“Oklahoma,” 2007

The First Church tradition of a children’s musical goes back over a century and now is a beloved part of the children’s 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 solo and lead roles, however these productions are all inclusive. Everyone who wants to participate will be given a part!

The upcoming musical for Nov 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th is The Gondoliers, by Gilbert and Sullivan. This wonderful show tells the story of two handsome gondoliers in Venice, Marco and Giuseppe, who get married after finding their brides in a game of blind man’s buff. Then in comes a grand procession of the Duke and Duchess of Plaza Toro, their daughter Casilda, and their entourage, consisting of just “His Grace’s own private drum, Luiz.” To everyone’s surprise, it is discovered that one of the gondoliers in in fact heir to the throne of the kingdom of Barataria, and in infancy was wed to Casilda. The only problem is, no one knows which of the two young men is in fact a gondolier, and which is now a king. They solve the problem by deciding to all travel to Barataria, to rule the kingdom together.

Rehearsals for the musical will begin on Monday, September 11th, at 6:30pm for Kindergarten through 4th Grade, and at 7:00pm for 5th Grade and up. Even if you are not sure if you will join, feel free to stop by and join the first rehearsal! Tryouts for lead roles will be on Wednesday the 13th and Thursday the 14th, at either 4:00 or 5:00pm. For the younger children, rehearsals will be every Sunday afternoon and Monday evening. For the older children and youth, rehearsals are every Sunday and Thursday afternoon, and Monday evenings. Once the musical is over, all of the cast members then participate in the children’s choirs for the remainder of the year, with rehearsals every Monday evening.

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 225-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, Assistant Music Director Simon Andrews, a professional choreographer, and a team of First Church volunteers.