Students Share 'Disney Musicals in Schools' at The Smith Center

Posted on Thursday, April 7, 2016

It’s not easy performing at The Smith Center. It takes guts, talent, teamwork, dedication and discipline. But on April 4th, students from six elementary schools in Clark County showed an enthusiastic audience in Reynolds Hall that they had all those qualities and more, performing in the Disney Musicals in Schools Student Share Celebration.

This was the third year for Disney Musicals in Schools at The Smith Center. The Smith Center was selected as the second organization outside of New York to implement this outreach initiative, which couples local professional teaching artists from The Smith Center with Clark County School District educators from high-needs schools in an extraordinary process of presenting a Disney musical. Each year, The Smith Center selects six schools from a pool of applicants to receive the program. Disney provides each school a free performance license, show kit materials for the Disney musical of their choice, and on-site support for 17 weeks.

The six elementary schools chosen for their first Disney musical this year were Mountain View, Pat A. Diskin, Doris Reed, Ruben P. Diaz, Hal Smith and E.W. Griffith. Students from those schools rehearsed, learned lines, developed language skills, learned about creating a goal, and grew to understand different people and ideas. As one teacher from Hal Smith Elementary noted, “It brought our school together.” Teachers volunteered their time and worked with the teaching artists to rehearse the students, design the costumes and build the sets.

While each group of students performed the full show at their respective schools, one number from each musical was selected for performance at The Smith Center: “Jungle Prologue” (The Jungle Book) – Mountain View ES; “One By One” (The Lion King) – Pat A. Diskin ES; “Bare Necessities” (The Jungle Book) – Doris Reed ES; “Just Can’t Wait To Be King” (The Lion King) – Ruben P. Diaz ES; “Friend Like Me” (Aladdin) – Hal Smith ES; and “Winnie The Pooh (Winnie The Pooh) – E.W. Griffith ES.

Former Disney Broadway star (and Las Vegas headliner) Josh Strickland served as host of the show, not only communicating the enthusiasm of the Disney Musicals in Schools Program, but encouraging the student performers both before and after each performance.

It was a night of entertainment to remember and it was a night that reflected a semester of learning. But it was more than that. Myron G. Martin, president and CEO of The Smith Center said it best that night: “The teachers tell us there are amazing things happening. There’s improvement in classroom behavior, literacy skills are improving, kids are learning to cooperate and work with other kids in their classroom in a wonderful way, and maybe most importantly, there’s a greater sense of self-esteem.”

It’s “A Whole New World” when children learn the value of collaboration and hard work. That whole new world was on stage April 4th!

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