A Look at the New Theater Class at WCS


Ben Grieco

The theater class plays one of their improv games during class.

Amanda Brown, Staff Writer

Fall 2016 has made its unwelcome return from the land of summer dreams and brings with it yet another school year, with all brand-new classes. The last several years, Weedsport’s music department has made tremendous improvements and expansions. This year, as the music department continues to grow, it introduces a new class to its students; Musical Theater. The class is instructed by both Mrs. Dentinger and Mr. Franco, and is intended to equip students with the tools and skills they need for acting in the musical theater and give them a basic understanding of the history of musical theater. To learn more about the value of the class and its purpose, the Johnny Green sat down with Mrs. Dentinger, as well as one of the students in the class, Francie Motto.


Mrs. Dentinger:

Q: Why did you and Mr. Franco feel it was necessary to begin the program?

A: “Mr. Franco and I were talking last year about how our students get a great experience in the musical after school, but they don’t necessarily get the chance to go really in-depth with all of the different features of putting on a musical, especially since our students are involved in so many other things. We also don’t have an opportunity to really teach our students about shows besides the one we’re doing, so this would give us a chance to not only have the students work on different aspects that they don’t get a chance to work on throughout the year, but also give us the opportunity to expose everyone to some great musicals that they don’t really know about.”


Q: What will the curriculum of the class consist of?

A: “It’s somewhat structured chronologically through history. We start with the early 1900s–the Tin Pan Alley era–and we work with musicals from that time period, and each quarter we progress along until fourth quarter we get into the modern-day, contemporary shows. Right now we’re kind of getting everyone’s feet wet. We’re doing a lot of acting and singing games, getting everyone comfortable. Slowly, we’re going to start to have the students work on a couple of their own numbers, scenes, and songs from those shows. As we go through the year, the students will begin to do more things on their own. In the second quarter they’ll be the ones who are actually directing each other and choreographing each other. In the third quarter we’re going to get into more of the behind-the-scenes things. We’ll have students working on lights, and sounds. All of the technical aspects are important for people to know. We even want to have our students do a little bit of set-building. The fourth quarter is a little ambiguous. We’re interested in having some sort of larger-scale musical. Either something with a small cast that already exists or maybe since a lot of the students have taken songwriting courses, even writing their own musical, which a lot of them are interested in. We’re not really sure yet and I think that’s what’s so cool about doing a new course. When students have so many different ideas, you can kind of take it where the students feel they want to go.”


Q: What is the goal of this class?

A: “On the first day, we asked the students what they thought their goals would be as a group, and what their personal goals were. As a group, a lot of it is to bring a lot of the skills that they learn here into our after-school musical program. For their personal goals, they really wanted to build their own confidence and their own skills in certain areas that they feel they need to grow in. Which is interesting because I see a lot of these students and I think, ‘Wow, they’re doing really well on all these things, they’re so great,’ and they’re telling me, ‘No, I’m shy. I need more confidence. This frightens me. This is nerve-wracking.’ They hope to leave this class with that and I hope they do, too. Mr. Franco and I are also excited to see how this group works as a team throughout the year. We think they’ll form some really close bonds that you might not form in a different setting.”


Francie Motto:

Q: When you heard about this class, what were you hoping to get out of it?

A: “I was really hoping to just have fun because I know that all the other music classes are really cool and I was really happy that there was a class geared toward something that I am so passionate about. There’s only one musical per year at Weedsport, and other schools do multiple. They’ll  either do a musical and a play, or two musicals, and I was hoping that in this class we could put on some other things as well. So instead of just three months of it, it’s an entire year.”


Q: Do you think this class has any value for students outside of the musical theater?

A: “Definitely. For the first few weeks we’ve been doing acting and improv games which really gets people more comfortable with their bodies. And the dancing really helps people get more comfortable in their bodies too because when you think about it, most people only walk and sit and they don’t do the same things that dance provides. It can really help people take ground. It also helps students with their confidence. In this class when you have to speak in front of people, it’s in front of a small class where they’re all very accepting. All the experience helps, I think, especially if someone is scared to talk to people. It’s good to be comfortable talking to people because in most jobs you have to speak in front of people.”


Q: How do you think this class will help students improve in the musical theater?

A: “Like anything, practice makes perfect, so the more you are singing and acting, the more you are talking in front of people, and the more comfortable you are in your body, the better you will be at it.”


Q: What are your plans for the future and how will this class help you get there?

A: “I hope to make a career out of acting. The plan is I’m going to apply to colleges for musical theater and if I get accepted then I go. If I don’t then I’ll move onto other plans. I think that taking the class will make colleges more likely to accept me, because of the extra experience I’ll have.”