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Musical Theatre Students Spin Tropical Tale of Life, Love

Students are performing a Broadway show next week

The exotic music, rhythmic dance, and bright tropical colors of a Caribbean island will pervade the Farish Center at Independent Day School-Corbett Campus next week, as musical theatre students take audiences on an early spring break with their production of the Broadway hit, “Once On This Island Jr.”

The show garnered eight Tony nominations during its Broadway run, including Best Musical, Book and Score.

Many Westchase students attend The Independent Day School in Carrollwood.

The play is based on the novel, “My Love, My Love” by Trinidad-born Rosa Guy. The 1990 musical was composed by Stephen Flaherty, with book and lyrics by Lynn Aherns. A story of forbidden love and class distinction, the play is a theatrical adaptation of the popular fairy tale “The Little Mermaid” that includes traces of “Romeo and Juliet” set against the backdrop of the French Antilles.

Evening performances of “Once On This Island Jr.” are open to the public and take place on Tuesday, March 13 and Wednesday, March 14 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5, and are available at the door.

Eighth-grader Julia Peacock, who has been performing since she was in first grade, plans to attend Blake High School of the Arts, and has her heart set on a Broadway career.

“Musical theatre has definitely built my confidence and made me comfortable speaking in front of an audience,” she said.

IDS-CC middle school drama teacher Sheri Whittington said teachers selected the piece for this year’s musical theatre production "because we all loved its rich and timeless themes of love, hope, faith, respect for the earth, and embracing diversity among people.”

According to IDS-CC teachers, the production is challenging because it is almost completely sung, and the entire ensemble is on stage for the majority of the play. In addition, the play is double-cast, in order to give students the opportunity to experience both a lead and supportive role.

Teachers say that the lessons students learn by participating in musical theatre help develop life-long skills, including how to be a leader, as well as part of a team, working towards a common goal, how to problem solve, and how to think on one's feet.

“It’s a demanding production that has required a great deal of commitment,” said Jeanne Rivera, a math and musical theatre teacher. "Our students are just amazing. They’re so talented, and have worked extremely hard since we started rehearsing last October."

For more information on IDS-CC, go to: http://www.idsyes.com.

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