CW Middle Schoolers accept the challenges of the theatre

By Dedra Cordle
Staff Writer

Messenger photo by Dedra Cordle
Canal Winchester Middle School students Dawsyn Adams and Gabriel French rehearse a scene for the upcoming play, “Beauty and the Beast.” The two eighth graders will be playing Belle and The Beast, respectively, during the four-show run in late May.

It’s a tale as old as time.

Whenever Cyndi Murphy explains what she does for a living, the reactions are all the same.

“They give me this horrified look, which is followed by an ‘Oh, I feel so sorry for you,’” she said with a laugh.

But it is not her occupation as a music educator that draws such a horrified reaction, it is the grade level she teaches.

“Sixth, seventh and eighth graders,” she said. “It’s a notoriously difficult age group.”

Having taught music education for over two decades, Murphy has experienced all the emotions from her rapidly changing students, but she said she has always felt as if they were never given enough credit during this period of their lives.

“It has been an amazing thing for me to watch them grow,” she said.

One of her favorite things to tell them is that they need to seize the moment, be bold and fearless.

Their spirit, she says, reminds her to be bold from time to time.

She recalled the moment nine years ago when she felt some stagnation in her classroom.
“I was bored and looking for a challenge,” she said.

So she asked the principal at Canal Winchester Middle School if the music department could start putting on musicals to add a different dimension for herself and the students.

She was given the go-ahead and threw herself into the challenge of “Schoolhouse Rock!” The students were with her all the way.

“No one knew what we were doing,” said Karen Cook, Murphy’s assistant who helps with the costumes.

Still, they managed to pull off a successful show and a new passion was born.

Since 2008, the school has hosted a musical near the end of each year. Some of the musicals have been large in scope, as is the case with this year’s production of “Beauty and the Beast, Jr.”

There are more than 50 cast members involved in this production and each one of them has been hard at work since Murphy announced they would be doing “Beauty and the Beast” earlier this year.

“It’s been a big challenge,” said Dawsyn Adams, an eighth grader who is portraying the lead character of Belle. “There is a lot of dancing, there are musical numbers, there’s music over talking and tons of scene changes.”

She hopes the audience not only enjoys the production, but the behind the scenes efforts as well.

“I hope that they’re touched that a bunch of kids came together to put on this great show, said Adams.

Murphy said she wishes for the same thing, especially for those who may underestimate the grade level she teaches.

“I want them to be blown out of the water and come away saying ‘I had no idea these kids were capable of pulling off something like that,’” said Murphy.

She said she has no doubt that her students will impress.

“They’re amazing,” she said.

Canal Winchester Middle School’s production of “Beauty and the Beast, Jr.” will run from May 19–21. Show times are: May 19 at 7 p.m., May 20 at 7 p.m. and May 21 at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the box office or at cwls.ludustickets.com. The shows will be held at the school, located at 7155 Parkview Drive, Canal Winchester.

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