The Other Winter Sport

Bill Fisher
Every winter, Shore's Upper School students participate in one of several sports, a core requirement in the school's whole-child educational approach. And every year, alongside traditional offerings such as basketball, squash, and conditioning, seventh through ninth graders may elect the winter musical as their sport for the season.

Though the musical option may strike some as a quirk of Shore's program, it only takes a few moments inside the Center for Creativity to understand that the winter production—always the year's most elaborate—can be as demanding as the athletic contests that take place in the Howard Gymnasium. The athletics program at Shore emphasizes not only the skills and strategies specific to an individual sport, but also those experiences in teamwork, sportsmanship, grace under pressure, and winning and losing that will be essential throughout their lives. This year, just as in previous seasons, Shrek The Musical is truly a team sport, in every sense of the term.

[Shrek The Musical is on stage in the Trustey Family Theatre from March 1–3. Tickets are on sale at https://shoreschool.tix.com/]

Beginning on the first day of the winter trimester with tryouts in music and dance, musical participants were swept up in a fast-paced series of rehearsal sessions, during which they mastered the nearly two dozen songs and dance numbers in the two-hour production. Over the course of the winter, every Shrek "team" member, whether in a starring role or as part of the large company of supporting singers and dancers, spent some 40 hours on the stage of the Trustey Family Theatre or around the grand piano in the Upper School music studio before they were ready to present the show for the public in the first week of March. During rehearsals that stretched into the evening every Wednesday, and that included several day-long weekend practices, director Sarah Carlin, teacher/choreographers Sarah Sklarsky and Kate Ventimiglia, and music director Jenn Boyum helped students develop performances as polished as those seen in high school and even college productions.

Behind the scenes, with the guidance of teachers and winter musical veterans Cam McNall, Sam Hamlin, and Kent Vienot, students on the tech team designed and constructed Shrek's castle and numerous other large set pieces and backdrops. Later, the theater tech students moved on to learn how to stage-manage the performances and run lighting and sound boards.

Needless to say, the final public performances of the winter musical are intense, physically demanding, and ultimately joyous culminations of the students' months of work. One of the highlights of the entire school year, the winter musical is also proof that drama—with its long practice sessions, triumphant solos, occasional missed lines, demanding physical and mental routines, and most importantly its comaraderie on the stage and behind the scenes—is indeed a sport all its own.


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