Fall musical a chance to learn on stage, in community for students

Students from Clay Middle School at Agape House

For Clay Middle School students participating in the school’s production of “Annie,” the show encompasses more than a performance. Those involved in the show have been working with Kingdom’s Kloset and Agape Families, each of which help serve children in need and/or foster children. According to those working with the show, this allows the cast and crew to more fully understand the concepts associated with “Annie,” which follows a girl as she transitions from an orphanage to wealthy adoptive parents.

“We always try to do something that is relevant to the play,” Becky Schmelz, parent volunteer coordinator, said. “This year we thought, ‘Annie:’ orphanages. We made some contact with this local group that helps foster children.”

In preparation for the show, students sorted bags of donations for children in foster care for Kingdom’s Kloset, which provides a week’s worth of essentials for children in need. Additionally, the cast and crew hosted a lunch and arts and crafts with the children of the Agape Home. Speakers also spoke with ‘Annie’ members about the foster care/adoption process.

June Clair, producer of ‘Annie,’ said that adding an educational component to its shows is a long-running tradition for Clay Middle School. To coincide with last year’s production of “The Music Man,” the students ventured to the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

“To give the kids a flavor of turn-of-the-century small town, we took them to the old Hook’s drug store in the fairgrounds,” Clair said. In previous years, students went to the Morris-Butler House for high tea in preparation for “Pirates of Penzance” and studied the Nazi takeover of Austria to prepare for “The Sound of Music.”

Schmelz said that educational component associated with Clay Middle School’s productions not only helps the cast and crew understand the show, but it offers another layer of learning.

“Even as they’re learning their lines, there will be parts in the play that they don’t understand. They’ll stop and explain to them what that meant. So it’s almost like they’re getting a history lesson and they don’t even realize it, and then they take that home. It’s neat to see that,” Schmelz said.

For the cast and crew of “Annie,” Schmelz said that volunteer activity brought a new dimension to the context of the show.

“We’re trying to get them to portray anger, and that feeling of what it’s like to not have family to back you up,” Schmelz said. “I think seeing these kids and trying to understand that they don’t have anything kind of gave them more of a feeling for that. It just seems to give them an idea that life can be different than what they’re living.”

“Annie” runs March 11 and 12 at 4 and 7:30 p.m. at Clay Middle School. Tickets range from $6 to $10 and are $5 for students and can be purchased at Clay Middle School.