A school drama club that started 20 years ago with the intent of involving every student who wanted to participate is having a special reunion following the afternoon performance of their spring musical, “Annie.”
Sand Creek Middle School’s Cast & Crew will be performing the show May 8-9 and celebrating the club’s beginnings in 1994 by having a ceremony for alumni.
Eighth-grader Emily Crist, 13, who has been in the club since fifth grade, said it is great place to make new friends and meet other students she may not generally get to know.
“It kind of groups us together, and you get to know people. They are personalities that may not be something you’re used to, but it’s kind of fun. It’s like food. You want to try new things; you gotta try new foods and new friends,” said Crist.
Director DeLynn Wickham, has been a teacher at the school since 1990 and was involved in the creation of the club. A former music teacher at the school, Jan Haloloran, used to hold cabarets where students would perform. When she left, she asked Wickham to take the reins.
“I said, ‘I can’t write a show.’ I was working on scenery, and we had done two or three cabarets together,” said Wickham.
Since Wickham didn’t want to write shows, she decided to take things in a different direction while maintaining one of the main principles of the club that all kids could participate.
“She (Haloloran) would have students pick songs and do duets or trios. I wanted to do plays,” said Wickham. “I had the same philosophy she had — whoever wants to be on stage can be on stage. We don’t exclude. We always wanted kids to be able to participate.”
In the fall, the Cast & Crew will perform lesser-known off-Broadway shows such as “Give my Regards to Broadway.” The spring performance is always a Broadway hit. Wickham said that this is the fourth time the club has performed “Annie,” but there are only so many shows they can do because they need shows that have a lot of roles so all kids can participate.
Another thing limiting the rotation of shows is that there are only a limited number of shows that are age appropriate.
One of the many things about the club Wickham likes is that students from grades 5-8 participate and compete for different parts.
“All sorts of kids have played the leads. This year, the student playing Annie is fifth-grader,” said Wickham. “It’s important to choose shows that have big choruses so we can give everyone a shot. It’s hard for a child of 10-14 to go out and compete for a part, and even though they don’t get it, they can still participate anyway.”
The club allows students from different grades an opportunity to meet students from every grade in the school who they may not normally associate with because of the age gap.
“One of the things I like is that students in grades five through eight participate together, interact and help each other, and that’s a special thing,” said Wickham.
Crist, the president of Cast & Crew, will be playing the role of Miss Hannigan, the orphanage matron, in the upcoming show. She said the club allows kids to get out of their comfort zone.
“I like that we can be who were not and that we can have fun with it,” said Crist. “We get to interact with people in a way we normally wouldn’t.”
According to Crist, the relaxed way Wickham, assistant teacher Katherine Vigars and the three parent volunteers run the club encourages the students to give their best effort.
“It’s always in the same room, and it’s always so nice and cozy,” she said. “The teachers aren’t ordering you around, but you want to please them so you work hard.”
“Annie” opened on Broadway in 1977 and is based upon the comic strip by Harold Gray, “Little Orphan Annie.” Annie is an orphan who takes up residence with a wealthy man who ends up helping her look for her parents. Crist said it’s a show everyone can enjoy.
“I like that it’s a comedy, but also has a heartfelt family feel,” she said. “It’s put together very well by teachers and instructors. Everyone that volunteered took time out of his or her life to help make this possible.”
Wickham praised the volunteers, saying that without them, it would be impossible to put on shows with as many as 150 students participating.
On Saturday, May 10, between the matinee and the evening shows, there will be a gathering in the Sand Creek cafeteria to visit with former Cast & Crew members and enjoy some cake.
While former Cast & Crew members are always welcome and recognized during intermission, Wickham thought the 20th anniversary should be a little different.
“We just wanted to have members from past shows to come in and visit. Basically, it’s just to get people back together that haven’t been together in a while,” said Wickham.
For ticket information and show times go to www.southcolonieschools.org/SandCreek.