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Nashville Christian high school students are bringing the events surrounding Bloody Sunday to the main stage. Set in Ireland during the Troubles of the 1970s, Laura Lundgren Smith’s The Shape of the Grave introduces us to Colleen who is desperate to find meaning in her own life after tragedy has taken half of her family. NCS actors have spent weeks exploring Irish history, eating Irish food, and interviewing the author of the play. When asked why Lundgren Smith chose to write this historical play for young actors she replied, “because people underestimate teenagers.” NCS actors also worked with renowned acting and dialect coach Jill Massey on their Northern Irish accents to accurately portray this historical piece of literature that has modern-day relevance. Veteran US Marine Jordan Pritchard shared his experience behind the wire in Afghanistan, and our actors have found the insights he offered extremely valuable in informing their acting.
This is a fantastic show for anyone who wants to open a dialogue about the power of understanding history, the importance of avoiding violence, or the despair that can accompany circumstance. Madison Gupton, a junior, plays the main character Colleen and states, “It’s important to see this play, especially today since the world is so divided, and there is so much fighting everywhere. This play makes you step back and think about the bigger picture.” The Shape of the Grave will be performed in conjunction with Annie Jr. on October 5 and 6. Childcare will be provided for free during the performance of The Shape of the Grave so patrons can bring the whole family to enjoy Nashville Chrisitan Schools’ Weekend of One Acts. Annie JR will be at 2:00 PM and 6:30 PM on Saturday and at 2:00 PM on Sunday with The Shape of the Grave following immediately after at 4:00 PM and 8:00 PM on Saturday and 4:00 PM on Sunday. Tickets are $10 general admission for the combined showcase and can be ordered online at https://ncseagles.ejoinme.org/oneactweekend2019 or purchased at the door.
Kayce Green, Fine Arts Director at Nashville Christian School, was selected to attend the 2019 Tennessee Arts Academy this past July. She was one of only 15 administrators chosen out of hundreds of applicants. The Academy, the nation's premier summer teacher training institute for K–12 arts education, invited more than three hundred and fifty K-12 public and private school teachers from across the state to attend the week-long session. A program of the Tennessee Department of Education, the Academy has been held annually since 1986 on the campus of Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.
This year the Academy's nationally and internationally renowned instructors came from across the United States to teach a diverse range of classes in music, theater, visual art, and dance as well as special classes in arts leadership, administration and assessment.
There were many special moments throughout the week, starting with TAA’s opening performance on July 14th by the cutting-edge ensemble Presidio Brass. On Wednesday night, July 17, the most anticipated event of the Bravo! Awards Banquet and Performance was the presentation of the TAA Lorin Hollander Award to arts and education advocates Jeanette and Bill Watkins and the TAA Distinguished Service Award to the acclaimed Broadway director and choreographer Jeff Calhoun (Newsies, The Will Rogers Follies). Following the awards ceremony, an inspired performance by Broadway star Alton Fitzgerald White (The Lion King,Ragtime) was presented.
Other major highlights of the week included a speech on Monday to the TAA participants by the noted St. Olaf Choir conductor Anton Armstrong, followed on Tuesday by a presentation from the best-selling author and illustrator Peter H. Reynolds. Award recipient Jeff Calhoun and performer Alton Fitzgerald White also addressed the participants. Rounding out the week were performances by Nashville Ballet (72 Steps), Nashville Children’s Theatre (Tuck Everlasting), and the percussion ensemble Sympatico. At Friday’s concluding Finale Luncheon, the Joe W. Giles Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to the award- winning, long-serving Tennessee visual art educator Donna Anderson, followed by a performance of the Tennessee Arts Academy Chorale, under the direction of Alan McClung. Nashville Christian School was honored as a Tennessee Arts Academy School of Distinction at the luncheon.
The teachers and administrators trained at the Tennessee Arts Academy each year impact over 150,000 Tennessee students all across the state when they return to their individual school districts and classrooms in the fall. The Academy's advanced curriculum, cutting-edge methodology and unique philosophical perspective maximize participants' learning experiences. NCS Fine Arts Director Kayce Green said, “It was enlightening to learn a great deal on how much the public schools and state standards are researched, written, applied, and documented in the state systems compared to private schools. This conference allowed me to see what works across the board, what we are doing well, and how we can improve. I was able to compare our fine arts opportunities with other schools and systems, and I personally had the distinct opportunity to help with defining teaching standards across the state and finalizing the provisions and prerequisites for schools both private and public to be able to apply to become Tennessee Arts Schools. I also spent some time working towards writing and applying for fine arts grants and scholarships. I was very encouraged about the fine arts program we offer at NCS and look forward to its continued growth and development.”
Art Wee k is always highly anticipated each year as the gallery walls go up in the commons and student work from all year is put on display. This year’s artwork did not disappoint, and there were many notable pieces.
Sophomore Bett Hoyt took Best in Show with her incredibly detailed underwater seascape pottery piece titled Under the Sea. Senior Annmarie Alexander has won multiple art awards during her time at NCS including thousands of dollars in college scholarships. She won the Faculty Award with her piece entitled God’s Canvas. Earlier this year, her piece Yellowstone won her a $12,000 scholarship from the Scholastic Art Show in the Cheekwood exhibit.
Because of a power outage at the school, we were unable to have the Visual Arts Reception and Awards as planned. However, we wanted to make sure to recognize all of our winners:
Art I - Madison Turner
Art II - Lexi Hardaway
Art III - Allie Grace Greenlee
Art IV - Tollie Boone
Congratulations to all who placed this year! You can see all of the high school artwork on display in the slideshow below.
The Belmont University Department of Art and Tennessee Art Education Association is proud to announce the 11th Annual Middle TN Regional Student Art Exhibition. This year, they received a total of 790 received student entries, only 96 were selected for the exhibition. One of those students was our very own senior, Annmarie Alexander!
This year's panel of jurors included Dr. Jeremy Blair (Assistant Professor of Art Education at TN Tech’s School of Art, Craft & Design), Jianna Mirabelli (Art Educator at Inglewood Elementary School), Tom Stanford (Photography Coordinator at Nossi College of Art), and Caitlyn Henneberry (Belmont University Art Education student). They were presented with quite the challenge, selecting works to represent the Middle TN region. We are so proud of Annmarie and her incredible talent, guided under the leadership of NCS art teacher Donna Torrez.
Annmarie's artwork will be on display in the through January 25th at the Leu Center for the Visual Arts located at 1900 Belmont Boulevard, Nashville, TN 37212. Congratulations Annmarie!
With bullying, school shootings and teen suicide on the rise, NCS senior Tollie Boone was inspired to create this powerful spoken word and song in response – Only Yesterday.
"When I started writing this, it was just a short little poem that I really thought nothing about. It was just something to get off my brain to help me fall asleep. After I finished writing, I realized that this world isn’t as safe as it was when I was younger. I used to be able to go outside and not have to worry if someone was going to hurt me. Now in today’s society, we have to increase security and make rules more strict. Keeping people out only invites more problems in. The only way we can help someone is if we ask. We can’t keep ignoring one another thinking that one day we will say something to them. That 'one day' we have now might not always be there. Galatians 6:10 says, 'Therefore, as we have the opportunity, let us do good to all people…'"
Act well your part; therein lies all the honor. This quote from Alexander Pope is the motto of the International Thespian Society. The ITS group at each school is called a troupe and is usually led by the theater teacher. Students are inducted into this theater honor society based on points earned in a variety of areas including technical theater, production, and performance. Nashville Christian School has both a Junior Thespian Troupe for 6th-8th grade students and a High School Troupe for 9th-12th grade students. Induction qualifications for the junior troupe are 50 points, while 100 points must be earned for induction into the International High School troupe.
Students are recognized for theatrical achievements and also earn scholar recognition for maintaining high GPA’s during their stage productions. Here at NCS it is not unusual for our thespian students to be on the honor roll and president’s list! We have had a few seniors graduate with the highest honors offered by the ITS. Jack Forte (2018) and Laura Pickard (2016) both graduated as International Honor Thespian Vice President's List Scholars. Joey Hendricks, Hendrick Shelton, and Maggie Shivers all graduated in 2016 as National Honor Thespian Vice President's List Scholars. The time it takes to reach these levels of excellence means that the thespian troupe members spend a lot of time together. Senior Tollie Boone says, “The thespian club at NCS has given me a group of people that I consider my family. They have helped me overcome many obstacles in my life and also helped me become more confident in myself. I can always count on my thespian family to have my back through everything.”
Tollie is a great person to speak to about the troupe. Last year, she became our first student to reach the level of International Honor Thespian during her junior year. She earned this honor while maintaining a scholar level GPA, playing basketball and being a hydration engineer for the football team! Her passion for performing and love for technical theater have combined to keep her involved in nearly every performance on the NCS stage. Tollie started her theater career with minor roles such as a munchkin in Wizard of Oz, but grew to lead shows as James in James and the Giant Peach and Adelaide in Guys and Dolls! Most recently she was seen as Kyler in Bring it On!. What many people don’t know is that Tollie is an exceptional lighting designer and brings her expertise to almost all of the shows that are produced at NCS. She plots and programs the lighting for every scene in each production.
When asked about her reaction to achieving this level of recognition as a junior, she replied, “I was super happy. Being the first junior to achieve that as well made it even more special. It took so much time and dedication to the theater department performing and helping backstage but it paid off.“ Tollie spent a week this summer with fellow thespians Helina Butler, Taylor Dahl, Michael Dubois, and Megan Parker training in Princeton, New Jersey at the New Beginnings workshop with Peter Sklar. That experience culminated in a showcase where they performed monologues on stage at the Orpheum theater in New York. Tollie and Taylor will be returning for another intensive session over the Christmas and New Year’s break. Tollie plans to major in theater in college.
NCS is proud of both our current thespians and aspiring actors and their work on and off the stage. As each of them strives to follow the path God sets before them, we know that they will continue to use the talents He has given them to glorify Him. Make sure to catch this year’s performances and support the fabulous young people that make up the Fine Arts program at Nashville Christian School.
The Eagles were flying high, literally, in this year’s spring musical, Bring It On. The cast came together with an unforgettable, high-energy performance with a perfect combination of adolescent humor and gravity-defying stunts. There were several newcomers to the stage as well as some seasoned veterans to round out a dynamic crew. We asked senior Chandler White to tell us more about his experience as a first-time participant in an NCS drama performance. Here’s what he had to say:
Rapping. Basketball. Dancing. Stunts. Cheerleading. How could I possibly say no to that combination? I have always been a super athlete, playing sports at any time of the day against anyone. However, I have never tried a play or even wanted to be a part of anything related to theater. However, this year proved to be a little different.
After weeks of my friends convincing and pushing me, thinking about my opportunity to try something new, and Coach Kayce encouraging me non-stop, I decided to audition for “Bring It On: The Musical!” This decision proved to be the best decision that I have ever made!
There are plenty of ups and downs with everything in life. However, I can honestly say that this play was coasting up the entire time. The best part of this play was the community that we were able to create. The message of the production was, simply put, “Make the most of your opportunities and be the person that you want to be.” Each and every individual in the play made the most of the moments we had together and have now taken themselves and created the person that they wanted to be.
The time that we put into this play was almost unbelievable! We spent hours, days, weeks, months practicing all the different lines, choreography, stunts and motions. I would probably say that the most difficult part of this play was breaking out of my comfort zone to sing and dance. However, after taking a few lessons in both and realizing that everyone supported me and was there for me, I was very surprised that I could do it! Before I knew it, I had become a true showman!
The messages behind this play were so impactful and powerful that most people overlook them. However, they stuck with me. I have taken away many valuable lessons that have allowed me to strengthen relationships, develop my individual self, and enjoy the life that I have been given. If I could leave anyone with one small thing that would impact their lives forever, I would tell them this — try a play. It’ll be one of the greatest decisions that you ever make.
Click here to view all of the great photos from the show!
What do you do at NCS?
I teach elementary art, middle school art, and high school Art I.
Tell us a little about your background (where you grew up, where you went to college, family, pets, etc.).
I grew up in sunny Florida. I always loved art as a child and knew that it was a natural way for me to express myself so I studied art education at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. I started teaching art right after I graduated and have been teaching for 15 years now. My husband, Conrad and I have 3 children. Ellie is 10, Sarah is 5, and Jonah is 1. We moved to Nashville last summer and we are loving it here.
What is your favorite thing to do?
My favorite thing to do is to run. I always feel better after a run. Running is how I clear my mind and get lost in worship. It’s a time to myself to get outside. I just love it.
What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is getting to know the kids and being a part of their day. I love for the art room to be a bright spot in a child’s day.
What is your least favorite part of your job?
My least favorite part of my job is cleaning up constantly from paint to clay to more paint. Teaching art is a messy job!
If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be?
I would be a lifeguard in Hawaii.
You teach high schoolers – if you could go back and give your high school self any advice, what would it be?
I would tell my high school self to think of others as more important than yourself. I think it’s easy as a teenager to be self absorbed. I wish I would have looked outside of myself a lot more.
If you could have a super power, what would it be and why?
I would like to have a super power of blinking my eyes and the house is clean and the laundry is done!
What is the best book you have ever read?
The Shack was my favorite book. I remember writing down so many meaningful quotes.
Tell us something that might surprise us about you?
I’ve run 12 full marathons.
This year's Talent Show (Celebrate the Child) was hosted for the first time ever by 3rd grader Ellie Sheehan. Seasoned co-host, Coach Jeff Brothers, played Ed McMahon to her Johnny Carson and the two had great chemistry onstage.
But the highlights of the show were of course the stellar performances by Nashville Christian School students and parents. First grade represented with Jeremy Wells back on stage, this time with Brady Irwin and another crowd-pleasing dance performance. Andrew Jarosemich showed his smooth moves with his dance to Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal.
There were some great duos with a dance by fifth graders Isabella Jennings and Aubrey Hollahan, and the Webb brothers Champ and Gabe showing their skills on drums and base guitar. Freshman Aubrey Page and junior Anna Jones sang beautiful solos and then teamed up for a great duet of Carry Me Home. Seniors Seven Gross and Will Batty joined forces at the keyboard with It's Too Late, and fourth grader Finn Shaver also tickled the ivories with Waltzing With Elephants.
One of the unique things that makes the Nashville Christian School Talent Show special is seeing parents join their children on the stage. Sixth grader Taylor Dahl and freshman Briteynn Fuson both sang beautifully with accompanyment from their fathers. And of course everyone enjoyed seeing the Sheehan and Posavac families come together with a repeat performance by Horse Taco.
If you missed any of these great performances, it's not too late. You can see the show in its entirety below!
The Elementary Art Show was such a great night of celebrating the creativity our our youngest eagles. Everyone was excited to see their artwork framed and show it off to their families. It was great to see the students that received ribbons beaming with pride. Families got to slow down from their busy schedules and enjoy some time to do art together. How often does that happen? We had origami, drawing, spin art, and even shrinky dinks.
We also took time on this special night to honor someone very special to the Nashville Christian family, Mrs. Fran Sexton. Fran blessed Nashville Christian School and its students for thirteen years. Mrs. Sexton has served as a second grade teacher, art teacher, and administrator. When students were asked to share thoughts about Mrs. Sexton they were quick to respond, lovingly.
Here's what some of her former students had to say about her:
"I remember the bird painting we did. I loved that project." - Griffin Smith
"She pushed us to perfection." - Peyton Woodard
"I remember the beach project that we did and still have it hanging on my wall." - Julia Belle
"She let me stay after class to work on a special project that is still hanging on my wall at home." - Millie Boone
"We did different projects that I thought would turn out weird, but they always turned out cool." - Devin Ray
Mrs. Sexton served as a mentor to our teachers and always spread an attitude of positivity. Her love for the school continues when she visits just to say hello. We miss seeing Mrs. Sexton every day and wish her the best in her retirement.
What a great night, and we can't wait until next year's art show!
Congratulations to the ribbon winners:
First place: Olivia Cart, Red and Blue Makes Purple Cat
Second place: Walker Overbay, Pears Still-Life
Third place: Malachi Payne, Yellow and Blue Make Green Frog
First place: Duncan Holt, Pears Still-Life
Second place: Cooper Daugherty, Rousseau Inspired Tiger
Third place: Scout Green, Romero Britto Face
First place: Joshua Peffer, Rose Window Design
Second place: Peyton Kubik, Cutouts Inspired by Matisse
Third place: London Biggs, Landscape with Rocks
First place: Ellie Sheehan, Landscape with Rocks
Second place: AJ Page, Landscape with Mountains
Third place: Isaiah Moore, Toucan
First place: Bryson Elizer, Self-Portrait
Second place: Landan Cooper, Self-Portrait
Third place: Caleb Hamilton, Football
First place: Christopher Mitchell, Self-Portrait
Second place: Mia Ryckman, Self-Portrait
Third place: Jane Claire Gill, The Wave
For the 3rd year in a row, Nashville Christian took a group of thespians to compete and perform at the Junior Theater Festival in Atlanta, GA. This year’s event included more than 6,000 students and educators from 130 educational musical theater groups representing 30 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Student groups perform 15 minutes from MTI’s Broadway Junior Collection for adjudication by leading theater professionals. Groups are rated in the areas of music, acting, dance and overall performance. The adjudicators offer constructive criticism to each group to encourage further learning in key areas. NCS students earned high praise for their performance from James and the Giant Peach, Jr. You can see their performance below.
Throughout the weekend, NCS staff and students attended workshops taught by broadway professionals. Senior Jack Forte and junior Annmarie Alexander were chosen as festival All-Stars and got the opportunity to attend a special workshop and participate in the awards ceremony. 8th grader Justin Littrell and sophomore Emily Batty were selected to participate in the Broadway Jr. Slam where they had just one hour to rehearse a song and dance for presentation on the main stage.
Nashville Christian senior thespian Ryan Leflar said, “As a senior going to JTF I was very devastated that last night and the last day. This experience has given me such a unique opportunity with a talented group that has become a family. I will miss everyone dearly and I hope to take this experience with me to college to better myself.”
See the group's full performance for adjudication below!
Plans are already being made for next year’s trip to the Junior Theater Festival with hopes of earning a trophy and a spot with other top performers onstage on the final day of the event. Stay tuned for information about upcoming auditions!
This year, the Fine Arts Department added an additional show to their schedule with a special presentation of Steel Magnolias. Faculty and staff were invited to audition for the show and the final cast included Nicole Arnold as Clairee, Julie Shaver as Truvy, Kathy Gupton played M’Lynn, and Kayce Green doubled us as director of the show and Ouiser. The role of Shelby was played by senior Makenna Paszek and Annelle was played by junior Tollie Boone.
Their performances did exactly what they were meant to do, drawing “laughter through tears” from mesmerized audiences. We interviewed the cast members about the experience:
What made you decide to audition for this show?
Makenna: I decided to audition for the show because my mom had said she really loved the movie and thought I would make a great Shelby. I hadn’t heard of it before auditions, but decided to watch the movie and fell in love with the story.
Tollie: The movie is one of my all time favorites that I love watching with my mom. Also I wish to continue in acting as a career and I had never done a straight show before and so I thought this would be the best show to learn another way to act.
Nicole: My decision to audition for the show was based on the enjoyment I get from being on stage and the insights that putting myself back in "acting shoes" gives me when I direct students. Reminding yourself of all the apprehensions and challenges that your students face helps you to relate to them more when mentoring and instructing.
Kathy: Steel Magnolias is one of my favorite movies. My friends and I quote lines from it all the time. When I saw that NCS was planning to do a high school/faculty production of it, I knew that I wanted to be a part of it.
Julie: Actually, Kathy Gupton signed me up for the audition and printed out a monologue for me to use! ☺
Kayce: I wanted to just direct but in the audition Nicole and Trisha made me read for Oiuser.
What was the best thing about the experience?
Makenna: Throughout auditions, rehearsal, and the show, I grew in my relationships with the other cast members. Having a small cast means a lot of bonding. It was really great to see the faculty members outside of their jobs. We all became super close during the time spent on this show. They all made it a wonderful last show for me.
Tollie: Getting to know the teachers involved during and after the show and being able to go to them if I need anything.
Nicole: The best thing about the experience was the camaraderie developed between the cast and the support that we were able to give one another.
Kathy: Getting to know the other cast members better and being able to work with them on the stage was the best experience. I literally laughed my way through every play practice. I also enjoyed watching myself grow and improve from beginning to end.
Julie: It sounds cliché, I know, but the best thing was definitely the camaraderie among the cast and crew. What an amazing group of people!!
Kayce: The best thing was the therapy it provided when it comes to how and when to grieve. I think that was the biggest part that everyone that was in the show and in the audience related to. Everyone has had to grieve, and we are never done grieving the loss of a loved one. The more opportunities we have to experience such a strong emotion together, the more people realize how much we all have in common.
What was the biggest challenge?
Makenna: The biggest challenged I faced was being pushed as an actress. I have never done a show as serious as this one was and I had to overcome some obstacles. I had to really get in the mindset that diabetes is something that seriously affects some people in the world and it wasn’t something I could take lightly. This show was a very emotional one for sure.
Tollie: Having to act like I was pregnant was probably the hardest thing for me. It was so uncomfortable sitting and even standing. I had to learn how to walk with the belly and it was just an overall strange experience.
Nicole: The biggest challenge was balancing time and schedules while being a mom, teaching, directing the elementary show and working on our JTF performance.
Kathy: Learning all the lines and cues and ways to deliver the lines was a challenge. Trying not to laugh when Makenna and I were doing the scene where we argue after she tells me she is pregnant may have been the biggest challenge. There was a time during the last week of practices where we could not look at each other and say our lines at the same time without laughing. Thankfully Mrs. Arnold gave us some exercises to do to get through the giggles. While not necessarily a challenge, effectively portraying M’Lynn’s grief in the last scene was something that I worked the hardest on.
Julie: Definitely learning my lines: I didn’t realize how many lines Truvy had in the play! Oh! And all the late nights at practice. I am usually in bed by 8:30!
Kayce: The challenge for me was seeing this from both perspectives. Being on the stage as a director, while acting was totally challenging. Two hats, one very specific and one very broad, figuring out the story and telling it and also, designing it so others can tell it was very hard. It was like plotting the map and then manning a portion of the ship was very difficult.
Anything else you want to say about your experience or that you want people to know?
Tollie: Another thing I loved about this show was being able to perform it for my bible teacher Coach McPherson and his wife and seeing their faces all smiling while watching the show. Being able to put a smile on their face was very heartwarming.
Nicole: I want people to know that we have very talented faculty and students and we need to get more people on campus to experience the impact of quality live theater.
Kathy: I think that everyone can identify with each of the characters in some way or another. I see people that I know in each of the characters and the other actors did a phenomenal job of bringing them to life. I hope that the play and characters touched everyone in some way that was helpful for them. The theater department does an amazing job. There were nights that they did not leave until after midnight to get the stage and costumes completed. It is hard to fully cover everything that they did to prepare for the play. A huge shout out to Kayce’s amazing direction and set design skills and Mrs. Arnold’s spot-on costume design!
Julie: It was truly an amazing first acting experience. I really appreciate my castmates and especially Kayce’s expertise and advice!
Kayce: I would like to say thank you to my husband and my daughter. They are my world. Thank you to: Kathy Gupton, whose calm, reflective, and quietly strong M’Lynn broke my heart in auditions. Julie Shaver’s clear, unapologetic Truvy, who steers us all along, Tollie Boone for her artist’s heart, Makenna Pazeck for her brilliant, fiery stubborn portrayal of Shelby, and Nicole Arnold, whose Clairee is beautifully timed, and is certainly the yin to my Ouiser yang. And to God, for the incredible way he steers my life every day. He is in and behind every story that we tell. Everything leads back to Him.
This past weekend, NCS elementary, middle and high school fine arts students performed in the One Act Weekend featuring Alice in Wonderland Jr. and Schoolhouse Rock Live! The middle school performance of Alice in Wonderland Jr. was directed by one of our very own students, junior Anna Jones.
Anna has performed in many shows at NCS, including Lion King Jr.(Rafiki), Into the Woods(Little Red), Guys and Dolls(General Cartwright), and James and the Giant Peach Jr.(Earthworm). This was her first time acting as student director of an NCS performance. We recently interviewed Anna about the experience and here is what she had to say.
Why did you decide to take the role of director for Alice in Wonderland Jr.?
I have always wanted to be in the staged version of Alice in Wonderland and when I heard the middle school was doing it, I knew that I have to be involved somehow. I applied for a position on the team by writing an essay, and here we are.
How is directing different from acting in a show?
It is completely different from acting. Directing is super hard. There are so many things that the director has to do that I didn’t even expect. I have learned so much from directing this show that will actually help in acting.
What has been your biggest challenge in directing this show?
Probably being able to communicate my vision for the show to little kids. When you are imagining something for a scene and you want it done, it becomes challenging trying to get kids to do it right.
You are directing students from elementary and middle school. Tell me about your experience with the cast.
It has been amazing. They all have so much energy that has been fun channeling into their passion for theater. The middle schoolers have been such good influences on the elementary students as well.
What should audiences know about this show before coming to see it?
That I just wanted the kids to have fun during this show. Above anything else, I wanted this to be a fun and positive environment for these kids.
Is there an underlying message or thought you want audiences to take away from this show?
The big question in this show is “whooo areee youuuu?” Alice goes through wonderland and changes a lot and however much she changes, she always finds out that somebody doesn't like her, and she doesn't quite fit in. Through the show she learns who she is. I want audiences to think about that question throughout the show and find out what it means to them.
What are your hopes for the future of NCS theater?
I really hope that we keep growing and blossoming like we have these past two years. I really want people to keep joining the theater program and experiencing what's it like to be in the middle of it.
If you missed the performance, you can watch it here!
Once again, the NCS drama department produced a fantastic show with Guys and Dolls, an award-winning musical based on two short stories of Damon Runyon written in the 20’s and 30’s about some lovable hustlers, gamblers and showgirls in historic New York City.
The plot highlights the lives of these characters with a storyline based around the romances of two oddball couples. One comedic couple is nightclub performer Adelaide who has been engaged for 14 years to Nathan Detroit who runs “the oldest established, permanent floating crap game in New York.” The other couple is big-time gambler Sky Masterson and innocent mission worker, Sister Sarah Brown.
Leading the well-cast ensemble were seasoned NCS performer Jack Forte as Nathan Detroit and newcomer to the stage, Bryce Pemberton as Sky Masterson. Bryce is regularly recognized as Nashville Christian’s starting quarterback; however, he showed he is multi-talented with his sly, charming and loveable portrayal of the Bible-quoting gambler. Many other first-time performers stepped off the ball fields and gym floors, and ultimately out of their comfort zones, to try the stage.
“It was great to step out of my comfort zone and see another side of NCS besides athletics. It was cool to see the actors in their element and how they carried themselves. Also the amount of work that they put in to put on a show is insane.” - Will Irwin
“It was very different from what I'm used to, but very fun and funny. It was definitely a good experience!” - Slater Howard
Maggie Shivers (Nicely-Nicely Johnson) and Annmarie Alexander (Benny Southstreet) played the sidekicks to Nathan Detroit with charm and moxie. Leading lady Abby Shivers played the stiff then liberated missionary, Sarah Brown, so believably, and Tollie Boone was perfect as the ever-frustrated and long-engaged Adelaide. Another newcomer to the stage was Tanner Goodman as Big Jule, a serious gambler from Chicago. Tanner was a great combination of grouchy gangster and gentle giant against stage veteran Justin Littrell’s hilarious performance as Harry the Horse. All the guys and dolls are too numerous to name, but they brought the laughs and wowed the audience like never before.
Here’s what Fine Arts Director Joey Boone had to say about the show:
“Once in a while a show comes along where it feels like God smiled a little extra on you, and things just fall into place. While it still takes LOTS of hard work on everyone's part, it just seems like everyone is in the right role both on and off stage. Well, in my opinion, that was Guys and Dolls. From the costumes to the cast to the students working backstage…the set, the lights, the parents helping behind the scenes at rehearsals, I just could not be more pleased. In the twelve years I have been here, that was the smoothest running show to date. Everyone put their best foot forward, and it paid off. I am proud of them all.” - Joey Boone
Kayce Greene directed the show and was proud as well. This is Kayce's first year in the drama program, and she has helped take it to another level. Here’s what she had to say about her first run directing an NCS production:
“I wanted to personally thank everyone for being involved in the show, whether you were in it, came to see it, you donated, you helped labor a little bit or a lot…I can't tell you how much you made a huge impact on the show and these kids' lives. The show came off better than I think any of us could've imagined, and I am extremely grateful to the kids and to all of you. I dream of a school filled with athletic and arts programs that span all grade levels and grow a REAL sense of community! These kids and everyone involved helped that come to light. This particular production will live in my memory forever for so many reasons. I can’t wait for the next one!” – Kayce Green
Enjoy these photos from the show and stay tuned for “Luck Be A Lady” at the end.
Here are some fun facts about the production. Did you know?
- Number of people in the cast and crew = 65
- Number of 6th graders = 6
- Number of 7th graders = 10
- Number of 8th graders = 4
- Number of Freshmen = 4
- Number of Sophomores = 9
- Number of Juniors = 7
- Number of Seniors = 11
- Students working behind the scenes during the show = 9
- Number of lights on the stage = 358
- Number of costumes originally built = 37
- Number of costumes “pulled” = 104
- Number of buttons sewn = 127
- Man hours to create a Mission Cape = 4
- Mission Capes and Jackets created = 14
- Props in the show = 32
- Man hours to make the Roxy sign = 10
- Number of batteries used in the show = 1,632
- Average time to block a scene = 2.5 hours
- Hours of rehearsals = 122
Celebrate the Child at Nashville Christian School was a night full of rising stars! Elementary, middle and high schoolers performed, and even some of our talented parents joined them on stage. One of the most popular acts of the night was kindergartner Jeremy Wells who danced solo to "Watch Me." Check out his awesome moves here.
The show was hosted by Coach Brothers with juniors Jack Forte and Will Batty, providing some great entertainment, as well as comic relief, with their act “Bumpy and Rucket.” The audience was also surprised by a visit from alumni Hendrick Shelton who reprised his role as “the church lady,” albeit with a beard this time.
The Junior Theater Festival group of 3rd through 12th graders did a stellar performance of their 15-minute abridged version of Lion King. Another fan favorite was the always entertaining group "Horse Taco" who enticed the crowd by throwing out candy and t-shirts. Father/daughter acts Joey and Millie Boone and Eric and Taylor Dahl were a big hit and the Wizard of Oz mashup performed by several high school students surprised the audience with guest appearances by teachers Kayce Green and Nicole Arnold.
Once again, the Nashville Christian family came together to support one another and cheer on this great group of talented students! Here are some additional photos from this star-studded evening:
The cast of this year's Junior Theater Festival group consisted of Nashville Christian students from 3rd grade all the way up through 12th grade. The group competed by performing The Lion King Jr. While performing their 15 minute abridged version of the show, our students were judged by two Broadway professionals and were scored on choreography, acting, singing, voice, and storytelling.
The Junior Theater Festival (JTF) is the world’s largest celebration of young people and musical theater. Produced by the Junior Theater Group and under the educational and artistic supervision of iTheatrics, JTF brings students, teachers and Broadway professionals together to celebrate outstanding student musical theater productions. Events include adjudications, workshops for students, meeting Broadway celebrities, awards ceremonies and the largest collection of musical theater professional development under one roof. Since its inception in 2003, JTF has grown from 650 people in attendance to over 5000 attendees.
The weekend was filled with educational classes for both students and teachers ranging from technical production, dance, acting, music theatre performance, and how to be a good audience. In the evenings, our group enjoyed a first-time viewing of the live film of the Broadway musical Newsies, recorded in Los Angeles and coming to theaters the second week of February. Our students were also able to participate in an up-close-and-personal question and answer session with many Broadway professionals including the writers of Broadway musicals like Thomas Schumacher, the head of Disney Theatricals, and the Tony-award-winning director and choreographer of Newsies. NCS junior Ryan Leflar got to shake the hand of Newsies choreographer Jeff Calhoun and ask him a question that was answered live on stage. They also had the opportunity to meet and get a book signed by Mary Pope Osborne, author of the Magic Tree House books.
Two students were chosen to represent Nashville Christian on the main stage for the Broadway All-Stars. Hope McWright performed in the number "I Like To Move It" from Madagascar. Jack Forte performed as a lost boy in "I Won't Grow Up", from Peter Pan. Jack and Hope were also chosen as All-Stars and have received invitations to participate without further audition, in the Broadway workshops in New York this summer.
A group of Nashville Christian performers and directors were nominated to go into a pool to be chosen at random to create and perform numbers in less than an hour, called Broadway Slam! Maggie Shivers was chosen out of the actress pool and won the honor of singing one of the lead vocals in the song "Fame" in front of 5000 screaming fans. Justin Litrell was chosen out of the actor pool to perform "Tradition" from Fiddler on the Roof.
Here’s what some of our students, teachers and parents had to say about this amazing theater experience:
It was very gratifying to see our students from elementary, middle, and high school all working together to accomplish a wonderful performance. The older, more experience actors were role models for our elementary students and were so encouraging! - Trisha McWright, NCS Teacher and Parent
I was a Lost Boy in the song "I Won't Grow Up", from Peter Pan. It was a very interesting and exciting experience. When we first got into the room, they separated us into groups and were put into a room with a choreographer and music director. We only had an hour to learn a song and dance, and it was hectic at first, but we got it fairly quickly and were ready in no time at all. As for performing on the big stage, it was a little hard to hear the music over all the cheering from the crowd, but other than that it was amazing to be able to get up and perform in front of an audience that big. – Jack Forte, 11th Grade
JTF was so amazing, I couldn't even believe it was happening in real life! - Finn Shaver, 3rd Grade.
There is something almost magical about the entire JTF experience. These kids love to perform, love to sing, love theater itself. Being able to see these students work together from practicing and preparation to performing to encouraging each other and celebrating after their performance was amazing to witness. One of my favorite parts of the JTF experience is when the students come together on the last day to process the weekend with their teachers. I loved listening to each student’s perspective and the way they were encouraging to each other and respectful of each other’s points of view. As a parent, I also appreciated the encouragement and respect that the teachers gave the students. I know they carry these words of encouragement with them. - Kathy Gupton, NCS Teacher and Parent
JTF was a tremendous experience for Kate. In addition to helping her hone new skills, JTF deepened her appreciation for the creative arts and the theater community. - Kathleen Pearson
With this being our first year to attend JTF, Taylor as a participant and myself as a chaperone, we weren't sure what to expect. Once we arrived, it was like we had been going for years. It warmed my heart to see the older students embrace the younger ones and take them under their wings to help them prepare for their performance and guide them through it. No one told them to do it, they just did. We may have been a small school theater group, but we were big and mighty with what we brought to the show, from our strong performance to our outward appearance and kindness to each other and those around us. I feel so blessed that Taylor had this opportunity to experience and learn so much about theater and grow in her relationships with her fellow thespians. - Les Dahl
As a parent, my view of the JTF program was inspiring and powerful. I witnessed many practices and then the performance. I enjoyed seeing the children improve. They worked with tired bodies and weak voices to get their 15 minutes on stage just right. It finally began to click and fall in place. For that 15 minutes, all the postures and voices blended to allow the audience to see Lion King the NCS way. - Melanie Frizzell, NCS Parent
JTF was like entering a whole new world. You were surrounded by the theater vibe! Everyone there was so welcoming and accepting. I can easily say that it was one of the best theater experiences I have ever had. – Madison Gupton, 7th Grade
Nashville Christian elementary students gave another stellar performance – this time with Peter Pan Jr.! “It's been a fun challenge to work with so many young people in this show. Our team finds it a blessing to build students up with ‘faith, trust and pixie dust,’ so that they may follow their dreams and ‘fly,’ said Director Nicole Arnold.
This talented group of kindergarten through 5th graders enchanted audiences with their voices, dancing, and pure fun. Fifth grader Taylor Dahl nailed the role of Peter Pan, capturing his mischievous and playful spirit. She crowed like only a true Peter Pan could do.
Megan Parker was pure sweetness as Wendy Darling with a motherly fondness of her siblings, the lost boys, and the indians.
The rest of the Darling family included the adorable brothers John (Jacob Ellis) and Michael (Finn Shaver) and their parents. Zoja King played the doting Mrs. Darling while Wyatt Martin did double duty as both the grouchy and stern Mr. Darling as well as Peter’s archenemy, the villainous yet bumbling Captain Hook.
Essential to the adventure was Tinkerbell, played by Caleigh Posovac, who had just the right balance of charm and sass on stage as the devoted sidekick.
The bright and colorful costumes highlighted the incredible rotating set created by Josh and Kayce Green that turned from the darling nursery into a pirate ship, into the Indians lair.
The talented cast performed for a full house in their final show on Sunday afternoon, and we wanted to share with you some bits from the show as well as some great behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast!
Congratulations to Justin Littrell, Music Theatre International’s Broadway Junior Student of the Month! Music Theatre International (MTI) is one of the world's leading theatrical licensing agencies, granting theatres from around the world the rights to perform the greatest selection of musicals from Broadway and beyond. Each month, they will be honoring a student who “displays the exemplary qualities of dedication, passion, leadership and spirit.” Of the hundreds of outstanding applicants, they selected NCS 7th grader, Justin Littrell for the month of November.
In her nominating essay to MTI, Drama teacher Nicole Arnold said, “Justin has a passion for theater that has survived bullying, cancer, and delayed development due to his illness! Although he is in remission, the leukemia he suffered as a young child delayed his muscle development. Choreography is difficult for him. He never learned to skip or ride a bike. However, Justin never quits striving to become a better actor. As we prepared for JTF 2016, I had the blessing of watching him push his personal bar higher and higher as he worked with the ensemble on our adjudication piece. He came back with a renewed fire to accomplish things he hadn't done before that he knew would help him as an actor. Justin knew that choreography was going to be a big part of our new show so he and his mom started working on skipping to build his coordination and agility! He is an inspiration to students and adults alike.”
Justin has participated in several Broadway Junior productions at Nashville Christian School including Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Charlie), Fantastic Mr. Fox (Badger), and is currently preparing to play the role of Mufasa in Lion King Jr. for the upcoming Junior Theatre Festival. “Broadway Junior is fun,” said Justin, “I get to be in a show that is so much bigger than myself. We work hard for several weeks to make the show the best we can make it. When we finally put it all together it is a masterpiece. Being in plays makes me feel happy. When I am in a play I can never feel down, there are always people there to help. I like doing plays with my friends. Being in plays gives me confidence. When I am in plays I feel this boost of energy and I feel like I can do anything. Broadway Junior gives me JOY!”
Justin gives joy to everyone else when he performs on the stage, and we are so proud of his achievements in drama. Congratulations Justin!
Caroline Armstrong, Abby Shivers, and Maggie Shivers are some of Kingston Springs most talented teenage residents who have been working hard as first-time student directors for the upcoming one-act weekend at Nashville Christian School. The two productions, both featuring Roald Dahl’s famous work, are Fantastic Mr. Fox and James and the Giant Peach Jr.
Caroline Armstrong is a senior and is new to the drama program at NCS and is the student-director for Fantastic Mr. Fox. Caroline is no stranger to foxes or any other wild animal for that matter. Her family owns Armstrong Animal Adventures, a company that provides animal education programs for children. When asked why she wanted to direct, Caroline explained, “I originally wanted to direct for the experience; however, after I started, I learned how much fun it was to work with such a diverse group of people. I love to work with the kids and help them further their knowledge and skills.”
Abby Shivers is a sophomore and has been a part of the NCS drama program since elementary school. While typically found on the stage in a starring role, she took her first turn at directing the middle school production of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory Jr. as a freshman. Now she is undertaking the direction of James and the Giant Peach Jr. with her older sister, Maggie. “It’s definitely different directing than it is actually performing on the stage. I’m used to just memorizing my lines, learning choreography and music, and then performing on stage. There are so many more responsibilities for a director! Instead of just worrying about yourself, you have to organize the whole show. Every week, working around actors’ schedules in order to plan out the week is so much harder than one would think! Then, following up everything with microphone lists, prop lists, costume lists…so many lists!” Abby shared.
Maggie Shivers, the second half of the directing duo for James and the Giant Peach Jr., is a senior who has been on the stage even longer than her sister and makes great contributions to set design with her artistic abilities. Last summer Maggie was selected to participate in the iTheatrics Summer Broadway Workshop in New York City. Maggie shared, “I wanted to direct a show before I graduated from high school, and as a senior this was my last chance. I wanted to have the opportunity to lead and work with younger kids in our drama department. I will take the memories and lessons from being in charge of this show, and being able to direct with my sister will give me a great memory as well.”
The Nashville Christian School One-Act Weekend takes place on Saturday, October 1 and Sunday, October 2. On Saturday, Fantastic Mr. Fox will be at 2 pm and 6 pm, and James and the Giant Peach Jr. will be 4 pm and 8 pm. On Sunday, Fantastic Mr. Fox will be at 2 pm and James and the Giant Peach Jr. at 4pm.
Tickets may be reserved by going to: http://www.nashvillechristian.org/fine-arts/one-act-weekend-2016.cfm
At the beginning of April, students from kindergarten through 12th grade put on an amazing production of Mary Poppins! There were more than 60 students involved including many who had never participated in a fine arts performance previously.
NCS Drama teacher, Nicole Arnold said of the production, “This show was particularly special because of the range of students involved and the level of performance demanded of the actors. We had a preschool student all the way through seniors on stage and the kids had to work harder than they have ever worked before. The production team was able to transform the entire MPR into a performing space so that the the audience was surrounded by the cast at several times, in multiple ways. The message of the show concerning the flight of childhood was especially poignant for me as we had such a large group of senior thespians graduating this year.”
Coach Kayce Green has played the role of Mary Poppins and assisted in the production and choreography. She said, “Mary Poppins was such a showcase of the many talents of this school. From the smallest cast member to the oldest, each child went above and beyond their own fears to tell a story that so many know and love. It was a joy to spend time and help create a story that is so personal to me as well. I was astonished at the commitment, the ingenuity and the sheer talent to put on such a massive show full of so many larger than life characters. I was so proud and humbled to watch my daughter Scout get to be part of something so moving. The young men who decided to be part of the show as chimney sweeps, many of whom were stepping onstage for the first time and taking such risks, filled me with such joy every performance. It was a testament to a phrase in one of the title songs, ‘If you reach for the stars, all you get are the stars, but we found a whole new spin. If you reach for the heavens, you get the stars thrown in.’”
The show was so well-received that for two performances, the reserved seating was sold out and for one show they sold out the entire room! If you missed the show, we hope you will join us this weekend for our latest productions, Willy Wonka Jr. and Godspell Jr., both of which are student-directed performances. You won’t want to miss these stellar shows!
If you can imagine Iron Chef for theater, the Junior Theater Festival is it. Throw a director, choreographer, music director and group of kids in a room, give them a musical number to perform and 60 minutes to get ready. Then it's lights, camera, action and an audience of 5,800 people! It was great to see our kids represent Nashville Christian School on that stage! Produced by iTheatrics and sponsored by Music Theatre International (MTI), Disney Theatrical Group, and Playbill®, the Junior Theater Festival is the premiere festival dedicated to young people and musical theater. It was held January 15-17 at the Cobb Galleria in Atlanta, GA, and this year the there were 115 groups from 28 states, Canada, South Korea and Australia.
Each group performs a selection from a Broadway Junior or KIDS Collection musical for professional adjudication by a distinguished panel of international theater professionals. Our experience began a few months before as we prepared our adjudication piece. We took a show we did two years ago, Beauty and the Beast, and cut it down from 1 hour to 15 minutes. Then, in the midst of athletic practices and academic demands, we made time to learn almost all-new choreography and improve our acting skills.
The students who represented NCS in Atlanta were Annmarie Alexander, LeAnna Batson, Tollie Boone, Abby Elmi, Jack Forte, Madison Gupton, Brian Hedden, Joey Hendricks, Sarah Hendricks, Anna Jones, Bailey Knerr, Justin Littrell, Hope McWright, Kassie Perez, Laura Beth Pickard, Celena Randall, Roger Sauls, Abby Shivers, Hendrick Shelton, and Sara Wilson.
Hope McWright and Brian Hedden were selected to attend an invitation only choreography audition by the talent scouts seeking out the next students to film iTheatrics choreography DVD’s for upcoming shows. Additionally, NCS students Kassie Perez and Roger Sauls were named to the Junior Theater Festival All-Stars, made up of outstanding performers attending the festival. The All-Stars performed a song during the closing ceremony for all 5,000+ festival attendees. Also performing on the main stage were the Slam participants who were nominated by their directors, mixed in with all other groups and then drawn at random by the staff. We had two participants in this event, Roger Sauls and Bailey Knerr.
Students came to perform and support other student actors, but a big part of the weekend is the opportunity they have to see, listen to and even meet successful artists. Stage and screen stars Darren Criss (Glee, Hedwig and the Angry Inch), Andrew Keenan-Bolger (Newsies, Tuck Everlasting), Ben Platt (Pitch Perfect, Dear Evan Hansen), were among the talent at the 2016 Junior Theatre. Authors Jodi Piccoult and Mary Pope Osborne who are both working on new musicals were there to share their work, meet the kids and do book signings.
Watching our students strive to become better actors and a stronger ensemble was incredibly rewarding. Before the event was even over they were making plans about how to improve their submission for next year. As we discussed the experience before we headed home, a recurring theme was that those who grew up participating in NCS drama had often spent more time with one another than at home and they discovered that family doesn’t only come through blood. WE are NC.
With so many talented performers in the Kindergarten through 12th grade at NCS, this year’s production of Lion King featured several full casts and multiple performances spread out over two weekends.
Auditions were held last spring, and with so many new students this year, a second round of auditions were held this fall. There was even a “Lion King Experience Camp” offered over the summer for those who really wanted to immerse themselves in this production!
All of the hard work paid off, and our students from all grade levels gave memorable performances. The costuming and makeup was exceptional and really helped bring the story to life. We hope you will enjoy these amazing photos from our fall productions of Lion King!
Stay tuned for information about our spring musical production, Mary Poppins!