With the help of a few high school students, the Da Vinci Academy spring musical has turned into a true student production.
“We wanted to have two shows a year. We had a production in the fall and we wanted to do a musical in the spring, but musicals are not my specialty,” said Teresa Haymore, Da Vinci drama director.
“So I contacted (the adviser) of the North Hall High School Honors Mentorship Program and she recommended Olivia (DeLong) and Katherine (Foote). The rest is history, I turned it over to them and this is truly their baby.”
Haymore even allowed the students to pick the show, which ran Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They settled on “Dear Edwina,” which is a musical comedy about a little girl who is an “expert advice giver.” Edwina solicits the help of her friends to act out the responses to letters from kids seeking her advice.
While presiding over a musical production involving 30 students may seem like a major undertaking, the two high school juniors knew just what to do.
“It’s a big challenge, but you just have to take it step by step,” said Olivia, the show’s director. “We started with reading through the scripts to get the kids familiar with the show. Then we held auditions. After that we went through the musical numbers and taught the choreography.”
In organizing the show, Olivia and assistant director Katherine fell back on their musical theater experiences.
“We’ve grown up doing shows together at (North Hall),” Olivia said.
While listening during dress rehearsals to Olivia saying things like “Your solo was perfect, that’s just what I wanted” or “Be sure to look up, we want to see your pretty face,” it’s hard to believe it is her first time in the director’s chair. Her skill and talent even helped her secure a spot at a summer workshop in New York this summer.
“I got a scholarship for the New York Film Academy’s summer program. Usually you have to be 18 and graduated from high school, but I got in as a 16-year-old,” she said.
“I’ll be there for four months and I’ll be learning about film, doing some choreography and earning college credit. This helps give me a jump start in a musical theater career.”
Although the children have been “incredible,” Olivia said the challenges of being a director have helped her grow as a performer.
“I have so much more respect for directors now. As a director, you have to try and please everyone and that can be difficult to do at times,” she said.
“There are so many people to work with and so many pieces that you have to put together. When I go into (performing) as a profession, I will definitely respect the director so much more after this.”