The Show Goes On For NISD Middle School Musical
The Show Goes On For NISD Middle School Musical
Posted on 10/22/2020
This is the image for the news article titled The Show Goes On For NISD Middle School MusicalEighth grader Corrine Thomas never imagined that her last year to perform in the Northwest ISD middle school musical would look quite like this.

Northwest ISD student singing as Fiona in Shrek the Musical

The future of the annual production became unclear when the global pandemic forced school buildings to close in March 2020. In the past, auditions were held in person for students from each of the NISD middle schools in the spring before the performance. Cast rehearsals took place during the summer months and when school resumed in August.

“We were waiting for some sort of guidance from the state — what we should do and how we should proceed with as little risk as possible,” said Director Wendy Bramlett.

Determined to continue the production, Bramlett invited students to audition for Shrek The Musical Jr. by putting together a video to showcase their talent. Callbacks were completed over two weeks via Zoom conferences.

“From the beginning, this was a different kind of challenge,” she said. “We knew we would have to handle a lot of it digitally.”

Cast of Shrek the Musical Jr. Northwest ISD middle school musical

Throughout the summer, the cast worked together remotely via Zoom. But safely getting back on stage was always a priority.

“Learning how we were going to do school safely allowed us to see how we were going to do rehearsals safely,” Bramlett said.

Students began working in small groups with other characters in scenes. The production eventually moved to full cast rehearsals — students were assigned seats when not performing, and the program purchased masks designed for singing.

Northwest ISD student singing as Shrek in the middle school production of Shrek the Musical Jr.

Corrine, who plays Fiona, said that even though things are different, it is great to be back on stage.

“The production has been amazing,” she said. “It’s been awesome to just get to see my friends again, and to have social interaction. Just performing is so much fun. I love the singing part of it, the acting part of it, the dancing part of it, everything.”

Virtual rehearsals and video auditions weren’t the only changes the performers had to adapt to this year. They also had to find a way to tell the story with more than just their facial expressions.

“It’s really hard to act off of people if you can’t see half of their face,” Corrine said. “It’s been interesting to play around and see how you can also add things like body language to get a better audience response.”

Shrek the musical jr. Performed by Northwest ISD middle school students

Sixth grader James Hutcherson did the same with his role as the bishop who marries Fiona and Lord Farquaad. With only five spoken lines, he decided to follow Bramlett’s advice that you can never be too big on stage.

“I told myself that I was going to do just that,” he said. “I was going to make my part too big. The directors are trying to get us to really put it out there and I am.”

student playing lord farquaad in Shrek The Musical Jr. from Northwest ISD middle school musical

Bramlett said that despite the challenges, they’ve worked hard to create a show for families and students from across the district to enjoy.

“With proper planning, you can do anything,” she said. “We’re still making theater; we’re still making something beautiful. Just because things are different, doesn’t mean they aren’t still good.”

A limited number of tickets are on sale for three live performances of Shrek The Musical Jr. Showtimes will be 7 p.m. Oct. 29, 7 p.m. Oct. 30 and 2 p.m. Oct 31. The Oct. 30 performance will be live streamed, and a license to view it may be purchased online.