The Discovery Musical Theatre Workshop was developed as a direct result of our school’s participation in the NJPAC/Johnny Mercer Foundation Musical Theatre Program. In this program, five New Jersey middle schools come together and write an original musical.
In 2017, our school was a part of writing the rising action and one song for the Mercer musical, “Flip the Script”. It was a story about a young girl who wants to play high school football, and as a consequence, experiences the loss of a friendship. The experience of writing, rehearsing and performing in this production was a profound one for both our students and our participating faculty members. We saw our students use their academic skills effectively, take artistic risks, and show new levels of commitment to high quality preparation and performance.
In 2019, our school decided to undertake our own version of the program, and have 20 of our 6th, 7th and 8th grade students write an original musical. During this process, the students chose the subject for the piece(arranged marriages), wrote the script and provided the ideas for the music and lyrics for five songs. They then rehearsed the play, learned the songs, helped to create choreography for the musical numbers and performed the musical, “Romeo and Juliet Remixed”, for the public. Once again, we found that the students produced exemplary work and learned profound personal lessons about their own capabilities and their willingness to take risks.
A successful experiment, we are planning for a second workshop production for the spring of 2020.