The eighth graders at Maddox have decided to donate the proceeds from the evening’s admissions to their classmate Lane Clark, who was diagnosed in October with T-cell leukemia.
Beth Able, the art and drama teacher at Maddox, and Tamara Matthews, choral music and drama teacher at both Maddox and Walker High School, said all the students were “on board” with the idea when it was presented.
“Lane is a part of this class. I mean, he’s an eighth grader, but he was also in this group; he was going to be a stagehand,” Able said. “All of these kids are really close to him and wanted to do something special for his family. So, that’s how we decided to honor him.”
Able said the students were devastated when they first heard about Clark’s diagnosis. Yet it has brought the kids closer together, and they have taken the initiative on their own to hold fundraisers, sell wristbands and hand out orange ribbons in support of Clark.
“It’s a great experience for them. It really pulls these kids together for that eighth-grade year. They get really close, and it just gives them something to really work hard for, to leave a legacy behind,” Matthews said. “... It’s bringing out the best in the kids, because they really care for each other.”
“It’s constantly on all of our minds. They want to help any way they can, and this was one big way,” Able added. “We want to pack the place [the theater],” which holds approximately 700 seats.
Out of 189 students in Maddox’s eighth grade, only 42 were selected at auditions during the spring of 2013 — that includes the cast, stage, lighting and technical crews. This year’s play is “Aladdin,” which is a story about a young and impoverished Middle-Eastern boy who stumbles across a genie in a lamp and gets into all sorts of adventure and mischief.
“This was a really good boy and girl group. ‘Aladdin’ has strong girl parts and strong guy parts,” Matthews said. “We don’t always have an abundance of guys that are willing to just jump out there and sing. We have a really good, talented group of guys this time.”
The program can be costly at times, with costumes being shipped in from New York and backdrops coming in from Indiana and California. Students are asked to pay a fee if they are chosen for the play. Matthews said the total cost for the entire production is between $3,500 to $4,000. Some of the money comes from the individual’s pockets; however, Able and Matthews said they also get help through donations and community support.
“Aladdin” will be performed Monday, Nov. 18, at 9 a.m. for third through fifth graders at the city’s elementary schools; 1 p.m. for students at Maddox; and 6:30 p.m. for parents and members of the community. Evening admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students.