Chief Umtuch students share the spotlight in the school’s first ever musical

posted Feb 1, 2018, 3:49 PM by Joe Vajgrt   [ updated Feb 1, 2018, 4:26 PM by Rita Sanders ]

Chief Umtuch students share the spotlight in the school’s first ever musical 

February 1, 2018

The students at Chief Umtuch Middle School are just about ready to perform the school’s first ever musical. With a cast of 60 from all grade levels (fifth through eighth) and sound and lighting also being handled by students, the kids at Chief truly have ownership of their “Peter Pan, Jr.” production. Based on J.M. Barrie's original play, Disney’s Peter Pan, Jr. is a modern version of the timeless tale about a boy who wouldn't grow up. 

Wendy Darling loves to tell stories to her brothers, Michael and John. However, when her father announces she must move out of the nursery, Peter Pan comes to visit the children and whisks them away to Neverland. Their journey introduces them to the Lost Boys, Mermaids, Indians and even the infamous pirate, Captain Hook! It’s Peter to the rescue when Wendy is taken captive by the dreaded captain who has his own sinister plans in mind for our hero. Performances will take place next weekend, Feb. 8-10. 

“When the lights go down and the curtain comes up, our show is ultimately a student-driven production,” said Douglas Orofino, director of the play and Chief Umtuch’s choir teacher. “The performers have a lot of independence, and everyone involved wants to make the show the best it can possibly be.” 

The students agree. “It’s been a lot of work balancing play practice with school work, but it’s been so much fun,” said eighth grader Adriana Fachiol, who plays Tinkerbell. “I can’t wait for our parents and families to see the results of all the work that we’ve put in.”

Orofino says the performers often break into smaller groups to rehearse their parts, providing encouragement and positive criticism. “It presents a great opportunity for the students to work together and interact in a constructive, positive way,” Orofino said. 

Despite their age differences, the students say they’ve enjoyed working together. As one of the youngest members of the cast, fifth grader Parker Elwes (who plays the part of Michael) says that he appreciates the older students treating him like an equal. “We all laugh at each other if we mess up in rehearsal, but we all also help one another,” Elwes said. “It’s been a lot of fun, but also a lot of hard work.” 

It’s not just Chief Umtuch students who are pitching in to make “Peter Pan, Jr.” a reality. The choreography was created by a Prairie High School student. Students from Battle Ground High School are helping with the lighting and sound system setup. Laurin Middle School, which performed the play a few years ago, provided many of the play’s props, and the set pieces are being made available thanks to the Journey Theater in Milwaukie, Ore. 

“All the parent support has been wonderful, but the students are the stars and have exceeded everyone’s expectations,” said assistant director Stephanie Staley. “We have some tremendously talented kids. They’ve been so hard working, eager, and coachable.” 

“Interacting with our performers and seeing them grow has been my favorite part of this whole experience,” Orofino said. “The buildup has been a long process, and we can’t wait for everyone to see what we’ve been up to all year.” 

The musical runs from Feb. 8-10. Performances will be at Chief Umtuch Middle School in the cafetorium, 700 NW 9th St, Battle Ground, WA. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 8-10 as well as at 12:30 p.m. for the Feb. 10 matinee. Tickets are $3 each or  $10 for a Family Four Pack Tickets can only be purchased at the door on performance dates.

Performances dates and times are:
  • Thursday, Feb. 8, 7:00 p.m.
  • Friday, Feb. 9, 7:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, Feb. 10, 1:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.