6.3 C
Niagara Falls
Saturday, April 20, 2024
Arts: Whole school plays a role in annual Laura Secord musical
Students Ayla Jamal and Jack Jones share the stage in Laura Secord's production of 9 to 5. The final performances are set for 7 p.m. on Feb. 29 and March 1 and 2. SUPPLIED

Lucy Hopkins
Special to Niagara Now/The Lake Report

Students at Laura Secord Secondary School are working 9 to 5 — or more — to prepare for their annual musical.

This year, the school is putting on “9 to 5,” a musical set in 1979, with music and lyrics written by Dolly Parton and inspired by the 1980 movie she starred in.

The story focuses on three women working in an office, who bond over their dislike of the toxic work environment and sexist boss.

It’s a whole school affair, and there’s a role for just about every student — even if it’s not acting and singing.

Catherine Dubois, a Grade 11 student from Niagara-on-the-Lake, plays a leading role as Violet Newstead in the upcoming production.

“Everyone who is in (the musicals) have or has had a serious passion, and I think our teachers understand how important that is,” Dubois told The Lake Report.

“We have good willingness from everyone, because we all care so much.”

The District of Niagara Academy for the Arts (or the DNA Arts) program allows arts students to express their passion and creativity while showing commitment and concentration for their chosen art.

Dubois credits the program’s success to committed teachers and a truly passionate group of students.

Even students who are not acting play a crucial part in the musical with their different skills.

Dubois says many different departments come together to help with different aspects of the show. 

“I’d say at least 90 per cent of the school has contributed in some way, like our technology design class — they helped build the set,” Dubois says.

“Although some of them may not even know how to hum a tune, they all realize how important the show is and realize that it is about pulling together.” 

Owen Bungard, a Grade 11 student at Laura Secord, is involved in this year’s production as an assistant stage manager backstage. 

In 2022, Laura Secord put on a production of “Mamma Mia,” and Bungard remembers being inspired by a hard-working backstage crew. 

“People encouraged me to be a part of performing but I was like, nuh-uh, not for me,” he recalls.

“Seeing people like stage managers and crew running around and doing stuff, I was like — that. I want to do that”.

Owen says he is happy there are multiple opportunities at Laura Secord, not just singing, dancing and acting.

Other than performing in the musical, Laura Secord has programs and clubs including band, set design, sound, lighting, set construction, backstage crew, costume crew, hair and makeup and even front of house workers. 

Pursuing at least one of these opportunities are typically required of a DNA Arts student, and give opportunity for students to gain experience in their chosen field.

Ayla Jamal, a Grade 12 student from NOTL, is enrolled in the musical theatre stream of this program and recalls why she chose to go to Laura Secord Secondary School. 

“I wanted to pursue the arts and musical theatre and this seemed like the place to do it,” Jamal says.

“The DNA Arts program has let me see some real world experiences if I wanted to pursue a career in this field.”

Exploring opportunities to perform at Laura Secord led Jamal to get the role of Dolly Parton’s character in the upcoming musical, as Dorallee Rhodes. 

Jamal says she is grateful for the learning opportunities that have set her up for this performance and role. 

“Through my four years here, I have had to take many different classes, I’ve enjoyed them all of course, like drama, musical theatre and vocals,” she recalls.

“Through learning and gaining these skills in class, I am able to transfer them over to the show.”

Jamal is one of many students that believes the DNA Arts program has led to a greater passion in the theatre students at the school, and is part of what makes the musicals so grand. 

“I think our musicals are very large scale and we like to make it a whole school event, even if you’re not involved in the process, you see it around the whole school, it’s everywhere, it’s in your everyday life, and it’s really a spectacle,” she says, commenting on the community that forms around these performances.

If you want to see this tight-knit school community come together to show their passion on stage, final performances are set for 7 p.m. on Feb. 29 and March 1 and 2.

Tickets can be purchased online at laurasecord.dsbn.org.

Subscribe to our mailing list