BELLEVILLE Students here are getting a lesson in musical theater and will share a stage full of lessons with audience members when they perform Schoolhouse Rock Live! next week on Friday and Saturday.
Belleville Henderson Central School District vocal music teacher Renee M. Scherer had been unable to shake the songs from Schoolhouse Rock Live! from her head. The Emmy Award-winning Saturday morning cartoon series on ABC from 1973 to 1985 taught history, grammar, math and more through clever, tuneful songs.
They are still in my head from 30 years ago, Mrs. Scherer said. I have always loved the songs and Id been thinking of staging it for a couple of years and this was the year I thought I had the right kids to do it, she said.
Schoolhouse Rock Live!, based on the television show, follows Tom, a nerve-wracked school teacher who is on edge about his first day of teaching. He tries to relax by watching television. But various characters representing facets of his personality emerge from the set and show him how to win his students over with imagination and music.
Those characters are Georgia, who reflects Toms romantic side, played by Danielle Simmons; Dori, Toms goofy side, played by Karen Fargo; Schulie, Toms sweet side, played by Angela Scherer; Joe, Toms cool side, played by Noah Sugden, and Dina, Toms mature side, played by Elizabeth Scherer.
I like it because its different, said Angela Scherer, an 11th grader who is Mrs. Scherers daughter and Elizabeths twin sister. Its not the kind of thing you see all the other schools doing.
Senior Jake H. Allen, who plays Tom, said he didnt really understand the concept of the play until he talked to some teachers who filled him in on the television program.
Its unique because usually we have a lot of dialogue, he said. This is more singing and dancing and fun for the whole family.
Mr. Allen, who will be attending St. John Fisher College in Rochester this fall to study communications, said the topics sung about and discussed cover a variety of subjects from grammar to science and will especially appeal to younger audience members.
They can learn something different in every song, he said.
Students from seventh grade up are putting on the musical.
I think thats fun because I get to know more people I go to school with who I wouldnt necessarily interact with, said junior Miss Simmons.
Music and lyrics in Schoolhouse Rock Live! are by Lynn Ahrens, Bob Dorough, Dave Frishberg, Kathy Mandry, George Newall and Tom Yohe. Its book is by Scott Ferguson, Kyle Hall and George Keating.
Songs include Verb: Thats Whats Happening, Sufferin Till Suffrage, Do the Circulation, Zero, My Hero and Conjunction Junction.
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The cast of Schoolhouse Rock Live! at Belleville Henderson Central School District:
Jake Allen as Tom, Danielle Simmons as Georgia, Karen Fargo as Dori, Angela Scherer as Shulie, Noah Sugden as Joe and Elizabeth Scherer as Dina.
Ensemble: Ethan Bast, Cheyenne Dukes, Hera Li, Jordan Flagg, Julia Dodge, Nicholas Henry, Ashley Hodge, Abigail Tamblin, Karlie Maloney, Perri Redden, Hope Barney and Claire McNitt.
Pit band, directed by Mrs. Scherer: Dan Osborne, piano, Joe Foy, bass, and Stephen Dittmer, drums.
Marissa Sugden is the one-person stage crew and Belleville Henderson Central School band instructor Richard Badour directs lights and sound.