As I said to the faculty last week, when we return from Spring Break, the final weeks of the school year feel like a rollercoaster car that’s just started on its descent after the climactic apex! All aboard! And while there is a lot left to do, learn, and experience between now and the end of May, I wanted to take a minute to look back at our spring musical, Anything Goes, that wrapped up as we headed to break.
The show was a phenomenal success! One measure is the fact that all four shows basically sold out in advance online! That’s 700 tickets! Another measure is four standing ovations. But most important to me is the fact that 54 Middle School students started this show, and 54 completed it. I’m pretty sure that is a record for a SFS production and represents over a third of our Middle School taking part and staying with it. And during the Sunday matinee we were joined by 26 Lower School choir singers, swelling our numbers to 80 for one song!
As the director of our program, I don’t want to crow too much about the show myself, but instead asked some of our 8th graders to write a paragraph about either the show or the SFS Drama Project. Of the students below, some are veterans of our stage, while one was only here this year. Here are their thoughts:
“Ever since I was in Kindergarten, I dreamed of being on the Goshen stage. I watched my sisters perform, and my older friends. Every year, one of the highlights would be watching another great St. Francis production. Now that I am finished with my time on the stage, I am so grateful to have had the experience. I made friends with kids who I never would have thought I would be friends with, I have grown closer to my current friends, and I have made many memories with the help of my friends. I am so glad that I have been a part of the St. Francis Drama Project and I am excited to come see future productions in the years to come.” – Sophie Johnson
“St. Francis’ musical ‘Anything Goes’ was spectacular. It was such an amazing experience and I loved being a part of it. I learned so much about acting, singing, and dancing from this musical, and I am so grateful for it. I can say that about both of the shows I was in this year. I learned so much and had so much fun doing the shows here because you always feel like an important part of the show and are always treated like you are the star. This program really believes in the saying, ‘There are no small parts, only small actors.’ Even though I was only at the Goshen Campus for one year, I am so glad I got to have the incredible experience of being part of the drama program.” – Katie Mushkin
“The St. Francis Drama Project has truly changed my life. Every show I’ve been in has taught me how to be myself, all the while pretending to be other people. ‘Anything Goes’ sticks out in my mind as perhaps the most demanding experience I’ve had, but by far the most rewarding one. Reno Sweeney made me more confident as a performer than any other role I have ever played. My cast-mates and I truly appreciate all the opportunities St. Francis offers its students, and the input from all the adults that makes the productions so wonderful. So I want to send a huge thank you to Mrs. Erwin, Mrs. Mushkin, Sra. Ponzio, Ms. Donna, Ms. Aberle, Mr. Bertke, and of course, Mr. Gabhart. You all are ‘the top!’” – Teagan Morrison
“The SFS Drama Project has completely changed the way I feel about myself in terms of self-confidence. Without these stage experiences that St. Francis has offered and encouraged, I would not be able to to talk in front of a crowd that is more than just my friends. But because of these plays that I have taken part in, I am able to express myself and be comfortable speaking publicly. In this spring musical of 2017, I was lucky enough to audition and receive the male lead in ‘Anything Goes’ as Billy Crocker. Becoming the lead in a play is very different than acting as a character with not many lines, which I have done many times in the past. There is a sense of much more responsibility and honor when you have to memorize a hundred-plus lines and sing many solos in songs. I have loved every minute of the SFS Drama Project, and would not trade those memories and experiences for anything in the world.” – Jimmy Lancaster
As always, it’s hard to let the 8th graders leave us! This group is both remarkably talented but also committed, nice, and simply fun to be around. I will remember them fondly and the special year we had together in drama. But we have a rollercoaster ride to attend to, first!
It was also special to talk during the curtain speech before each performance about our theater expansion and front lobby renovation Capital Campaign project that was recently approved by our Board of Trustees. With everyone’s support, the venerable Main Amp will take on an entirely new and dynamic look – hopefully for the 2018-19 school year! For me, I just can’t imagine actually having backstage space finally. Let the dreaming begin!