When Pittsboro’s Northwood High School Arts students take the stage at the end of March to present the annual spring musical, they are not only continuing a long NHS tradition, but joining thousands of peers across the country for whom the term “spring musical” is, if not redundant, at least, synonymous.
“Opening for A Princess”
This year’s production, Once Upon a Mattress, is the zany re-telling of The Princess and The Pea. Originally created in 1959 as a short one-act work for a summer camp in the Poconos, Once Upon a Mattress was created by composer Mary Rodgers (daughter of Richard Rodgers) and writers Marshall Barer and Jay Thompson. From there, it was revised, expanded and moved to a stage Off-Broadway. En route to Broadway, Once Upon a Mattress was nominated for a Tony as Best Musical of 1960, and made a star of the show’s Princess Winnifred, a young Carol Burnett. She reprised the role on TV in 1964 and 1972. A 1995 Broadway revival featured Sarah Jessica Parker. In 2005 Burnett took on the role of Queen Aggravain with Tracy Ullman as Winnifred in a Disney TV production. Rodgers & Hammerstein consistently lists Once Upon a Mattress as one of their top 5 licensed shows, with more than 300 productions each year.
Northwood’s Director Kayla Sharp has assembled a host of talented young performers for this fairy tale classic. In addition to the spring musical and regular class work, these students are involved in choral and band competitions, spring art shows and dance concerts, individual voice competitions, even auditions for NC School of the Arts. Several have been cast in the upcoming Playmakers Repertory Summer Conservatory production of Bye Bye Birdie. Many are also members of Northwood’s award-winning, Pitch Please, which leaves on April 6 for an exciting trip as featured performers at Carnegie Hall with a cappella groups from across the country in Total Vocal.
Go See This: Once Upon A Mattress, musical theater
Event Host: Northwood High School Arts Education Department
When: 7p.m. on Thursday, Friday, Saturday March 30, 31 & April 1, 2017
Location: Benjamin J. Lee Auditorium, Northwood High School, 310 Northwood High School Road, Pittsboro, NC 27312
Is the event appropriate for children? Yes!
Is the event accessible: Yes
Admission: $8 online at this link and at the door
For more info: March is Theatre in Our Schools Month (and in fact Arts in Our Schools Month—a national celebration of not only school theatre, but music, dance and visual arts as well). Don’t miss this fun show for the whole community. It’s a great way to introduce young children to live theatre, catch up on a classic production you may have heard about but never seen, and support arts education and our public schools.
2017 Cast & Production Team for Once Upon A Mattress:
Conner Lewis (Minstrel)—Connor is a Junior and this is fifth production at Northwood. He was a finalist in last year’s DPAC’s Triangle Rising Star program, for his performance as Robby in The Wedding Singer. He also performed the role of J. Pierpont FInch in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
Edward Austin (Wizard)—Edward is a senior at Northwood High School and has been in four previous productions.
Lena Throne (Princess #12)—Lena Thorne has always loved acting and singing, and is very excited to finally be able to do what she loves.
Kendra Moon (Lady Rowena)—Kendra is a senior at Northwood and this is her sixth production.
Skyler Herrick (Lady Merrill)—Skyler is a junior and has been involved in the Northwood arts department for three years.This is her fifth production at NHS. This summer she will be performing in the Playmakers Summer Conservatory production of Bye Bye Birdie.
Marcus Jackson (Prince Dauntless)—Marcus Jackson has been acting for the past four and a half years. This is his second production at Northwood High School.
Jasmine Wilkie (Queen Aggravain)—This is Jasmine’s second performance at Northwood. She appeared on stage last semester as The Red Queen in Queening Alice.
Savannah Her (Lady Lucille)—Savannah Her is a sophomore at Northwood. This is the fourth production she has been a part of and her second musical.
Grace Lake (Lady Larken)—Grace is a sophomore at Northwood and has been involved with the arts since her freshman year. This is her fourth production with the arts department. Last year, she appeared as Julia in The Wedding Singer.
Joseph Crawford (Sir Studley)—This is Joseph’s second production at Northwood.
Christopher Cotten (King Sextimus)—Christopher Cotten is a senior and this is his second musical. He would like to thank Jeremiah Smith for being an inspiration over the past four years.
Andrew Bonomolo (Jester)—Andrew is a sophomore and this is his third production at Northwood. Last year he appeared as George in The Wedding Singer. He will take on the role of Conrad Birdie in the upcoming Playmakers Summer Conservatory production of Bye, Bye, Birdie.
Jacob Buster (Sir Harry)— This is Jacob’s second year performing in musicals for Northwood High School. He last appeared as Glenn last year in The Wedding Singer.
Brenda Ruto (Princess Winnifred)—Brenda is a Junior and this is her second musical at NHS. You can next see her on stage at Carnegie Hall, when she travels there to perform with her Pitch Please colleagues in about two weeks.
Clara Mellows (Lady Helena)—Clara Mellows is a freshman at Northwood and this is her first production at this school.
Jacob White (Sir Luce)—Jacob is a junior and this is his first production. He is very excited to be performing in the theatre for the first time.
Ruby Pardington (Lady Mabelle)—Ruby is a freshman and enjoys music and drawing. This is her second production at Northwood.
Heather Drake (Nightengale of Samarkand)—Heather has been involved in the performing arts for as long as she can remember. She is a new student at NHS.
Caleb Autry (1st Knight)—This is Caleb’s first musical at Northwood. He has fallen in love with theater and dreams of being in the spotlight someday.
Chase Miller (2nd Knight)—Chase has been singing for his whole life. This is his first year at Northwood, and his first production here.
Christopher Medina (3rd Knight)—Christopher is a sophomore at Northwood. He has been in the arts program for two years.
Alyssa Krasovich (Emily)—Alyssa Krasovich is a freshman at Northwood and this her very first production here.
Sarah Beck, Emmy Robertson, Meredith Avison, Chyna Harris, Kristin Kennihan (Ladies-in-Waiting)
Shannon Patterson, Rachel Stephens, Sara Heilman, Maria Campbell, Delaney Galvin, Jennifer Dowden, Megan Walker, Alexa Simeonsson, Kayla Elliot (Dance Corps)
Northwood High School Faculty Bios for Once Upon A Mattress
Kayla Sharp (Director)— This is Kayla Sharp’s fourth year at Northwood. She is a member of Appalachian Consortium of Theatre Teachers (ACTT) and North Carolina Theatre Arts Educators (NCTAE). She directed her first NHS production, James & the Giant Peach, in November 2013. She has also directed Hairspray, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and The Wedding Singer at NHS.
Todd Lawrence (Technical Director)— Designing sets and costumes and leading the tech crew this year, Todd Lawrence begins his second year at Northwood, teaching Technical Theater. Todd has been working in professional, educational theater and the entertainment industry for over 20 years. He has taught at UNC-Chapel Hill and Virginia Commonwealth University. His secondary teaching credits include The Collegiate School in Richmond, VA, The Bullis School in the DC metro area, West Rowan High School and as the Theater Manager at Carrboro High School. He has worked at theaters such as Stages St. Louis, The Wayside Theatre in Virginia, and The Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, New York. He received his BA from Catawba College and his MFA from UNC-Chapel Hill.
Matthew Hanson (Musical Director)— Now in his fifth year teaching choral music and guitar at Northwood, Matthew is conducting the pit in this year’s production. He graduated in 2012 from UNC-Greensboro where he received both his Bachelor of Music Performance and Bachelor of Music Education degrees. He is faculty advisor for the Tri-M Music Honor Society, music director/arranger for Northwood’s award-winning a cappella group, Pitch Please, and assistant band director for the Marching Chargers.
Brett Cox (Instrumental Director)— Brett Cox is Director of Bands at NHS—the “Marching Chargers,” Symphonic Band, Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, and Jazz Band. He is currently in his third year of teaching. He attended UNC-Chapel Hill where he received a Bachelor of Music degree with a concentration in Music Education. This year he’s playing trombone in the pit. He was the conductor for last year’s The Wedding Singer.
Kristen Oakes (Choreographer)– Kristen Oakes found her love of dance during her time as a student here at Northwood High. Her teacher, Leah Wilhelm, inspired her to follow her heart and pursue a career in dance. Kristen graduated from NHS and attended East Carolina University where she received a bachelor’s degree in Dance Education. This is her fifth year teaching at Northwood.
Leah Wilhelm (Choreographer) This is Leah Wilhelm’s 11th year at Northwood, where she serves as faculty advisor for the National Honor Society for Dance Arts. Previously, she taught dance and art at Eastern Alamance High School in Mebane. She was also a founding member of the Carrboro Dance Company. The 2006 production of Once Upon a Mattress was her first musical at Northwood.
Leslie Burwell (Visual Arts) This is Leslie’s 15th year directing Visual Arts at Northwood. She served for six years as chair of the arts education department. She is a National Board Certified teacher in Art for the young and adult learner. She completed an Action Research Project as member of NC Governor’s Teacher Network in 2015. She was selected as Northwood’s Teacher of the Year and Chatham County Teacher of the year for 2015 and 2016. Both of her children, Rebecca and Daniel, are NHS Alumni.
Meagan Shirlen (Visual Arts, Photography)— Meagan received her MA in Teaching from UNC-Chapel Hill, as well as a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate of Major in Multimedia Arts and Sciences/New Media from UNC–Asheville where she was honored with a Departmental Academic and Leadership Award for Excellence in Creativity. While living in Asheville, she was a photographic contributor to WNC Magazine and worked as a junior designer for Lark Crafts, a craft division of Sterling Publishing. In addition to photography and the multimedia arts, Meagan has studied drawing and art history at UNC-Chapel Hill. See her cast photos this year in Northwood’s lobby.
“In a Little While”
Whether as a regular class or an extracurricular activity, spring musical can be an all-consuming, project-based activity. At NHS it is something of a hybrid. Some classes work on the production, and it is also a collaborative, all-volunteer, extracurricular tradition produced by the entire arts education faculty and open to all students. In addition to actors, students serve as technicians, assistant directors and stage managers, designers, musicians, artists, and costumers.
Depending on the chosen production, students may delve into English literature, Shakespeare, various historical eras and cultures, manners, musical and art styles, or issues of conflict. Theatrical topics may deal with the effects of war, the challenges of progress, or the clashes of different cultures. For example, Jordan Matthews High School (which has in recent years moved their musical production to the fall) presented Fiddler on the Roof in 2016. The production team took the opportunity to schedule a slate of related activities—art exhibits, documentary production, and presentations for both students and the community. They explored Jewish culture and the effects of immigration—comparing and contrasting 19th Century Russia and the US today. In a special Skype session, actors got to speak with their counterparts from the Broadway production of Fiddler.
In Most Valuable Players, a 2010 award-winning documentary about three Pennsylvania high school theatre groups producing their spring musicals and participating in regional competitions as part of the National High School Musical Theatre Awards program, the producers provide this arts statement —“The arts in schools are the perfect way to help apply the more basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic. Interpreting scripts, building sets, making costumes, learning to dance or read music utilize all sorts of classroom skills put to use in a more active and fun application. The arts help keep kids off the streets, create expectations and set goals, offer opportunities of unique expression, build self-esteem, encourage friendships and camaraderie, create extended families and teach valuable life skills and lessons.”
Northwood is one of about 40 area schools that participates in the Triangle Rising Stars (TRS) program sponsored by the Durham Performing Arts Center. They will be sending judges to evaluate one of the performances. Like the Freddy Awards featured in Most Valuable Players, TRS is a regional qualifying event for The National High School Musical Theatre Awards (NHSMTA). Awards include Best Actor and Best Actress, Best Ensemble, and Best Musical. The TRS Best Actress and Best Actor receive $1,000 academic scholarships and are invited to an all-expense paid trip to the NHSMTA program in New York City. Last year Connor Lewis (this year’s Minstrel) was a TRS finalist, and in 2015 Katie Robbins (currently at NC State, and moving to UNCG to major in music next year) participated for her role in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Northwood’s pit was also one of six recognized last year as the best in the area.
“Yesterday I Loved You”
This year’s production of Once Upon a Mattress is actually a “revival” for Northwood. It was previously produced by former NHS drama instructor Dr. Lori Carlin in 2006. [See 2006 photos.] So in addition to seeing young artists just beginning their craft, we can also take a look back at the accomplishments of a talented group of Northwood students a little more than ten years along in their educational and professional lives.
The cast and crew of 2006 have gone on to do themselves, and NHS, proud. Among them we have teachers, actors, business owners, doctors, and non-profit employees. All show casts are special but this one…this one knocked it out of the park!
Allie Gibbs McClarnon (Princess Winnifred) & Tyler McClarnon (Sir Harry)—Allie & Tyler met at North Chatham in 8th grade. Tyler asked Allie to be his girlfriend 24 hours before opening night of Once Upon A Mattress, so he wouldn’t have to introduce her as a friend when his family came to town to see the show. Allie got her bachelor’s degree in Organizational Communication from James Madison University and currently works in student services at The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. Tyler decided to stay local and major in Biology at North Carolina State University (“Go Pack!”). After undergrad, Tyler was accepted to Indiana University School of Optometry and currently practices with MyEyeDr. They married in May 2014 and live in Chapel Hill with their two miniature dachshunds. Almost all of Acting Ensemble came to Allie & Tyler’s wedding, eight years after that class brought the group together.
Chris Minor (Minstrel)—Chris graduated from East Carolina University with a BFA in Acting and a BFA in Musical Theatre. Afterwards he travelled around the country performing in regional theaters, followed by a four-year stint on the Holland America Line as a lead singer. In that time he visited over 30 countries and six continents (including Antarctica). He now resides in NYC where he’s pursuing a career on film and on stage. Chris credits Acting Ensemble with giving him a platform to express and nurture his talents. “Thank you for lifelong friends and a dream to hold on to.” ChristopherCMinor.com
Stephen Shore (Prince Dauntless)—Stephen (NHS ’07) received his BFA from the UNC School of the Arts in 2013. He currently resides in New York and recently completed an educational tour in March with the Texas Shakespeare Festival performing Romeo & Juliet (Tybalt/Paris.) Highlights include: The Rocky Horror Show (Dr. Frank-n-furter) & Million Dollar Quartet (Johnny Cash) at the Roxy Regional Theatre Company–Clarksville, TN; Cymbeline (Cloten) at the Virginia Shakespeare Festival; Taming of the Shrew (Lucentio) with Barefoot Shakespeare Company in NYC’s Central Park; Our Town (Stage Manager) at Heartwood. Regional Theater Company. Upcoming: Into the Woods (Narrator/Mysterious Man) at Heartwood in Damariscotta, ME. “Special thanks to Dr. Lori Carlin, Leslie Burwell, Leah Smith, Gina Harrison and everyone who supported the arts at NHS. I would not be a working artist today without their love and support.” www.StephenTShore.com
Jenna Arthurs Oldham (Lady Larken)—Jenna graduated with top honors from East Carolina University with a degree in dance performance. She has performed pieces choreographed by noted choreographers, such as Mark Haim, Mark Dendy and Bergen Wheeler. Jenna’s own choreography was chosen and featured at the American College Dance Festival. She is the founder and artistic director of 7 Dance Centre in downtown Pittsboro, with an expansion scheduled for summer of 2017.
Andrew Thompson (Wizard)—Andrew has been living in Los Angeles for seven years now and got married last year. He has worked for Christopher Nolan’s production company, Syncopy, for the last six years. Andrew got to travel and work on The Dark Knight Rises and Interstellar and is now an Associate Producer on Dunkirk, a World War II film that comes out in July. He fully credits Acting Ensemble for sparking his interest in film and driving him down his current career path.
Kevin Harrison (Jester)—Kevin attended UNC-Greensboro where he was active in University Band and as a program host on WUAG campus radio for several years. After receiving his degree in Media Studies, he joined Epic Games in Cary where he works in the Paragon game group as a marketing capture specialist.
Jonathan Buss (King Sextimus)—Jonathan studied business management at Appalachian State. He is now an Operations Management Trainee at Penske Truck Rental and Leasing.
Reema Khrais (Princess #12)—Reema Khrais lives in Los Angeles and is a national reporter for the public radio show, Marketplace. After graduating from Northwood, she attended UNC-Chapel Hill, where she majored in electronic communication and learned how to tell stories through audio. Her career in public radio is very much inspired by her creative experiences in the arts at Northwood High School. Since graduating from NHS in 2008, she’s also served as an NPR Kroc Fellow in Washington D.C. and WUNC’s education reporter in North Carolina.
Brian Austin (1st Knight)—Brian studied at UNC-Chapel Hill and is now a consultant at Kaiser Associates, Inc. He is married to Emily Stephenson Austin.
Jack Read (2nd Knight)—Jack spent his time after undergrad serving four consecutive terms of AmeriCorps in Providence, RI and Washington, DC where he currently resides. Last year, he co-founded The Wheel, a theatre company dedicated to telling stories about bringing human beings from all walks of life together. In December 2016, he directed Finegan Kruckemeyer’s magical realist romance At Sea, Staring Up. He is gearing up to direct his own adaptation of Maurice Maeterlinck’s surrealist play, The Blind as part of the Capital Fringe Festival in July 2017. Learn more at www.thewheeltheatre.org
Charlotte Harrison (Nightengale of Samarkand)—After appearing in eight NHS theatre productions, Charlotte spent her senior year attending the high school design program at the UNC School of the Arts. She attended the School of Visual Arts in New York City and received her BFA in graphic and 3D design in 2016. After her senior year there as an intern, she now works as a production assistant at NBC’s Saturday Night Live and as a freelance graphic designer. Charlotte-harrison.squarespace.com
Kara Smith (Wench)—After completing her undergrad in Minnesota and an MS in Anatomy at Tulane School of Medicine in New Orleans, Kara is back in North Carolina in medical school at Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine where she is seeking her D.O. degree.
Erin Gregor (Princess)—Erin graduated from NHS in 2008 and spent her next four years at UNC-Asheville earning a BA in Psychology, minoring in Dance, and dancing on the UNCA Dance Team. In 2014, Erin graduated from Western Carolina University with a MS in Communication Sciences and Disorders and currently works as a Speech-Language Pathologist for the geriatric population. Erin lives in Asheville and enjoys the mountain life with her two pups and fiance. Erin says the time she spent within the arts department at Northwood were some of the best times of her life.
Kristen Norwood Oakes (Principal Dancer)—Her teacher, Leah Wilhelm, inspired her to follow her heart and pursue a career in dance. Kristen graduated from Northwood and attended East Carolina University where she received a bachelor’s degree in Dance Education. This is her fifth year choreographing and teaching at Northwood.
Allie O’Connell (Stage Manager)—Alli O’Connell calls Washington, DC home. It’s an ideal spot for her to explore the world both through her career in international development and her curiosity and passion for artisan enterprises! Alli spends most of her day at GlobalGiving, the largest global crowdfunding community that connects nonprofits, companies and donors throughout the world. At GlobalGiving Alli manages domestic and international grants in partnership with companies like TripAdvisor to support really great work of nonprofits like Range of Motion Project — a non-profit, for-impact healthcare organization dedicated to providing prosthetic and orthotic care to those without access to these services.
Steven Kosiba (Technical Director)—Steven studied Theatre Design and Technology at Bucknell University, where he graduated in 2010. He is now Operations Manager & LD at Squeek Lights in Linden, New Jersey.
Hannah Yerby (Costume Design & Construction; Oboe)—Hannah studied at Johnson & Wales and now lives in Austin, Texas where she is sous chef at Uchiko. The costumes she created in 2006 will once again be featured in the 2017 production.
Katherine Kula Hobbs (Poster & T-shirt Designer)—Katherine is an art teacher and textile artist. She received BFAs in Art and Art Education from Eastern Carolina University in 2011 as well as her Masters in Textile Design in 2014. Katherine’s work has been exhibited in Greenville, Rocky Mount, Kinston, San Antonio, and Washington DC. She currently teaches art at Wayne School of Engineering in Goldsboro, NC. katherinehobbs.weebly.com
Brett Stafford (Key Grip)—Brett studied at Appalachian State, and is now working at Northside District and auditioning for acting roles.
Mike Harriss (Percussion)—Mike attended UNC-Greensboro where he studied percussion, graduated with honors, and received his BM in music education. He currently works in the Genetics Department at UNC and is the percussionist/drummer for Big Time Party Band.
Gretchen Niver Kapity (Designer, Tech Crew)—Gretchen graduated from Northwood in 2007 and attended Western Carolina University where she received a B.S. in Art Education with a concentration in painting in 2010. She married Ben Kapity in 2010 and they continue to live in the mountains in Glenville, NC. This is her fifth year teaching at Summit Charter School.
Lori Major Carlin, PhD (Director)—Lori left the classroom and the stage in June 2013 to become the Public Information Officer and Arts Coordinator for Chatham County Schools. In fall 2016, became a Senior Director of Research for K12 Insight where she works with school districts across the country to engage with communities and support progressive change.
Amy Loch (Musical Director)—After leaving NHS in 2007, Amy and her husband, Jeremy relocated to California. Amy was the Choral Director at Malibu High School from 2008–2016 where she taught choral music to grades 6–12. She taught middle school concert choir, middle school girls select chorus, high school chorale, and the Santa Monica Community College Chamber Singers. Amy was also the music director for the Malibu Middle School and Malibu High School musical productions. In July of 2016 her family relocated to Chicago where Amy is happy to be a stay-at-home mom to her four-year-old daughter, Lia. “Being a part of the musicals at Northwood was so much fun. I am honored to have worked with such amazing students and colleagues while at Northwood.”