Over the years, our school and parish developed a relationship with Saint John Vianney Parish in Gladwyne. Dr. Cara Latham, the Saint John liturgical musician at that time a teacher at Agnes Irwin School, now Merion Mercy Academy, offered to direct a musical. Godspell, Jr. was our first production and it was great. Only ten children are required for the cast with virtually no scenery. The following year, we produced Annie, Jr. and it was a smash. At that time, we performed the show in the former church at Saint Rose of Lima and in the church of Saint John in Gladwyne.
Seussical, the Musical, Jr. was our next production. The Junior versions are one-hour productions of the full Broadway show. Again, a small cast of ten and very little scenery was required. The leads from that production just graduated high school! Dr. Latham took a two-year break and we were able to find several faculty members who took over the direction and it was no longer a small production with little scenery as we took on The Lion King, Jr. Over 40 children, 3rd Grade through 8th, were on stage and at least a dozen others in support. The Lion King Jr. was spectacular – music, dance, costumes, makeup and scenery.
Dr. Latham was able to return last year and we rebirthed Godspell, Jr., but this time with a large cast as she brilliantly rewrote the script and used each class to present several of the parables of Jesus. Again, the set was loyal to the original off-Broadway production with the cast moving crates and planks around the cyclone fenced set.
This year, Annie Jr. returned and while Annie was still a little girl, the show had grown from a cast of ten six years ago to 30 this year with a supporting staff of ten and this year three-sided movable scenery pieces which allowed us to go from the orphanage to Warbucks mansion and downtown New York City. A lot of volunteers pitched in and helped build and paint the marvelous reusable sets.
“It has been my joy to be part of each of these shows and to be joined by Rhonda and Kiera Scarbrough of our current faculty along with Dr. Cara Latham,” remarked Monsignor Pashley.
We are so proud of all our students who participated in this year’s musical! Three 8th Graders shared their thoughts on Annie, Jr.:
- Mimi Gala observed, “Annie was great! I loved my part as Lillie St. Regis.” And she really played the part!
- Riayn Little who played Grace Farrell, Warbucks’ secretary, and a veteran of four shows said, “Annie was a great experience. It helped children branch out and communicate with other peers. It was a great way to build real character. As a leader of the cast, it was amazing to see the children listen to our ideas and let us help them to become great!”
- Julian Baysmore, another four-year actor, played Oliver Warbucks this year and observed, “Our school plays show that we are able to come together as a student body. The Lion King, Alice in Wonderland, Godspell and Annie – all of these amazing plays have helped us grow from a student body to a school community.”
Rumor has it that this year may take us to the wonderful land of OZ. We hope you’ll join us on the journey to see the Wizard!