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The City Journals

Students expected to shine on stage in upcoming schools’ shows

Nov 04, 2019 03:04PM ● By Julie Slama

The South Jordan Middle School cast of “Honk, Jr.” rehearses before their production opens for four shows, Nov. 7–9. (Shawn Kidd/South Jordan Middle)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

South Jordan residents have an opportunity to see the talents of both students at Paradigm High School and South Jordan Middle School in upcoming performing arts performances.

Fresh off competing at the annual high school Shakespeare competition in Cedar City, which involved 12 of the school’s choir members, eight dancers, five theater students and a string quartet, Paradigm students will participate in their upcoming performance, Nordic Concert.

“We pick classical music and then, tell the story musically with 15 minutes of acting and dancing,” said school music director Sarah Arnesen. “It’s based on a Henrik Ibsen play but written, directed and choreographed by our students.”

The performance, “Peergyut,” will be at 5:30 p.m. and again at 8 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 30 at Paradigm, 11577 South 3600 South. Tickets are $3 per person or $10 for a family of five. Last year, about 1,000 people came to support the school with an enrollment of about 440.

“It’s a story about lazy trolls and how they don’t seem to do anything right, but in the end, there is hope, which is a great message for teenagers,” she said. “This is something that the whole school can support and our scholars can be amazing as they write the script, put it on and direct on stage.”

There also will be about 200 baked goods to purchase, which will benefit the performing arts’ tours. This year, the band will attend workshops at Utah State and BYU-Idaho as well as give performances in the area, while the orchestra will travel to Snow College, Southern Utah University and Dixie State University to perform with other schools for both elementary students and seniors.

Some of these students will have performed with the Madrigals, Dance Company, minstrels or were on stage in a monologue or scene at the Shakespeare Festival, theater director Alice Shattuck said.

“It’s good to work together, compete and get the feedback,” she said, adding that they have placed first or second in their competitions the past two years. “Plus, they go to performances and learn from those they see.”

These students also may be part of the 75 students putting on “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at 8 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 21 through Saturday, Nov. 23 and again on Monday, Nov. 25. Tickets are $10.

Joseph is played by senior Gideon Barfuss, and the narrators are performed by seniors Nyah Richards and Aspen Watson along with junior McKinley Thyrgerson. The orchestra is directed by Arnesen; Stephanie Cole provides choreography, and parent Lacie Horman does costumes.

Shattuck said there are 33 cast members, with 20 children joining them on stage. In addition, there are 32 playing in the orchestra pit and 10 more on stage crew.

“We have a big enough cast when we use preparatory students and siblings that we can make this a good community experience as it has a broad appeal,” Shattuck said. “It’s a fun, family-friendly musical with a lot of dance and music.” 

At nearby South Jordan Middle School, close to 60 students are involved in the production of “Honk, Jr.”

Created by George Stiles (music) and Anthony Drewe (book and lyrics), it’s a story about the ugly duckling and how other animals point out his differences from his siblings. Ugly sets off on a self-discovery adventure to discover being different is not a bad thing.

“I really like the show,” said director Shawn Kidd, who has previously directed a longer version at a New Mexico high school. “It talks about bullying people who are different, but they learn they have value. It brings it all in together in a musical.”

After auditions in late August, the students have worked together to put on the production, with the four lead parts double-cast.

“The students are supporting each other and working as a team to put on a big project,” he said. “They work independently on their characters, but they understand how their parts come together in the big picture.” 

The students will take their stage at 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 7 through Saturday, Nov. 9 as well as a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday in the school’s kiva, 10245 South 2700 West.

In addition to Kidd directing both the music and show, dance teacher Kara Meredith is choreographing the production. 

Students are helping with costumes, microphones, hair and make-up.

“They are taking a lot of ownership and are really vested in it,” Kidd said. “And the principal has been really helpful getting us a new soundboard and lighting consul.”

Principal Shawn McLeod, who had never heard of this production before Kidd suggested it, is eager to see it.

“The kids are having a great time rehearsing, and it seems to be a perfect message for middle school, to address being out of touch, having image issues, but making everyone be cared for and feel special,” he said.