The First Church tradition of a children’s musical goes back over a century and now is a beloved part of the Children’s and Youth music program. Starting in 1980, Alfa Radford made this an annual tradition, allowing all choristers (Grades K-12) the opportunity to participate in a fully-staged musical production. To date, there have been 37 musicals performed, ranging from Gilbert and Sullivan operettas to Broadway shows. The popularity of these shows is reflected in the number of choristers involved; as many as 120 youngsters have participated in a single year! Even the youngest children have their own lines which they speak and sing onstage to hundreds of enthusiastic audience members. Choristers in Grades 5-12 are encouraged to audition for “lead” roles. In these productions, however, everyone is given a part. It takes about 8 weeks to mount the production, with rehearsals beginning in mid-September and culminating in four mid-November performances.
The upcoming musical for Nov 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th is The Gondoliers, by Gilbert and Sullivan. For a complete history of musicals performed at First Church, click here.
The annual musical was also taken into consideration during the design for the most recent expansion of the church that was completed in 2004. A large-scale, air-conditioned Parish Hall was added that includes a full stage with curtains, ample backstage areas, and adequate space for a 250-person audience. A balcony in this auditorium allows for state-of-the-art sound and lighting. Performers are accompanied by a Steinway concert grand during rehearsals and a small orchestra is added for the dress rehearsals and final four performances. An attic space in the addition houses the enormous costume collection that has accumulated over the years.
Ian Garvie directs and produces the musical with the invaluable help of Production Assistant and Costumer Sandy Nayak, a professional choreographer, and a team of First Church volunteers.