Willy Wonka Jr. VS Alice in Wonderland Jr.

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August 14, 2013
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Hello! I am a Drama Club Advisor of an elementary school in NJ. I am so torn over which show to choose, so if anyone out there is willing to advise me, here is what you may need to know to form an opinion:* My Drama Club is only made up of 5th and 6th graders. Enrollment is generally between 80-90 students. Last year's production had a total of 92 kids.* The program is rapidly growing, and since our first Jr. musical five years ago, the quality has improved, the interest has grown, and we are now very "noticed" by administrators. The pinnacle of what we have accomplished was last year's production of The Little Mermaid, Jr. I want to live up to that pressure.* I always hated when teachers or directors chose a show with a certain person in mind for a certain role, but I can't hide the fact that I have an incoming 6th grader who is PHENOMENAL. When I say she will most likely sing on Broadway one day, I mean it sincerely. She was my Ariel last year, and I would love to feature her, as this will be her last year in my Drama Club.* Finally, my participation from the boys is always unknown. Over the past two years, I was able to do Seuss Jr. and Mermaid Jr. so successfully because of the boys I had for male leads. I may get a good number of boys this year, but I'm not quite sure about the amount of boys who will be able to carry a show or even successfully do a lead role.ANY help, advice, opinions, information you can give me would be so very much appreciated. Thank you in advance! :)
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August 14, 2013
HI Maleesa! Kudos on being part of a growing 5/6 drama program in an elementary school! This is where it all begins: laying the groundwork for the craft of musical theater as well as instilling the love with this age kids for the rest of their lives. You have told me several things: first of all, your kids are capable at this level of some musically challenging shows as LMJR and Seussical JR. You have large and growing numbers, SO IMPORTANT at this level, and you are aware that recruiting boys is key. I encourage you to program some of the classic shows after the 2 you have just done Maleesa. The classic music, the cross disciplinary connections (especially historically) that tie in with "the essential question" are key to connect elementary/middle curriculums. Order a perusal of Thoroughly Modern Millie JR,(strong female lead, expandable cast), Once on this Island JR, (another strong lead and expandable cast, sung through as Seussical JR), and even look at Music Man JR, (a Harold Hill may walk through your door) and Guys and Dolls JR, girls make great gamblers as well. Mulan JR is a challenging show with a strong girl lead, but needs boys in the ensemble. Dear Edwina JR is great for heavy girl casts, easy to produce and the most quintessential middle school aged show going. Lastly, consider having an hour long after school musical theater activity with food, theater games, a song, prizes for "bringing a friend" etc. Boys will come just to hang out with a friend and find they have fun without stereotyping themselves by "signing up for an audition".