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Valley Journals

Murray High to present dinner theater as new tradition

Jan 08, 2019 02:08PM ● By Julie Slama

The Murray High cast of “Annie” will bring a jukebox musical to the stage in January. (Will Saxton/Murray High)

By Julie Slama | julie@mycityjournals.com

“Don’t Stop Believin’” how Murray High theater department can keep entertaining their audiences.

With its first ever jukebox musical, focused on music of the 1980s, students are learning new skills and techniques to create entertaining theater, director Will Saxton said.

“We decided to try something different and brainstormed and came up with that,” he said.

The jukebox dinner theater will be performed for three nights beginning at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 16 in the school’s Little Theatre, 5440 S. State St. 

Tickets for the show, which will be presented on an elevated stage in a theater-in-the-round format, are $5 and tickets are available at the door. Seating will be limited to 100 patrons per night who are not opting for the dinner-theater format.

The optional three-course dinner, catered and served by Murray High’s ProStart students, will be $20. Advance reservations are needed before Jan. 11 and beginning mid-December, can be made on the school’s website, www.murrayschools.org/murray-high.

“It’s great to work with a different school program and get more people supporting both programs and the students in both programs have the opportunity to experience putting on a dinner theater,” Saxton said.

When first planning the jukebox musical, it was decided to concentrate on the music from the band, Journey, but by late November, the cast decided to expand to include music from the entire 1980s.

“The kids wanted it broader than just the one group so they’re picking the songs and writing the script. I believe we need to let the students have a choice in what they’re doing,” he said. 

However, Saxton said there likely will still be some songs from Journey.

“I always have liked the band growing up. I’m old school and now with its resurgence, the kids know all the songs and they’re popular. The kids are pretty excited about starting this new tradition,” he said. 

This replaces the past 10 years of holding a Broadway Revue.

“It’s similar to the Broadway Revue where students will be using the skills they have in storytelling, writing scripts and directing, but instead of just having unrelatable numbers, they will write a script and have the songs help tell the story,” Saxton said.

As of deadline, the song selection had not been finalized, but Saxton said the 29 students in his musical theater class will be part of several student committees — music, script, choreography, directing, scenery and costumes, and publicity.

“Some of the students are my advanced theater students and some are sophomores who were in their first production with ‘Annie’ this fall,” he said.

Under Saxton, there are four student directors — Madi Castillo, Dawson Otteson, Dylan Short and Matthew Watson, all who are seniors and have directed in the advanced theater class. 

“They are leading everyone, running production meetings and coordinating everything,” Saxton said.

The direction team will have two student music teachers, Ashley Bates and Emmy Eborn. Saxton said the committee will decide the music, but it will be these two seniors who will teach their classmates.

“I feel confident this will be a great show and a fun opportunity to come enjoy dinner and the theater for everyone,” he said.