Wednesday, May 18, 2005

"Once Upon a Mattress" - Bravo!

Just about a year ago Milton High School Drama students, their parents, and other supporters of the Dramatic Arts appeared before multiple sessions of the School Committee to argue for the retention of Judi Campbell as a teacher and Director of the MHS Dramatic Society. The program had survived the lack of a director and a facility due to the school construction. Ms. Campbell’s presence last year gave many in the community a taste of what the program could be under the direction of an able leader.

This past weekend we witnessed what great leadership and a first class facility can produce. The MHS Dramatic Society presented three shows of “Once Upon a Mattress”, a musical based on the fairy tale of The Princess and the Pea. The performance of the 26 person cast was excellent and the set was inventive in design and of high quality construction and finish. The costumes were a real surprise. It must have been a challenge to find or make such a large array of beautiful period dress.

And then there was the facility. I can tell you that you don’t fully appreciate the acoustical quality of the new auditorium by merely attending a Town Meeting. The voices of the cast easily projected to the rear of the auditorium, as did the music of the pit band. The comfortable seats were appreciated during the almost 3 hour performance.

I attended the Sunday Matinee, along with about 250 other people, including a good number of seniors. Total attendance for the three shows topped 700. Ms. Campbell plans to plow the show revenues back into the program, purchasing more tools and equipment “so that we can offer all areas of stage craft.”

Leaving the auditorium I thought about how far the program had come in a year. A dedicated leader and a first class facility had increased interest in the dramatic arts at Milton High School. Pride in these things, as well as in their own performances, was apparent on the faces of the 50 or so High School students who spent many weeks putting this production together. I suspect Ms. Campbell will face the challenge of an even greater number of students wishing to explore their creative impulses.

At least one graduating senior will be continuing his creative studies. Tyler Ravelson will be attending the Chicago College of Performing Arts in the Fall. Whether it leads to a career path or not, the study of drama, as is true of the study of art and music, is an important component of a liberal education. If we continue to support it, it will reward our children and ourselves.


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