Behind the Scenes of Westward Whoa
By the Journalism Club
Fourth, 5th and 6th grade Journalism Club students sat down with Mr. Phillips to talk with him about what goes into planning the 6th grade musical and what Mitchell can expect for next year.
J-club: After the auditions, how do you decide who gets which part?
Mr. Phillips: By judges’ score and student preference.There are five criteria judges score. They are: projection, diction, character, voice, and overall assessment. Character is defined as the student’s ability to stay in character, be theatrical and maintain an accent if needed. Voice quality is judged by pitch-matching only.
J-club: Why did you use bananas as guns?
Mr. Phillips: Based on feedback from MCAT, we wanted to avoid using weapon props. Also, Westward Whoa is a melodrama. The props supported the overall sense of silliness and comedy.
J-club: How do you decide which musical you’re going to perform each year?
Mr. Phillips: Based on my perceived assessment of student interest and ability. I also meet with the involved parents after the wrap of the show to talk and begin planning for the following year.
J-club: For Westward Whoa, where did you read about it, or find it, or learn about it?
Mr. Phillips: Knowing that I was interested in doing a melodrama this year, I chose it based on the synopsis on the Pioneer Publishing website.
J-club: How do you decide the clothes the performers wear?
Mr. Phillips: By character and student preference.
J-club: How stressful has this musical been to coordinate as the other ones you’ve done? Mr. Phillips: This year was a little more stressful because of the time of year the Golden High School theater was available…after vacation.
J-club: We heard this was the first time you’ve run the show for two nights, is that true? Mr. Phillips: No; I like the students to have a second night if possible to refine their performance.
J-club: How much time went into organizing this production?
Mr. Phillips: I can’t even say…
J-club: Why did you choose Westward Whoa? What is it about?
Mr. Phillips: It is a melodrama with a Western theme about the classic story of good vs. evil.
J-club: Why does Mitchell perform a 6th grade musical every year?
Mr. Phillips: As a culmination of the music experience for Mitchell students. This may be the last chance for some students to be exposed to musical theater because it will be an elective after 6th grade.
J-club: For rising 6th graders, how can they prepare to participate in next year’s musical?
Mr. Phillips: Students who want a part in next year’s play should practice the vocal exercises we do during music class over the summer. Also, Heritage Square and the Arvada Center both offer performing arts camps during the summer. Participation in those kinds of activities also helps.