Disney's Newsies Jr - June 08 - June 10, 2023

Highlander Theatre Company at Somerville High School


The idea for an All City Middle School musical first sparked long before our inaugural production of Shrek, Jr. in 2019. In fact, it was ten years ago that a group of parents came together to create an after school drama program at the Kennedy School. About a year later, I joined the team as their Director. What followed has been the longest and most meaningful collaboration of my career.


As the Kennedy program grew, we considered ways of expanding drama opportunities to more students in Somerville through a city-wide production. In an effort to widen their impact, the parents (as I still affectionately refer to them) started a non-profit organization called Somerville Arts for Youth. Not long after, I landed my dream job as a district-wide theatre teacher and the stage was set for us to launch our long anticipated project: an All City Middle School Musical. 


In truth, both Somerville Arts for Youth and the All City Middle School Musical were created to address a still-unmet need in the Somerville Public Schools. Today, only 1 of 9 elementary and middle schools in our district has a drama teacher on staff. That means that there is simply no drama curriculum available to the vast majority of students in Somerville, and the All City Middle School musical serves as the only opportunity for many students in grades 6-8 to be a part of an after-school production.


I look forward to the day when there is a drama teacher at every school in Somerville. I look forward to a day when students arrive at Somerville High School with their passions for theatre already ignited and with a foundation of theatrical skills setting them up for success in high school and the years after. Until that day, most of our students remain without access to one of the most powerful tools available for social-emotional learning, critical thinking, and identity development. 


Why do I mention this on the occasion of this production of Disney’s Newsies, Jr? Because it occurs to me that if it weren’t for a real-life group of courageous Newsies, we wouldn’t have a story to tell today. If it weren’t for that ambitious group of parents ten years ago, we wouldn’t have a way to tell that story. So maybe - just maybe - it's up to us to come together and adovacate for the district-wide theatre program that ALL of our students deserve. After all, as Margaret Mead said:


Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.


Thank you for your support, and enjoy the show!


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