The American Theatre Wing, an organization dedicated to supporting excellence and education in theatre, recently awarded the Dalton Middle School Drama/Theatre Arts program with the Andrew Lloyd Webber Classroom Resources Grant.
The Andrew Lloyd Webber Initiative was established in 2016 to foster future generations of theatre makers. The grant provides resources for under-represented talent on and off the stage.
DMS/Hammond Creek Theatre Arts teacher Courtenay Cholovich hopes the grant will encourage diversity and engagement within the theatre program by providing more opportunities for community involvement.
"My hope is that not only will my students' stories be a part of this but that there will be community outreach ... talking to members of our community about their experiences," Cholovich said.
Mrs. Cholovich is approaching this project with the goal of celebrating Dalton's vibrant Latino community through the arts.
"I think there's a great story to be told from a perspective we don't often hear from," Cholovich said. "My hope is that we can engage with the community and get some stories that haven't been heard."
The program was given $22,600 to hire professional artists and musicians to create and premiere a new Dalton-based musical arranged with students.
Cholovich hopes incorporating mariachi music into the musical will inspire members of the Latino community to gain a greater sense of ownership in local theatre.
"My hope is that more students get the chance to engage in not just theatre but performance as a way of finding a voice for themselves, learning to be socially conscious citizens and finding a voice in a way that speaks to that through the arts."
The musical will be composed in collaboration with the Dalton Public Schools Mariachi program, headed by DMS/Dalton Junior High School band teacher Daisy Cardona-Kay.
"The musical will feature a script and libretto using popular mariachi tunes in the public domain as inspiration for plot, main musical numbers, and creating a story based on experiences from the lives of Dalton students," according to the American Theatre Wing. "Dalton Middle School is incredibly proud of the cultural diversity they represent. Almost 70% of the student population is Latino/a."
The performances are expected to take place in spring of 2023 at the new Hammond Creek auditorium facility.
Visit AmericanTheatreWing.org for more information on the grant and theatre programs.