan, The Pirates of Penzance JR. is based on the 1980 production presented on Broadway by the New York Shakespeare Festival, produced by Joseph Papp, directed by William Leach, with a musical adaptation by William Elliot and choreography by Graciela Daniele.
This production ran for over 700 performances and won a Tony Award for Best Revival as well as the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical.