Top News

Exploits Valley High students set to perform musical for first time in over 10 years

Cast members of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” strike a pose before rehearsing for their upcoming shows.
Cast members of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” strike a pose before rehearsing for their upcoming shows. - Submitted

Part of the community

GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, NL – For the first time in over a decade, Exploits Valley High students will take to the stage in a musical production at the Gordon Pinsent Centre for the Arts.

The show is titled “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” and will take place March 2 and 3.

“The play is pretty much right there in the title,” said co-director Scott Simms. “It is about a spelling bee. These kids are competing to try and win and go to the nationals, and it's uproariously funny.
“But at the same time, all of these kids have issues they're bringing with them and they need to win for different reasons. … it's done so over the top, with so much joy and with so much emotion, that everyone in the audience will fall in love with all of these kids.”

Simms shares the director’s role with Dawn Oldford, who also serves as the play’s musical director.
“We're both wearing a whole lot of hats here,” joked Simms.

The production, however, isn't without its challenges.

“We researched and picked a script that we thought would work for us,” Simms said. “It's a small-cast show – we didn't want to do anything too big because we've been away from this for a decade and we wanted to start small and build up. It's still a massive musical. The musical numbers are incredibly hard, but it's very focused.”

Alex Woolfrey, a Grade 12 student and cast member who plays a contestant named Chip Tolentino, described the process of getting to know his fellow cast mates.

“We've gotten more comfortable with our lines and our singing,” Woolfrey said. “And every single rehearsal you can feel that energy building since it's (the show) two weeks away now.
“At the start we weren't really comfortable with each other as individuals, but now it's more like a fun environment where you just go and have a laugh and practice and get ready.
“It's going to be a lot of fun.”

It has been over 10 years since Exploits Valley High students have performed a musical at the Gordon Pinsent Centre for the Arts.
Woolfrey is excited to help change that.

“Just to be the original group that hopefully brings back serious drama into the school for however many years – that's a cool thought,” Woolfrey said. “Drama is a great way to make friends and a great outlet in life, I think.”

Simms hopes the production helps push his school and community forward, and while co-directing a complex musical is big step for all involved, it isn't the end goal.

“Positive identity in the school is incredibly important, that's what we're striving for,” Simms said. “We want something the kids can be proud of, they can have a poster on their wall for years to come, something they can remember and tell stories about.
“We want Exploits Valley High to be known as a dramatic school. We want it to be known as a school that supports the arts and is a school that's involved.”

Simms said local businesses have been incredibly supportive, and he wants the show to be a community project.

“With the help of everyone at the Gordon Pinsent Centre for the Arts, we want this to be an absolute community venture,” he said. “We want this to be something that Grand Falls-Windsor can be proud of, as well as the students, as well as the school.”

The arts centre’s manager shares a similar sentiment and welcomes community-based events at the centre.

“That's what we're all about,” said Sean Cooper. “This centre was built for the people of central Newfoundland to use and to be part of.
“Having a musical … here is great. It's what we need in the centre, and we need people to come out and support it.”

The drama club will also be selling tickets on a poster signed by the original cast of Broadway musical “Come From Away,” provided by actress Petrina Bromley. Tickets are $2 or three for $5 and may be purchased on both nights.
Tickets for the show are available at the centre box office for $20.

Recent Stories