Musicville

Director Eileen Comstock with her budding group of thespians as they rehearse the award winning children's performance "Musicville" at Cottonwood Valley Charter School.

Whether on the stage, behind the scenes, or both, Socorro youth are gearing up for a three day performance of “Musicville”. Eileen Comstock has taken on weekly directing and coordinating duties for the Youth on Stage program.

“This is an effort to engage kids in all aspects of drama,” she said. “We want kids to be involved with different parts of theater and to be able to grow depending on their strengths and what they find interesting.”

If the title does not give it away, “Musicville” is a musical about Maiden Melody and her friend Radical Rhythm going on a quest to save the kingdom from the evil Sorcerer of Silence. Created by the ‘Beat by Beat’ organization and written by Betina Hershay and Denver Casado, the play received a 2011 Children’s Musical Theatre Festival award in New York City.

Without giving away too much, the action gets moving with the Sorcerer of Silence on a mission to do away with music. Having sneakily witnessed the Sorcerer poison the town to rid people of their vocal abilities it is up to Melody and Rhythm to bring music back. Along their journey the duo stumbles upon an array of eclectic acts and foreign lands such as the Desert of Doo-Wop, the Ocean of Opera, and the Terrible Terrain of Tango.

Johanne Hansea was selected for the lead role in the ensemble cast as Maiden Melody. A princess from ‘Melody Meadows’, the young lady has become bored with the repetitive nature of her home town’s music which is one reason why she has decided to venture out.

“As soon as my family moved here I got involved in one of Dr. Eileen’s plays,” she said. “I didn’t get the part I wanted the first time but still had a lot of fun. After that I’ve been involved as much as possible with multiple plays. My favorite part of doing stuff like this is being able to react with other people on stage and the emotions that come with being in front of an audience. It is scary to mess up but also a great feeling that comes with live theater.”

While the students do pitch in Comstock also relies on several volunteers that donate their time during rehearsals. Currently 14 years old and entering his freshman year at SHS, Warren Kurtnaker has been in youth performances since the age of five and decided as he got into his high school years that his passion was to help teach the young up-and-coming thespians.

“I want to put what I learned from past role models into these kids,” he said. “Some of these people have never even met each other and theater brings us together. I think of Eileen as a second mother in a way and I am so happy that I can help her whenever needed. Plus I just love acting and music. Every time I come here to help these kids grow together makes me smile. I used to have stage fright all the time and getting these guys and girls out of their shell is very important.”

Before breaking for lunch Comstock and other coordinators give kids the opportunity to create unique artistic renderings on blank sheets of paper as they will be given the freedom to design their own set pieces for the show.

“The point of this workshop is to mentor them to become experts in all the areas,” she said. “We don’t just teach them the show but also everything needed to pull a show like this off. I’m seeing a lot of growth and the group working together very well which is the goal of our program.”

The three showtimes will take place at Cottonwood Valley Charter School from July 19-21.

Performances will last around 60 minutes. More than 20 kids ages 4 to 17 will be on the stage giving fans a taste of their budding theatrical skills.