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May 28th, 2023

cinderella and stepsisters spotlightCinderella (Dennise Garcia Bautista) is stuck doing the work of her stepfamily (Shiaa Dunlap, Hope Bradford and Khloe Rodriguez) in a recent rehearsal for Eisenhower Middle School’s upcoming production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ‘Cinderella.’ L&T photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


Drama students throughout USD 480 have been showing off their skills in the past few weeks and soon, that showcase of skills will continue. 

The Eisenhower Middle School musical theatre class and choir students will be performing the youth version of Rodgers & Hammerstein's 'Cinderella,' with performances taking place May 2 at 6:30 p.m. and May 8 at 6:30 p.m. in the Eisenhower Middle School cafeteria. Tickets are $5 per person, with children 5 and under free, and people will need to come in through the back entrance. The show is based on the famous fairytale and follows a young woman forced into a life of servitude by her cruel stepfamily, who dreams of a better life. With the help of her fairy godmother, Cinderella is transformed into a princess and finds her prince on a life-changing night.

“We've had this musical theatre class available for a while and we implemented the class in order to help build that bigger bridge to the Liberal High School Drama department. We started the class and we've done some cabaret-style concerts where the students have performed songs from different musicals,” Director Timothy Smith said. “However, I noticed this year, our enrollment numbers were lower than in the past, so I thought 'What's a way we can jazz it up and make the class a bit more entertaining and draw more students in?' to which the response was 'How about we actually do a musical?' So I started researching and thinking about what kind of show we could do based on the students I had enrolled and the numbers and all of that. 'Cinderella' ultimately fit that bill and it's also a story everyone knows and has enjoyed for years. And a great thing about this show is we're collaborating with the choir, so we've actually got a pretty big cast with everyone who's involved.”

lhs drama rehearsalLuis Rivera Rede (left) and Lance Bickerstaff rehearse a scene from the upcoming LHS “The Importance of Being Earnest” production. L&T photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


USD 480 will have no shortage of entertainment this month, with Cottonwood Elementary School presenting “Shrek: The Musical Jr.” later this month and next week, Liberal High School will be presenting the play “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde on April 21, 22 and 23, with evening performances being April 21 and 22 at 7 p.m. and a matinee performance being at 2 p.m. April 23. All performances will be in Maskus Auditorium at Liberal High School and tickets are $3. 

The play follows two bachelors, John ‘Jack’ Worthing and Algernon ‘Algy’ Moncrieff, who create alter egos named Ernest to escape their boring lives and  attempt to win the hearts of two women who, conveniently, claim to only love men called Ernest. Throughout the show, they struggle to keep up with their own stories and ultimately become tangled in misadventure, and there are a couple small subplots to also keep up with. The play also makes fun of some of the British aristocracy and different societal codes that were around when the play was originally written in 1895. Director Miriam Climenhaga said putting the show together has been a great time. 

“We've had a shorter rehearsal period this time around, which has been a little harder for us, but the cast has really been having fun and working really hard. The cast is also somewhat smaller than I usually have, there are seven speaking roles and a few non-speaking roles,” Climenhaga said. “Being a smaller ensemble allows everyone to get to know each other better and come up with some of their own little twists on the characters. Since the show takes place in England, the students have also had a lot of fun working on their British accents, which has been fun to watch. The students have also had fun tapping into the show's humor, they weren't entirely sure about it when they started since it is an older show and humor was a lot different back then, and that's also been really fun to watch.”

shrek rehearsal spotlightCottonwood Elementary School students rehearse a number from the upcoming “Shrek: The Musical Jr.” production. L&T photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


AUTHOR’S NOTE: The names of the students mentioned in this story have been changed in order to protect their privacy. 

Those looking for some ogre-sized talent will have no farther to look than Cottonwood Elementary School later this month. 

Cottonwood Elementary School will be performing 'Shrek: The Musical Jr.' Thursday, April 27 in James Maskus Auditorium at Liberal High School. The show will start at 7 p.m., with the doors opening at 6:30 p.m., and admission is free. The show, based on the 2001 Dreamworks film, follows fierce ogre Shrek as he embarks on a quest that ultimately changes his life in a variety of ways. 

“Since becoming the music teacher here, I've discovered the students haven't really learned a lot about Broadway and that genre, and I come from a more theatre background, so I thought it would be great to do a show. We looked at 'Frozen' and 'Moana' and then 'Shrek,' which the students REALLY liked the idea of,” Cottonwood Elementary School music teacher Aspen Jaramillo said of picking out the show. “I went and talked to our principal, Ms. Mettlen, and asked if it would be okay to put on a musical since this is the first one this school has done, and she was completely supportive and on board with it. I decided to do just a one night only performance because since this is a younger age group, they can get tired easily and I want them to have as much energy as possible, and doing just one performance also makes it a lot more special for people to come out and support these students. We got everything together with the scripts and all of that, then we did auditions in January, and then we started rehearsals in February. It's been a whirlwind, but the students have been so great and they're so excited for the opportunity to do this show for everyone, and I'm so, so proud of them.”