5/26 - Waverly Middle School Students Perform New Musical by Local Playwrights
Middle school is an awkward time as kids try to find out who they are, how they fit into the world, and how they want others to see them. But what if you’re an adolescent god? It’s tough to be all-powerful when your voice is changing or the cute guy you have a crush on doesn’t know you exist. Or worse, what if you’re only half-god? How will you ever fit in?
That’s the premise behind “Mount Olympus Junior High,” this year’s Waverly Middle School musical. Directed by Waverly choir director Maureen Nauss, the play was written by Michigan State University theatre professor Rob Roznowski, with music and lyrics by Seth Burk, choir director at Holt Junior High. Roznowski was inspired to write the play while on a Fulbright Fellowship at the University of Patras in Greece. He reached out to Burk to write the score, and the pair debuted the musical last June as part of MSU Summer Circle 2016 season, with Roznowski’s students. Waverly Middle School’s production will mark only the second time the play has been performed.
"We are so excited to be producing a new show! It's a great challenge: the actors are stretching their imaginations as they create so many fun characters! I can't wait to see how it all turns out!" said Nauss.
Mount Olympus Junior High follows a school year with new student Demi, whose dad is Zeus and whose mom is—gasp—a mortal. Classmates Apollo, Athena, Poseidon, and Aphrodite aren’t too keen about having their school “integrated,” so Demi tries to hide who she really is, until she can prove to her new friends that she belongs. Along the way, all the Mount Olympus students navigate the trials and tribulations of middle school, interacting with a faculty and staff full of mythological beings.
The Waverly Middle School cast had the opportunity to meet Roznowski and Burk midway through rehearsals for the show. They learned how the pair worked together to create the musical and asked questions about character development, motivation, and how the playwrights decided what to include and why. The students even performed one of the songs from the show with Burk at the piano.
"We're so thrilled to have Waverly Middle School produce our work. Meeting with the cast was such a great experience. They had such wonderful questions that were really insightful. I am so looking forward to seeing the final version,” said Roznowski, who hopes to bring some of the original MSU cast members to see Waverly’s production.
"The opportunity to have the author and composer give their input was really a once-in-a-lifetime moment for the students and for me. We learned a lot about the process of creating a show . . . from inspiration to final curtain call,” said Nauss.
Mount Olympus Junior High will be performed Friday, May 26, 6:30 p.m. at the Waverly Middle School Little Theater, 620 Snow Rd., Lansing. Tickets are $2 at the door.