Mount Pleasant High School will “let it snow” next spring as it’s the only school in Delaware to have the licensing rights to perform Disney’s “Frozen” on stage.
The school’s theater program will perform each evening at 7 p.m. from March 30 to April 1. There will also be a matinee performance at 2 p.m. on April 1.
Fifty-one schools – one in each U.S. state and one in Germany – won the production rights through a competition organized by the Educational Theater Association, Disney Theater Group and International Theater Music.
The competition, titled “USA of Frozen: Love as an Open Door,” assessed three aspects of schools’ theater programs: diversity and inclusion, community outreach, and ability to include. an orchestra as part of its production.
Mount Pleasant has the orchestra, and Chris Turner, the school’s theater director, said he also has an incredible record of inclusion.
“Our school has about 65 percent minority students,” Turner said. “We have one of the highest rates of kids within the LGBTQ community in our program and our theater program empowers them to find their place and find their voice.”
In terms of outreach, Turner said the school has always tried to make it a welcoming space for everyone.
“We don’t think you have to be really into the drama to want to be involved in the production, and that’s it, to be on stage and backstage as well,” he said. “So we work very hard to market what we do to everyone in the community.”
Mount Pleasant band manager Brian Drumbore said Disney provided a 21-piece orchestral score.
“Disney was very kind and allowed us to do whatever we wanted with the orchestra by combining a few parts or reworking certain parts,” Drumbore said.
Allowing so much artistic freedom is unusual in the theater world, he added.
“Normally, when you sign up for an orchestral book, it is against your license to combine parts into one, or separate parts and other modifications.”
Disney has also been flexible in not requiring actors to wear specific costumes or have specific sets.
“They want you to own it, because in their minds we’re granting the ability to do the job, not the vision people have when they put it on Broadway,” Turner said. “They really want you to find your own interpretation of it.”
When Drumbore was growing up, people saw the stage crew as a place for people who had failed to get acting roles.
Now students are lining up to join the stage crew, he said. Many of them are interested in the technical aspects of production, such as lighting, staging, sound control or costume design.
“They want to pursue technical careers in theater and giving these kids real authentic experience to get that experience is a huge credit to what we’re doing here at Mount Pleasant,” Drumbore said.
With an intermission, Drumbore expects the play to last between two and three hours.
Casting auditions will take place in early December before the students go home for the holidays.
Casting will be set in early January and rehearsals will begin shortly thereafter.
Winning schools received the rights to up to three performances of “Frozen,” which includes a video license and free access to the work’s digital script, score and orchestrations.
Disney and Mount Pleasant haven’t set a price for the school’s fourth show, but Turner expects it to cost between $4,000 and $6,000.
“In any given year, putting together a musical of the standard we do can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000,” Turner said. “It covers license fees for the show, any orchestra we need to hire, sets, paint, costumes, any lights we need to rent, any sound pieces we need to rent, and more.”
Mount Pleasant frequently hosts fundraisers for productions, and Turner said every dollar the school makes from ticket sales and concessions goes directly to the theater program.
Both Turner and Drumbore pointed out that Mount Pleasant theater productions are almost entirely student-run.
“One of the things that I think really amazes me every year is that everything in this production will be supervised and directed by children,” Drumbore said. “It’s a running joke in the show that as the bandleader, I’m the only adult who actually works on the show.”
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a BA in Journalism and a BA in Political Science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before to join Delaware LIVE News.
Jarek can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at (215) 450-9982. Follow him on Twitter @jarekrutz