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Student, teacher collaboration leads to musical production

After vocal music teacher Janice Gilbert could not find a musical she liked when doing the research a year ago, she and now senior Coleman Peterson wrote a song about puberty last school year.

While the pair had written a theme song for a possible musical, neither really became serious about it until this school year when Gilbert still could not narrow down a musical. She set a deadline of Feb. 1 to get a musical written before picking one if they could not get it done.

“I didn’t think there was anyway we could get it done. He was really serious about it,” Gilbert said.

Feb. 1 came and Peterson asked for a week’s extension to finish it up.

“We had never really planned to use it for our actual high school musical, but that’s the way it worked out,” Peterson said. “We’d looked at musicals, but nothing really fit.”

“It all kind of started as a joke and we ended up sketching it out on sticky notes all over my classroom wall and that was to map it out,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert credits Peterson with much of the work. The two came up with the four main characters together. The other characters Peterson came up with, Gilbert said.

Peterson said they wanted as many lead characters as possible with mini plots intertwined at different times. The two main girl characters are Jessie and Harper. Jessie is a popular girl who gets a zit and tries everything to get rid of it but ends up breaking out. Harper is a likeable nerdy girl who has a crush on a boy. They close act one with a song Gilbert wrote called “Breaking Out.”

The two main boy characters are No-Grow Joe, who has not gone through puberty yet and feels like everyone else has. Patrick is a boy whose voice is changing. He was a three-time elementary honor choir participant that cannot hit a high A anymore so No-Grow Joe has to fill in on that note when Patrick has to perform at a dance.

Peterson said it was surprisingly not that difficult to write songs and put them to music. He realized if he had a moment in the script where he knew a song should be and an idea of what the song should be, he could plunk it out on a piano or use high music writing software to make a melody.

Neither have done a project like this before, but Peterson has thought about writing a musical for a while. He said it has been fun to work with his teacher on the production.

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