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West Jordan Journal

Tales of teens is this month’s theatrical theme

Nov 03, 2022 08:06PM ● By Jet Burnham

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

The highs and lows of adolescence is the unofficial theme for the theatrical productions local middle and high schools are performing this month. These shows feature stubborn and determined teens and tweens forging their own paths, rebelling and falling in love. Each show will remind audiences of the fun and the heartache of those developmental years.

The spunky tween

“Annie Jr” will play at Joel P. Jensen Middle School Nov. 18, 19 and 21 at 6 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for children 11 and younger, and free for JPJMS students and faculty (with a current school ID).

Joel P. Jensen Middle School students will tell the story of Annie, the spunky tween determined to find her parents. She embarks on a life-changing journey which begins in an orphanage and ends in a mansion. Her big personality and unfailing optimism, which shine through with powerful songs such as “Tomorrow,” will remind audiences of the stubborn optimism of youth.

The rebellious teen

“Footloose” will play at West Jordan High School Nov. 17, 18, 19 and 21 at 7 p.m. and at 2 p.m. on Nov 19. Tickets are $10 on the school website or at the door. No cash.

The hero of “Footloose” is Ren McCormack, the classic archetype of the misunderstood teen. Stuck in a town where dancing is illegal, Ren is desperate to break down barriers, break through stereotypes and to break-dance. He rallies the town’s teenagers to his cause, and they challenge the motives of the local parents, school board members and church pastor.

“The show's message is forgiveness and moving on from tragedy. It also highlights change for the good of all,” said West Jordan theater teacher Tony Akin, the show’s director.

Audiences will be dancing in their seats with the show’s high energy pop songs such as “Footloose” and “Let’s Hear it for the Boy.”

“I think the audiences will be impressed with the talent we have here at West Jordan High School,” Akin said. “The voices are strong and audiences are sure to be entertained.”

The adolescent dreamer

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” will play at Copper Hills High School Nov. 10, 11, 12 and 14 at 7 p.m. Tickets are available on the school website. Adults $9, students $8, seniors/veterans/military $7.

Copper Hills High School students will tell the magical tale of a young girl who gets the chance of a lifetime to escape her miserable homelife and make all her dreams come true. It’s a story that will resonate with audiences of all ages, said CHHS theater teacher Jordan Morrell.

“The magic of fairy tales has been enchanting children and adults from the beginning of time. It brings us back in touch with our childhood, our dreams, wishes and hopes,” he said. “When we are young, we truly believe anything is possible and within our reach. The magic of this story, I hope, will reawaken that feeling for all members of our audience.”

Morell is excited to be directing “Cinderella” because it is one of his favorite musicals.

“All the best musicals have a great story to be told, with interesting characters, dynamic relationships, memorable songs and delightful choreography,” he said. “‘Cinderella’ encompasses all that makes a great musical.”

The melodramatic minors

“Romeo & Juliet Together (& Alive) at Last” will play at West Jordan Middle School Dec. 1, 2 and 3 at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the door. $5 for general admission, $3 for students.

Teen love rarely lasts, but most still believe in the happy ending. The most famous teenage love story, “The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet,” gets a chance at a new (and comedic) ending in West Jordan Middle School’s production of “Romeo & Juliet Together (& Alive) At Last,” written by Sandra Fenichel Asher.

It is the story of a group of teenagers who decide to help two friends who “like” each other but are too shy to talk to each other. They decide to put on the play of “Romeo and Juliet” and cast the awkward teens in the romantic lead roles in order to push their relationship to the next level. Their production goes awry, but will love prevail?

All 39 cast members are eighth and ninth graders in Gwen Wood’s theater production class who are playing middle school-aged characters.

“It's really fun and interesting to see what they do when I tell them to act like a middle school student,” Wood said. “You get a lot of insight into how they think middle schoolers behave and what they are like. It is very much like seeing our school through their eyes, which I think has been an awesome insight.”

Wood said the show is full of situational humor, witty lines, slapstick physical comedy and funny characters. It takes place in modern times with flashbacks to the Shakespearean time period.

“It’s fun to have a love story in one era and then a love story in another era and then compare and contrast them, because they’re very different, but at the same time they're still love stories between young people,” cast member Autumn LeBaron said.

Students studied Shakespeare’s play in preparation for the show and said the behavior of Romeo and Juliet is nothing like modern teen relationships.

“Usually 14-year-olds don’t meet a guy and then marry them the next day and then die,” said eighth grader Miles McCafferty, who plays Romeo. “It’s quite a story.”