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West Jordan Theatre Students Learn from a Legend

Jan 28, 2016 12:44PM ● Published by Bryan Scott

By Aimee L. Cook | aimee@mycityjournals.com

West Jordan - When Chandler Bishop, West Jordan High School’s Theatre and English Language Arts teacher, took on the job of directing the school’s musical, he had an ace up his sleeve that would take the school musical to another level.  Renowned choreographer Rowland Butler is a personal friend of Bishop’s father and was thrilled to help out. 

“When I took on the direction of West Jordan High’s musical, I asked Rowland if he would be willing to choreograph the big production numbers for ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’,” Bishop said. “Not only did he agree to be the choreographer, he also agreed to come and teach a tap workshop for students interested in polishing their skills before the auditions.”

Butler, a co-founder of Ballet West, was a resident choreographer for Pioneer Theatre for 14 years, a professor at the University of Utah in theater and the owner of Butler Dance Academy. He was also the director of the dance program at the Tuacahn High School until 2005. At the young age of 76, Butler has not lost the spring in his step and is still running programs for the High School of Performing Arts.

“Once I got involved [with “Thoroughly Modern Millie”], I was so surprised at the talent out there,” Butler said. “The kids worked so hard for me. They were wonderfully talented, good teenage kids. The show went beautifully. This show can be difficult because the best music is part of the first act, so I had to attack the show in a different way to keep the show moving up hill.”

Bishop brought a lot of experience to the stage as well. Bishop had directed several plays in New York City where he lived and worked in theater for 16 years. The duo was quite the team and the musical came off without a hitch. The students involved had a great time and learned a lot, and the audience’s responses were positive and energetic.

“I absolutely loved playing the title role in this show,” Miranda Underwood, senior at West Jordan High, said. “I have grown immensely as an actress and singer, reaching heights that once seemed unattainable to me. I am very grateful to Chandler Bishop and Rowland Butler for working closely with me and helping me discover these exciting places. If I could do it all again, I definitely would. ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’ is one of the most enjoyable shows I have ever taken part in, and the memories will stick with me forever.” 

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