Editorial: Bravo to 5 school districts for their musical productions

Photos by Tom Rivers: The cast of The Addams Family sings the opening number of “When You’re An Addams” during Friday’s show in the middle school auditorium. Zack Baron is in the lead role of Gomez and Mallory Ashbery plays his wife Morticia. The famously ghoulish family embraces being true to themselves and decries being “normal.”

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 March 2023 at 3:26 pm

It has been a busy theatrical season for the five local school districts. They all put on full-length musicals. Albion did two – the Jungle Book by middles schoolers and The Addams Family by the high school.

This is the first time in at least 11 years all five districts have staged musicals. Lyndonville and Medina had a combined program hosted by Lyndonville for 11 years, until Medina decided to bring the program back to its own district.

Medina and Lyndonville both had crowd-pleasing shows and I expect they will be recognized by the Stars of Tomorrow, which honors the productions in the Rochester region – highlighting acting, dancing, singing, the sets and crews and overall production of the shows.

But the local districts don’t need to be validated by the Stars of Tomorrow to know they put on a good show. I attended all of the musicals in the county, and they all made their school districts and community proud.

Gabe Lindsay showed lots of exuberance in the lead role of the Willy Wonka in Holley Junior-Senior High School’s production of Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka last Friday and Saturday. This is from the opening scene of “Pure Imagination” with Willy Wonka joined by Oompa-Loompas. Holley always puts on a fun show. The school brought back the musical last year under new director Dustin Gardner following the retirement of Dan Burke. There wasn’t a show in 2021, and 2020 had all of the local musicals sidelined by Covid restrictions.

It’s no small feat to put on a musical – shows that can run two to three hours. These small districts have the talent in the students, and teams of teachers to lead the productions. The shows also tap into expertise outside the school walls for people to make costumes, build sets, play instruments in the pit orchestra, and cover other needs to make the shows so entertaining and well done.

These shows bring together cast crew members of about 50 to 100 people. The musicals unite them for a common purpose. The theater departments are places of acceptance and inclusion, finding spots for people regardless of their singing and dancing abilities, or where they stand on the social hierarchy.

These shows often bring powerful messages about friendship, love for community and what it means to be in a family.

There is Daddy Warbucks whose heart is melted by the orphan Annie. There is Dorothy who wants desperately to leave Oz and get back to her small town home in Kansas. And Willy Wonka teaches many lessons about greed.

Adriana Schiavone performs the lead role in Kendall Junior-Senior High School’s production of Annie. Kendall put on the show from March 10-11.

I was encouraged, too, that many of the musical cast and crew members tried to attend the shows by the other districts, offering support and loud applause, especially in Medina and Lyndonville, where those students had a strong bond for years doing shows together.

I heard many people from the older generation say the school plays have come a long way with the music, choreography, costumes, sound and lighting. Lyndonville even had five characters take flight to add to the magic of the story on the stage.

Next year I encourage everyone to check out the show at their school district, and see the ones at neighboring districts, too. The cast and crew deserve to perform in front of a full house.

Medina performed Little Mermaid from March 17-18 and they deserve applause for a great new beginning for the drama program. Elaina Huntington plays the role of Ursula, a sea witch/sorceress at left, and Seagan Majchrzak starred as Ariel.

Greyson Romano plays the role of the Great Oz who takes off too early in a hot air balloon near the end of the Wizard of Oz, which was performed Friday through Sunday in Lyndonville. Oz was one of five characters who took flight in the show. The characters wore a harness and they went airborne through wires and a tracking system. It was an element that added to the sense of awe and wonder of the show, which included 108 students from first grade to seniors.

Albion middle schoolers performed the Jungle Book on March 10-11. In this photo Ayme Vallejo Morales is Kaa, a python that sings “Trust in Me.” The snake has powers to hypnotize. The middle schoolers put on a full-length show every spring.