LaGrange named top 30 in national musical grant competition

LaGrange 'Smash' competition

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - LaGrange Senior High School plans to make a minor change to its curriculum next fall.

Musical theatre is becoming more popular in today's culture with shows like High School Musical, Glee and now NBC's hit show Smash.

Starting next fall, a musical theater class at LaGrange will combine its current drama and choir classes.

Also in the works, a musical production as part of a nationwide competition in which LaGrange has been named a top 30 finalist, and just cracked the top 10 in voting.

They've had choral performances and put on plays. But this fall, LaGrange students will have a bigger opportunity. They get the chance to be part of a musical theater class complete with a production.

"I feel that we can just really relate with our kids and get them exposed to this," said

Janie Belinda Williams, the vocal music director. "They've seen Hairspray, Dream Girls, some of Tyler Perry's plays and musicals and I think they love them and I think them having an opportunity to do it will be a really great experience for them and a teachable moment for them too."

All of this unfolded after LaGrange entered a national competition sponsored by the NBC show 'Smash.' Over one thousand schools entered the Make a Musical competition. Two weeks ago it was narrowed down to thirty based off the overall need at the school. LaGrange made the cut.

"The kids were excited," said Shelly Buller who teaches drama. "They have been asking us for years to do a musical. This gave us an opportunity because we have support, we have backing, encouragement, so we're really excited about putting this on for our community."

As a finalist, LaGrange will select a musical production to perform. But for the next few weeks, they'll be aiming to reach the top ten.

We've come a long way, since my freshman year, building up the drama department and I've been with the drama department since building it up," said junior Traevon Anthony. "I believe we've come a ways and this would be awesome. It would be great."

So what happens if they make the cut again? Two Broadway experts from New York will come help the school with the production. If selected as the winner, LaGrange will receive ten thousand dollars for upgrades to their auditorium and for costumes and props.

"It makes me feel hopeful that we might actually get the money to do something really nice," said junior Kristen Ellis.

"It's an honor to be able to do that and it's just awesome," said junior Jahson Albert.

For some students, the grant will give them experience opportunities, but one choir student is already thankful for the opportunity LaGrange has been given.

"Even if we don't win, at least I think it would be good for somebody else to get a chance to do it," D'ijana Maddox. "But it would be even better if we get the opportunity."

Voting for the top 10 has begun. Right now the Gators just made the top 10, but voting continues until May. To vote click here and select Junior Theater Project.

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