DISD Choral Music Department to perform White Christmas

(L-R) Darian Nelson as Betty, Lauren Collins as Martha and Taylia Terrell as Judy work on choreography. Photo provided.

By Joey McWilliams

DURANT – Fall is the season for musical theatre at Durant High School and choral music department is once again putting in long hours for the annual performance.

This year, the production will be White Christmas.

The program’s run will be Thursday, Nov. 16, through Sunday, Nov. 19. Shows will be at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Deborah Clements, the choral music director for DHS, said the group consisting of high school students and middle school students is still in the middle of blocking and choreography and musical rehearsals, but is excited.

It’s a classic,” Clements said. “It has been in the back of my head for about three years. It’s one of my favorites, ever since I’ve been a child watching the movie version with my family. Since I was small, it’s held a very special place in my heart during Christmastime.

Dancers work on choreography. Staff photo.

“We have the leads to do it this year. You have to have three strong female and three strong male leads and we have that and just thought it was the right year to step in and do it.

“Sometimes we alternate between modern and classic musicals. We don’t always, though. We did Mary Poppins last year and that is a classic, too. We didn’t this year, apparently, but this one is older than Mary Poppins, though.”

Clements is assisted by co-director Aprill Raines and choreographer Jodi McWilliams. There are also new roles this year, including student director (Hannah J. McDonald), student musical director (Chloe Cagle) and student choreographers.

McDonald has the opportunity be the student director for two DHS productions. Along with White Christmas, she has had her directing debut with the drama department’s presentation of “Red vs. the Wolf.”

“I’m anxious to see how God uses these opportunities for His glory,” McDonald said.

And Clements is using more resources on the musical side of the preparation.

“Chloe is an outstanding musician,” Clements said. “When I need something like vocal parts for White Christmas recorded, Chloe goes home and records the parts and uploads them to Google Drive and sends them to all the students and that’s been a tremendous help.”

“I am SO excited and grateful to have the opportunity to be the Student Musical Director in White Christmas, as well as playing the ‘seamstress’ and being in the featured chorus group,” Cagle said.

“I can’t wait to be able to grow in my teaching experience, and to see what this experience teaches me!  All the glory to the Lord above.”

The new theatre tech class offered at DHS is something that is also allowing even more students to be involved.

Students work on props for White Christmas. Photo provided.

“And Dallas Summer Musicals is coming again this year to judge and so we are hoping for good results from that,” Clements said.

The Dallas Summer Musicals High School Musical Theatre Awards recognize artistic and educational achievements of  high school programs. DSM came to Durant for the first time last year and evaluated the performance of Mary Poppins.

“They come and watch,” Clements said. “And then at intermission, they go into a room and talk about that they have seen during the first act. After the show, we go back as a directing team and they ask us questions. Last year, they wanted to speak to the stage manager and the tech manager.

“Last year was our first year (to work with DSM) and so we didn’t get into really big detail about like making a model of the set. So this year, we’re trying to step up and do a little more. We just wanted to see what the experience was like and we did learn a lot.

“And this year we’re going to have more entries, like the student director and the student musical director and the student choreographers. And also our tech class, which is new this year, wil be entering the props that they are making. So they’ll probably want to talk with them about how they made the camera or the skis – how they’ve done these things. We’re just getting a little more detailed.”

Advance tickets will be sold online only this year. Anyone wishing to purchase tickets may go to the DHS site with Brown Paper Tickets by clicking the LINK HERE.

Tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for students K-12. Tickets at the door will be $15 and $5. General seating only.

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