‘War of the Worlds’ will be featured in dances, songs



Students (left to right) Bryson Goda, Londyn Heinzerling and Maegan Weygand rehearse for the stage show at the River Raisin Center for the Arts.  Now pictured are students Ralph Jordan and Brianna Lynch.

The year-old Monroe School of the Performing Arts turns to a classic for its third public performance.

Middle and high school students at the school will perform “War of the Worlds” at 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the River Raisin Center for the Arts, 114 S. Monroe St. All tickets are $5 each. For tickets, visit https://www.riverraisincentre.org/ or call the box office at (734) 242-RRCA.

The show will feature dances and songs based on “War of the Worlds”, an 1897 science fiction novel about an alien invasion by HG Wells. For Halloween 1938, actor Orson Welles offered a dramatized radio reading based on the novel, which caused panic among listeners.

“It was an interesting historical event, because the public believed that the story was a real radio broadcast of aliens invading the planet,” said Claire Bechard, co-founder of the school and one of the teachers.

The cast includes five students, Bryson Goda, Londyn Heinzerling, Maegan Weygand, Ralph Jordan and Brianna Lynch. They also helped put on the show.

“Students and producers worked on selecting songs that we knew from the time,” Bechard said. “I was surprised when they brought up the titles of 1930s jazz standards. The tunes will sway, which is a fun juxtaposition to the plot of aliens invading earth. The students worked incredibly hard to learn all of their multiple roles.”

This year, Bechard is joined by two other instructors: Lisa Lewandowski and Lexi Zelenak. Lewandowski is also a dance teacher for the RRCA-based River Raisin Dance Academy.

“She is one of our RRCA tap instructors and has extensive experience in musical theater,” Bechard said.

Zelenak helps with vocal performance.

“Lexi Zelenak led the students in vocal warm-ups and led the music for the students. This is part of our long-term plan to increase dancing and singing in the program,” Bechard said.

This year’s group at the Monroe School of the Performing Arts is a mix of new and returning students.

“We are very happy to have new students and former students in the program. I’ve been so proud of their progress over the past year and how comfortable they are on stage and in their theatrical skills. Most of our students are now in high school,” Bechard said.

Last year, the school presented “Aesop’s (Oh So Slightly) Updated Fables”. An original work, “The Candy Caper”, was presented in April.

“It was a really fun show to produce,” Bechard said. “We plan to do another original work this winter.”

The Monroe School of the Performing Arts meets on Saturday mornings at the RRCA.

“New students are encouraged to register for the winter semester, which will begin January 21 and run through March 25,” Bechard said. “Our winter performances will take place on March 25 and 26. MSoPA is open to students of all levels of musical theatre/dance, ages 12-18. We will meet for 10 consecutive weekends and tuition is $15 per week.

For more information, call Béchard at (734) 242-RRCA.

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