This year’s Pembroke Middle School Musical, Chicago, was a triumph with many old scholars involved in the production. From hair and makeup, to vocal direction and set design, our old scholars provided their expertise to help the students put on a stunning show. Vocal director Millicent Sarre (2012) and choreographer Georgina Harris (2011) reminisce on their Middle School Musical experiences.
Millicent Sarre (2012)
If ever I’m asked about the highlight of my high school experience, I never hesitate to respond: my Middle School musical.
In 2010, I played the role of Millie in the Pembroke Middle School Musical Thoroughly Modern Millie. Although I had to put up with being referred to as ‘Millie’ (a nickname that this Millicent has never liked), I was over the moon to play this incredible role. The 1920s costumes were glorious. The dialogue was adorably kitsch. And the music was incredible, easily the most challenging and rewarding sing that 16-year-old me had ever taken on. It was bliss.
The role was for a singer-tapper. Fortunately, I could sing. Unfortunately, I could not tap. I had six months to learn, and in the end I wasn’t completely terrible. The show was full of huge learning curves like this one, but it impacted my development profoundly. I’m certain that the immense challenge and reward of the experience contributed to my drive to ultimately forge a career in the Arts.
Some memories stand out. That one big note in my final song that I would always stress about. The stage kisses that became longer as the season progressed. The moment of panic before the big tap breaks. The pharmacy of multi-vitamins I consumed in production week. The joy of nailing a scene, or a song, or a costume change. And the new friendships I forged along the way. I look back on this time with absolute fondness and nostalgia.
It’s a beautiful, full-circle moment to help create these same memories for the next generation of Pembroke kids. To be present when they first nail a harmony, or hear the orchestra play the show’s iconic motifs, or hear their voices do something they have not done before is priceless. Sharing the experience with Sharon has been particularly meaningful. She directed me as my teacher 10 years ago; I now work alongside her as a friend.
I’m so grateful to have been involved in this production, and so proud of these brilliant kids. Smash it, team. And sing your harmonies. Please.
Georgina Harris (2011)
I look back to the time of my Middle School Musical Cabaret in 2008, with such fond memories. I’ve grown up dancing, singing and performing since I was a little girl and I can remember how much I loved seeing my school friends for the first time step into the world of theatre that I loved and knew so well. There were lots of giggles at rehearsals, time going over the show with friends at lunch and the wonderful joy of us all performing on stage together — it truly was a highlight of my schooling at Pembroke!
Now I can’t help but feel the same way in the role of choreographer for the show. As a dance teacher I’ve always loved watching the way students bring their passion to the stage, but there’s something special about watching a group of kids that aren’t necessarily familiar with the stage (some of them probably never having performed in their life), discover the magical world of music, dance and theatre. It makes me so happy to see the students dancing, laughing, loving this show and creating memories they’ll treasure years from now. It’s been beautiful to watch this talented cohort journey nervously from auditions, through hours of rehearsals over the last few months, improving each and every week, to now seeing them wow us on the big stage.
It was a joy to be involved in the 2018 show Rock of Ages and similarly this year has been nothing short of amazing. Chicago is such a classic Broadway show, loved by many and I feel so privileged to help the students bring their musical to life this year with a little bit of dance and a whole lot of jazz hands!