PARKERSBURG - Blennerhassett Middle School's theater program received a professional touch Wednesday as part of a national contest.
The school was one of 10 winners in the 2012 "Smash: Make a Musical" contest sponsored by NBC.
Doug Parks, director of the Blennerhassett Middle School Junior Thespians, said officials in May learned the middle school program had been chosen from 30 schools nationwide, thanks in large part to online votes from community members. Blennerhassett was the only West Virginia school competing in the competition.
Photo by Michael Erb
Eighth-grader Sierra Parsons, left, and sixth-graders Madi Parks, center, and Hunter Ball participate in a theater performing exercise Wednesday on stage at Blennerhassett Middle School. The members of the Blennerhassett Middle School Junior Thespians participated in a theater workshop as part of the 2012 “Smash: Make a Musical” contest.
Photo by Michael Erb
Cindy Ripley, an education consultant for Music Theatre International, speaks Wednesday with members of the Blennerhassett Middle School Junior Thespians.
"It wouldn't be possible without the community support," he said. "This is one of 10 schools in the nation to get the program, and it wouldn't be possible without the community. They are the ones that got behind us and voted."
Through the Smash competition, the after-school theater group will be able to put on a production of "Seussical Jr.," a version of the Broadway musical starring the characters of Dr. Seuss.
Parks said the production will be held March 15-16 at the school, and additional performances may be added for March 8-9.
On Wednesday, about 25 students had a 90-minute workshop with Cindy Ripley, education consultant for Music Theatre International.
"Cindy came in and spoke with the adults in the morning," Parks said. "This afternoon she is going to work with the students, getting them comfortable on stage, getting them to work together as an ensemble."
Parks said Ripley also provided guidance and suggestions for adults coordinating and directing the event. Parks said Ripley also will be available online as the troupe works on the production.
"She has a lot of experience doing school theater productions," he said. "She is another resource for us."
As a winner of the contest, the school theater program receives the junior Broadway show kit worth more than $500. In addition, the program will receive money for two master classes with iTheatrics' New York-based master teachers, a local project adviser, two teacher stipends and a technical theater fund.
Parks said the theater troupe already is working on a performance of "Captain Hook," scheduled for Oct. 26-27 at the school.