Columbia to present ‘Mulan Jr.’

Cast members in “Mulan Jr.” gathered at Huntsville Botanical Garden. Their production will run on Feb. 10-11. CONTRIBUTED
Cast members in “Mulan Jr.” gathered at Huntsville Botanical Garden. Their production will run on Feb. 10-11. CONTRIBUTED

MADISON – After months of rehearsals, the Drama Club at Columbia Elementary School will present Disney’s “Mulan Jr.” on Feb. 10-11.

Columbia students will stage their musical in James Clemens High School Auditorium. A total of 123 students from all grades at Columbia (K-6) are involved with the production. The cast includes 62 students, while the chorus has 61 members, Karyn Murphree said.

Murphree and Natalie Bagwell are co-directing the musical. The both have children participating in the drama program and have been involved with plays in past years.

“Everyone in the cast had to audition for their role in August,” Murphree said. “Almost 100 children tried out. They’ve been hard at work ever since cast selection.”

The staff invited all Columbia students to join the chorus. The only requirement was their willingness to commit to weekly rehearsals.

Based on Disney’s Oscar-nominated film, “Mulan Jr.” is a heartwarming celebration of culture, honor and the fighting spirit. With hit songs and a story packed with action, humor and heart, this hour-long musical production brings ancient China to life with a modern sensibility, Murphree said.  

“Columbia’s Drama Club is completely run by parent volunteers and very much supported by our administration, led by Principal Mr. Jamie Hill,” Murphree said. First-grade teacher Alison Carvalho is teacher sponsor. “Alison is very involved making props, helping direct children and being our choreographer, in addition to her teacher sponsor duties.”

Each year, many parents volunteer to make this production happen at Columbia. Jenny Webb and Sonja Eames are music and voice directors, respectively. Set director Stephanie Thompson has worked with the James Clemens Theatre Department to construct an impressive set.

“Misty Merschat is our experienced producer, as this is her fourth Columbia play to produce,” Murphree said.

Columbia Drama Club members marched in the Madison Christmas Parade. Select children have performed at various community events during the past few months, in efforts to promote the show.

“We even had a parent to enter a card that promoted our show in Madison Arts Council’s Christmas Card Lane. Her ‘Mulan Jr.’ card is now proudly displayed in front of our school,” Murphree said.

Drama boosters sold Chick-fil-A calendars as a fundraiser. Cast members will give a show preview to Madison Board of Education at one of its meetings.

“This is the sixth year for CES Drama Club but our fourth year to perform at a high school venue. We performed ‘Willy Wonka Jr.’ and then ‘Peter Pan Jr.’ at James Clemens in 2014 and 2015. Last year, we performed the Young Performers edition of ‘Wizard of Oz’ at Bob Jones High School,” she said.

“We are always so thankful for the support these local high schools and their drama departments lend,” Murphree said. Proceeds from each show help with production expenses for the subsequent year’s production by Columbia.

The cast’s first show will be closed to the public but offered as a field trip to all Columbia students and staff, Madison City Schools Superintendent and Madison Board of Education members.

The public can attend a show on Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. or on Feb. 11 at 2 and 7 p.m. All shows will be presented in the James Clemens Auditorium.

Tickets are $7. To buy tickets online, visit showtix4u.com and search for “CES Drama”; also, tickets will be sold at the musical while seats last.

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