By ORLANDO MORALES, Director of Rising Star Project and Internships
Eight high school students and two adult mentors are seated around a large table in The 5th Avenue’s Rehearsal Studio B. Everyone has a freshly photocopied script in hand. Old scripts and well-worn notepads are strewn across the table. Otherwise, the fluorescentlylit studio is an unassuming space, furnished with some chairs, a large folding table and an upright piano waiting in the corner. Yet the room transforms as the students begin to read from the draft of a recently written scene.
Suddenly we’re in the office of Mr. Davenport, a surly HR manager within the sinister headquarters of X-Corp—the world’s most elite super villain agency. Melody, an aspiring young villain, has just arrived to interview for a position. As the scene plays, it becomes very clear that the interview is not going well…
This is the 10-Minute Musical Project, a new program which seeks to empower students by introducing them to the process of writing an original musical. During the summer writing phases, the program also happened to produce a team of high school writers who are completely preoccupied with the concept of dramatic action.
Morgan, a sophomore at Tahoma Senior High School, didn’t mind being stuck in a studio for hours at a time with other young composers, lyricists and playwrights. “When I heard about the 10-Minute Musical project I was super intrigued because it combines my two loves: theater and songwriting. I enjoy performing in musicals—as well as writing and performing my original songs—so this project seemed to be the perfect way to squish together two loves of mine. A great way to spend my summer!”
This fall, the 10-Minute Musical Project team will be working to develop and present readings of four original works at The 5th Avenue’s NextFest: A Festival of New Musicals. Student directors, stage managers, producers and music directors will be called upon to bring the stories to life.
For Morgan, the process of handing her show over to her peers is thrilling. “I am beyond excited to see our work taken, interpreted and sung by actors during readings and rehearsals. I’m definitely looking forward to all of our team’s hard work paying off!”
It is clear to any observer that every step of the process has been hard work for these students, but they are all in agreement about how important the work is.
Blayne, a senior at Ingraham High School, sees it this way: “On top of being an escape from the troubles that life has in store, musical theater is the type of medium that can make connections, look at real life situations and problems, put society on trial… and provide us a path for a more harmonious future.”
Morgan can’t help adding, “Yeah, I’ve heard multiple times that the shortest distance between two people is a story. And I agree with that completely. With all the troubles going on in our world right now I think we all could benefit from this way to connect to one another.”