The Tahlequah Public Schools Tiger Theater comes alive for a year of musicals and new skills in the spotlight.
Michael Peters, principal and drama instructor at Tahlequah High School, said the school’s drama and theater department has been on hiatus for three years due to COVID-19 and is trying to keep students safe.
Although they experienced a performance hiatus, Peters said it didn’t seem to affect the number of students in the program.
“I have 72 kids right now in the classrooms, then probably about 70 more between the band or the choir program, and just general population students who want to get involved,” Peters said.
Peters said he attended workshops and trainings in New York this summer and plans to use the information he gleaned to help his students grow and learn.
One of the new trainings he teaches his high school students includes a movement-based work system that focuses on how an actor’s movement can help tell and add to a story. He also tries to train new students in the field of drama production.
THS Tiger Theater has yet to unveil its spring musical, but it will take place March 30-April 1 and April 6-8. Once the final details for the show are ironed out at the TPS school board meeting in November, Peters said, they will begin publicizing and fundraising for the show.
Peters looks forward to this year’s next student who will be able to find a voice and have a breakthrough in acting.
As students at THS Tiger Theater begin to learn new techniques, Tahlequah Middle School begins the year with more practices and a new teacher.
Jonah Geiger, an eighth-grade TMS student and third-year theater participant, will be the lead character, “Buddy the Elf,” in the TMS production of “Elf the Musical JR.”
The TMS drama department used to rehearse twice a week for their annual musical, but this year they are stepping up their rehearsals to daily.
“I feel like it really helps. We also do it scene by scene, so we get everything. I feel like it’s a lot more helpful,” Geiger said.
Another addition to the TMS drama scene is Callie Hancock, the new acting and public speaking teacher. She said that although she’s a bit nervous about her first production, she’s also excited to see how it’s going.
“It’s fun to start the year with a show right from the start, because normally they don’t happen until spring. So it’s pretty fun to get out there and get started,” Hancock said.
Also new to the department this year is the type of music students performing.
“They normally do something Disney, so it’s something a little different and I think they really like it,” Hancock said.
Hancock said she thought this musical seemed to be more accessible to students and the characters could be recreated and adapted for each actor.
She hopes that her students, after the musical, will be proud to conquer public speaking and perform in the play in general. Hancock said the theater can be a safe space for students and helps teach his students how to communicate later in life.
While there are many similarities between high school and college theater, the main difference is the deeper elements of high school-level characters and theater production, Hancock said.
“Math teaches you how math can impact the world. Science teaches you science and how it can impact the world. English, social studies, all of that, they teach you that field and its impact on the world,” Peters said. “The theater teaches you how the human being has an impact on the world. Stories are what truly connect us to the world and to each other, and it’s the stories we choose to tell and amplify that continue to help society grow, change, adapt and become what it should be.
check it out
The “Elf the Musical JR” production will take place Friday, November 4 and Saturday, November 5 at the Tahlequah High School Performing Arts Center at 6:30 p.m.