Shirland School displayed great musical talent in Schoolhouse Rock Live, Jr.


The Shirland School music department presented Schoolhouse Rock. Photo: April McGinnis

Shirland School's music department brought the story of Schoolhouse Rock Live, Jr. to life on Thursday evening, April 20, 2022.

A huge audience relived memories of this 1970's award winning Saturday morning educational cartoon.

Cast members worked under the direction of Ms. Dawn Heavilin.

The cast wore red shirts displaying all of the spring musicals and last year's spring concert as tour dates,  similar to paying homage to rock bands or traveling music theater groups.

The story behind Schoolhouse Rock revolves around Tom Mizer (convincingly portrayed by Jordan Nelson), a new teacher who wakes up and prepares for his first day of school by practicing what he is going to say to his students.

The show attracted attention beyond Shirland.  The characters are named after the original cast members in the 1993 premiere in Chicago. The real Tom Mizer, who is not a teacher but is now an award-winning lyricist, saw our previous article and posted on Facebook, "So, yes, for business purposes I have a google alert on my name. (Hush.) But this is my absolute favorite kind of link that comes up. If you live near Shirland, IL please go see Jordan Nelson take on the very taxing and dramatic role"

Dori, played by the very talented Caroleann McClevige, gave advice on how to remember that “Nouns are a Person, Place, or a Thing.”

To better illustrate the words of the song “Great American Melting Pot,” cast members carried in flags from different countries.

George (Jordan Paul) took the lead on “Three is a Magic Number,” one of the show's best known songs.

The ensemble asked for “Elbow Room,” and invited everyone to join in “Doing the Circulation.”

Catchy tunes such as “Lolly, Lolly, Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here” and Unpack Your Adjectives" incorporated lessons in each.

George demonstrated how things work when Congress tries to pass a bill, in the classic lyrics of “Just A Bill.”

Powerful vocals of Shirland student Billy Hoff made “Conjunction Junction, Junction” a song to remember.

Extra large poster boards with adjectives or conjunctions helped to tell the story by accentuating points to remember with corresponding words to songs.

The musical number “Interplanet Janet” captured great attention. Maddie Pals brilliantly played Janet. Vocalist Etta Lewis was the featured soloist.

Ensemble members wore colorful costumes representing the sun and each planet.

The introduction of Elvis, memorably portrayed by Nick Sprigler, added an extra dose of fun to the production. Even while dancing, Sprigler was always fully in character as Elvis.

Performers were mixing singing, dancing, and acting in parts of the stage, sometimes using the aisles or risers.

Thanks to the talents of the entire cast and crew of Shirland School's music department, audiences had the privilege of reliving past memories as newer generations were introduced to a classic musical.

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