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Musical production returns to Waterford high school

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Organizers of this year’s musical production at Waterford District High School knew they were taking a risk back in November.

“We started doing auditions for Elf in November, we were doing these auditions on a hope and a prayer,” said musical director Janet Dickson, who also teaches math and music at WDHS.

“We told the kids that we don’t know if this is going to happen but there is value in the process, there’s value in doing auditions, reading the script together and writing the songs.”

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The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted plans for the school’s annual musical before. In 2020, the school cancelled its production of Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5.

This year, with most pandemic protocols now lifted, everything was a go for the musical version of the Christmas classic, Elf. It was held April 28 and 29.

Twenty-two student actors brought the story’s colourful characters to life. Eight students worked behind the scenes with tech and design, along with student volunteers who worked on construction and painting.

Six adult volunteers and alumni worked in the costume and props department.

Dickson said with all the experienced actors now graduated, it was challenging to cast students for the roles. After auditions were held in November, the selected actors conducted non-singing rehearsals and script reads in January through Zoom and Teams meetings.

“It was difficult because you can’t coach them, you can’t show them. We were also delayed in being able to sing together because of COVID,” said Dickson. “In March, when we got to go on the stage and take off our masks and sing, it was like a whole new world.”

The musical featured newly added jazz-like music to coincide with Elf’s popular, family friendly storyline.

Dickson said it’s an amazing experience as director to see the students grow with their characters and give them the opportunity to shine in the role.

Elf continues the school’s long run of musicals. Some of the previous productions include Beauty and the Beast, Catch Me If You Can, Singing in the Rain and The Wizard of Oz.

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