Immersing Themselves in Musical Theater
Singing voices are echoing through the hallways at Windermere Boulevard as fifth-graders practice their “Scales and Arpeggios” because “Ev’rybody Wants to be a Cat” in the spring musical.
Rehearsals are starting for the spring production of Disney’s The AristoCats, KIDS, based on the animated film.
This year, like the previous four years, the musical theater club at Windermere will get a little help from the Amherst South Rotary Club. The partnership between the Rotary Club and Windermere Boulevard began about five years ago when principal Julie Flanagan attended a meeting and shared that the school wanted to start a musical theater club. The Rotarian members, through the Amherst South Rotary Club Endowment Fund, provide grant funding to the school for the musical production.
“The Rotary club has graciously donated to us over the course of several years and we have used their financial grants to create a unique, immersive musical theater experience for our students,” said Mrs. Flanagan. “Their support has also included funds for the purchase of a new sound system, a new storage cabinet and needed equipment such as wireless microphones, a sound mixer, and wiring to ensure it all works properly.”
The Rotarians are always invited to the play and always attend. This year’s performance is April 1 and 2. Typically there are 70 to 80 students in the cast and crew each year.
During auditions, students had to learn a song from the show, a short dance routine and deliver scripted lines in character.
“I had been hearing their singing voices echoing through the hallways as they used their recess time to prepare for auditions. Their excitement shows in their faces and their many questions about the AristoCats' plot and characters,” said choral teacher Patricia Hills, who is co-directing the musical with choral music teacher Ada Wolfanger and fifth-grade teacher Carly Fanton.
The school’s theater equipment wish list includes two spotlights so they don’t have to borrow lights from the other buildings where there is always a risk they could get damaged in transit moving from building to building.
“One day we would also like to have the technology to project our scenery onto a screen at the back of the stage,” said Mrs. Hills. “Since our stage doubles as a classroom and rehearsal space during the school days, it would be a dream come true to project scenery rather than moving cumbersome pieces around the stage.”
The musical theater club has many positive benefits for students.
“Students’ gain confidence, self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment for participating in something that may not be academic related,” said Mrs. Flanagan. “The ability to be in character on stage in front of an audience lends itself to being confident when speaking in front of their peers both now and into adulthood.”
The Rotary Club support also extends beyond the musical theater club. Each summer, the club members collect school supplies and donate backpacks for children at Windermere who need them.
“We are so grateful for this incredible partnership with the Rotary Club,” said Mrs. Flanagan. “Their support and desire to help our students is greatly appreciated!”