The power of community on stage

Landon and Holton-Arms traditionally collaborate on the stage throughout the year, and this spring the productions revolve around how a community can come together for good.

Landon and Holton Upper Schools present Newsies Jr., a musical inspired by the real-life newsboys strike of 1899 in New York City. There are three performances: Friday, May 17 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, May 18 on 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in the Coates Auditorium. (No tickets are required.)

Director of Theatrical Arts Karina Gershowitz explained why she chose to produce this musical, this year, with this group of students.

"The toe-tapping music, the big dance numbers, and the ensemble nature of this piece, are three reasons why," Gershowitz explained. "We have an ensemble of more than 20 students from Landon and Holton. But it's also the story! Based on our true history of child labor in the U.S. in 1899­ – which is more relevant than ever – it's a call-to-arms that urges the powerless to band together."

The student-actors are going above and beyond to deliver a compelling, can't miss performance, added Gershowitz.

"They are giving it their absolute all. The power is incredible. They really want to do the story justice, and they feel this work mirrored in their own lives presently, standing up against gun violence," she said. "The ensemble has come together to portray these Newsies who are literally fighting for their lives. They have courage, energy, and verve, and I couldn't be prouder. You don't want to miss this one! It's explosive!"

This coming weekend, the Middle Schools will present Once on This Island Jr. on Friday, May 10 and Saturday, May 11 in Holton's Beebe Black Box Theater. In almost non-stop song and dance, the show tells the story of a peasant girl who rescues and falls in love with a boy from the other side of Haiti.

"Once On This Island Jr. gives us an unparalleled opportunity to dig deep in the rich culture of Haiti and have fruitful discussions about the choices and challenges of the characters. What's more, the music is joyous and the text specifically promotes everything we're trying to teach in middle school theater – that it's an act of communal storytelling," said Holton's Drama Director Elizabeth Zitelli. "It may just be my favorite show (Choral Director Mr. Trevor Fanning's too)."

The shows on May 10-11 are at 7 p.m., and tickets can be purchased through the Holton box office (students, faculty and staff tickets are free but should still be reserved). This show is appropriate for all ages, but Zitelli notes there are a couple of sequences that could be considered a bit scary for younger viewers.