Entertainment

End of a musical era at Moody

A total of 82 students at Moody middle school are in next month’s school production, titled Playback!, including (left to right) Pink Lady Erika Bodnarivic, Godmother Sara Stone, hippies Carol Zhang and Kyle Morrison, bunny Hakkem Swinney, pirate Kristyn Chan and flapper Megan Odenwald.  - JANIS WARREN/THE TRI-CITY NEWS
A total of 82 students at Moody middle school are in next month’s school production, titled Playback!, including (left to right) Pink Lady Erika Bodnarivic, Godmother Sara Stone, hippies Carol Zhang and Kyle Morrison, bunny Hakkem Swinney, pirate Kristyn Chan and flapper Megan Odenwald.
— image credit: JANIS WARREN/THE TRI-CITY NEWS

Moody middle will hit the rewind button next month to mark 15 years of musical theatre at the Port Moody school.

Staff and students want to celebrate Moody’s theatrical past by reliving its productions since 1999 — 11 titles in all.

It’s not been an easy feat, confesses drama teacher Jane Ono, the director, producer and co-choreographer of Playback!

But the tribute is needed as the school will lose some two-thirds of its population by the next academic year.

Come September, 525 out of 750 Moody students in Grade 6 to 8 will flock to the new Eagle Mountain middle in Anmore.

And Moody itself will reinvent into a French immersion and fine arts institution.

“We thought it was important to have a lookback and showcase the history of the school before the transition,” Ono said.

The “Best of Moody” has been the theme throughout the year and a number of special farewell events — including the annual spring musical — are in the works, principal Nancy Bennett said.

For April 8 to 11, when Playback! will run, the community will be invited to tour the campus and view displays in the hallways.

Any of the 1,075 past cast members who attend will be honoured with a special button.

Ono, who has overseen and watched every musical theatre show since 1999, said she looks forward to be reunited with Moody alumni — some of whom have continued with theatre after Grade 12. Ono cites triple threat Natasha Kozak (a recent grad of the Sheridan Musical Theatre Program) and Kim Bunka (founder of Undiscovered Theatre) as successes of Moody’s theatre program.

Bunka, who is now working for Disney Cruise Lines, said the course with Ono helped her make connections and gain confidence. “I was quite shy and introverted wso doing the shows gave me a chance to make friends and do what I love at school,” she said by email last week. “Mrs. Ono gives so many children the chance to do something they might not otherwise get to do. It’s a really special thing.”

Ono, who also teaches math, science and stagecraft, said she has seen many students blossom under the limelight. “They put on a costume and they get to pretend. Teachers and parents don’t recognize them because they become a different person.”

Stagecraft, too, allows students to pick up tools and figure out if trades is their career route.

With Playback!, she has 15 students in the tech crew plus another 82 actors, all of whom require eight to 10 costume changes over the course of the production.

In two very cramped closets, Ono has kept — and carefully inventoried — all the show costumes and sets since 1999, of which she and parents stitched for the 11 musical numbers: Pirates of Penzance, Lagooned, Groovy, Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, Flapper, Oliver, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Twinderella, Lady Pirate of Captain Bree and Grease (Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland and Grease were repeated).

Ono said Playback! has become so intensive that the cast needed a rehearsal just to practice changing costumes in time for the next act.

As well, Ono recruited four assistant directors (teachers Chris Magnusson, Shelley Egelstad, Maria Christina Fantini-Wells and Sara Keeler) and brought in two student helpers from Heritage Woods secondary (Kyla Currie and Sarah Mueckel).

Moody sudents have also had to learn the 28 musical numbers and dance steps for the four public presentations and one private event for the elementary feeder schools. “The students have had a great exposure to the arts and we’re going to show it,” Ono said.

Playback! runs April 8 to 11 at 7 p.m. at Moody middle (3115 St. John’s St., Port Moody). Tickets for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are $8/4. The  finale gala on Friday is $20/$10. Call 604-461-7384 for information.

jwarren@tricitynews.com

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