WOODRIDGE – Thomas Jefferson Junior High will host its annual fall musical this weekend, when students will be preforming “Millie,” a show set in The Roaring Twenties.
Alex Buda, music theory and music production teacher, doubles as the program’s director. He said each year they try to showcase more talents, whether it be acting, singing, comedy or this year’s focus – dance.
“Every year we try to do something a little bit different,” he said. “This year we were really hoping to show off dance ability.”
Choosing “Millie” as this year’s production was also an attempt to bring the students’ curriculum into the musical theater, according to choreographer Tarah Tesmer.
“With ‘Millie,’ there’s the historical connection in The Roaring Twenties,” Tesmer said. “It’s a perfect tie-in and it kind of ups the rigor of our production.”
The show will performed Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 3 p.m. at the junior high, 7200 Janes Ave., for the entire Woodridge community.
A group of about 45 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students are putting the musical together, according to Buda.
Students have been participating in workshops since the first week of school in August. Buda said the group is filled with talent and he’s excited to share that with the audience.
“It’s not just seeing the students take the suggestions and directions, but to see them go further and develop the spin on the characters,” said Buda, who has been teaching at the school for four years. “We have a lot of talented students.”
Buda said he feels privileged to be able to showcase these students and be a part of their acting careers.
“Each day brings a new challenge but this is what makes it exciting,” he said.
Buda and Tesmer originally brought the idea of musical theater to the school’s attention about three years ago.
“When I was hired there really wasn’t that opportunity for students in musical theater,” said Tesmer, the school’s instructional technology coach. “Alex came during my second year and with the two of us working together, now we’ve built the program.”
Tesmer said she’s impressed and amazed every day by the cast’s talent.
“Saturday [during dress rehearsal] when we saw it, it was out of this world,” Tesmer said. “We looked at each other and said we have a show.
“It’s going to be incredible,” she said. “People are in for a real treat.”