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Sleeping Beauty to be county’s first summer musical

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Summer musical on stage

By Stephen Thomas

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - Bullitt County Public Schools hopes to awaken the sleeping beauties within its students by offering a new theatrical initiative.

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A summer musical version of “Sleeping Beauty” will be presented Thursday through Saturday at the Bullitt Central auditorium by the BCPS Summer Musical Organization.

The musical presents a cast and crew of up to 25 BCPS students representing the three area high schools and four middle schools.

“This is a new initiative by Bullitt County Public Schools to focus on increasing opportunities for those students who are gifted in the areas of fine arts,” said director Adam Elliott.

The countywide gathering of students began with a distributed flier informing students about the summer program opportunity.

“We sent the fliers to high school and middle schools,” said Elliott, who directs North Bullitt’s drama club. “We asked for anyone who considered themselves gifted, including choir, chorus, drama students, anyone showing talent.”

From there two auditions were scheduled in May, with a dozen or so students at each trying out for the program.

“They performed a prepared song, they did a cold read and some song choreography,” Elliott said. “Trying to audition around their summer schedules, we lost a few of them to that.”

Students representing Bullitt Central, Bullitt East and North Bullitt High School, as well as Bullitt Lick, Eastside, Hebron and Mount Washington Middle School then began the rehearsal process in June.

According to Elliott, rehearsals went from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. for a total of 16 days.

“It’s like an intensive camp,” he said. “Usually during school you only get an hour or so three days a week.”

Because of the available talent, the idea for a play became more musical theatre.

“This was a way to showcase our gifted and talented students and the arts” said BCPS  gifted/talented coordinator Sarah Coomer. “It’s a way to get them more experience.”

Along with performance, Coomer mentioned many other opportunities presented by the musical, such as visual arts and leadership skills.

“They’re doing things behind the scenes, they’re drawing sets, and they have a lot more time and opportunity to work on their own with things.”

The adult production team includes choreographer Caitlin Clemons, vocal coach Vikki Cook and orchestra director Julie Werkmeister McKay, a Hebron Middle instructor who assisted with school productions including “Grease: The Musical.”

Elliott also credited Bullitt Central drama instructor Kevin Gose for assistance with the school auditorium technical production.

“I hope I have the chance to work with them and other performance arts teachers in the county in the future,” Elliott said.

The musical, written by David Kisor and Joseph McDonough, courtesy of Playscripts Inc., is a twist on the traditional Sleeping Beauty story, with music, comedy, and a few cultural updates, such as a prince brandishing a Fender guitar.

Rachel Peak performs as Wisteria, the Bad Fairy. The Bullitt East graduate will soon begin at the University of Louisville as a theatre major specialist.

According to Peak, time with the school band kept her out of drama performance until she participated in advanced drama during senior year.

“My homeroom teacher gave me the flier,” she said. “I almost didn’t do it due to the (summer) time constraints.”

Peak said one of the benefits of the musical was working with a variety of students from different schools and performing in front of total strangers throughout the county.

North Bullitt graduate Bridgette McAuliffe was one of two students to participate in Drama Club with Elliott for four years. She plays Lilac, one of the three Good Fairies.

“(Elliott) told me about the production,” McAuliffe said. “Our school did not have musicals, so this gives me some experience.”

The other Good Fairies, Marigold and Daisy, were played respectively by Kyra Blevins and Alex Sullivan, both Hebron graduates preparing to start at North Bullitt.

“In elementary and middle school I had a tough time,” Blevins admitted. “I liked to act and sing. This allows me to show a talent that others didn’t know I had.”

Sullivan fell in love with the musical genre as part of the “Grease” cast at Hebron.

“I tried drama but was not as good,” she said. “The musical really struck my attention. With ‘Grease’ I found out how great it was.”

Sullivan praised the summer program as an opportunity for herself and others to develop a greater talent.

Kalie Hahn, a Bullitt East senior, agreed that a musical allowed students to expand their artistic talents. Hahn performs in the musical as Falcon.

“The musical is good, it’s what drew me here,” she said.

Hahn agreed that the summer BCPS program allowed students a chance to make new like-minded friends during the process, along with growing in personal confidence.

“You really come out of your shell,” she said.

“Sleeping Beauty” features Abigail Hardy as Briar Rose, Trystan Bright-Hadley as Prince WIlliam and Prince Edward, Marlene Michel as Queen Olivia and Daniel Watts as King Stefan, with Cole Laslie as the Wizard and both Sydney Johnson and Christina Sullivan as the Dragon.

Ensemble performers include Haylie Delk, Matt Inman, Madison Pierce, Savannah Pierce, Andy Rogers and Tucker Shuff.

McKay performs music with assistance from students Amber Rutledge on keyboards, Cameron Keehn on guitar and Noah Newhouse on drums.

Set design and construction was handled by Hannah Leffew, Sarah Durr and Zach Durr.

Lucas Rogers serves as assistant stage manager, with a crew including Zach Rogers, Bridgett Thomas and Kyle Warden.

“Sleeping Beauty” will be presented Thursday, Jul. 19, through Saturday, Jul. 21, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5, with proceeds benefiting the Summer Musical Organization.