Turner Intermediate Selected for Disney Musicals in Schools Program

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The Wilkinsburg School District is pleased to announce its acceptance into the Disney Musicals in Schools program. Turner is one of only four schools in Allegheny County selected to participate in this prestigious program.

“We are elated to be selected for this honor,” said Dr. Joe Maluchnik, Turner Intermediate Principal. “We are grateful for the opportunity this affords our students.”

Disney Musicals in Schools is an initiative of The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust that develops sustainable musical theatre programs in Title I elementary schools. Schools selected to the program participate free of charge. The goals of Disney Musicals in Schools are to:

  • Create sustainable musical theatre programs in public elementary schools.
  • Provide school faculty with the training and tools necessary to support student performance and production, and to empower them to do so.
  • Develop a critical awareness and appreciation of the arts within the school.
  • Develop a strong community, including students, parents, faculty, staff and neighbors.
  • Expose students and school faculty to the wide spectrum of skills that are developed when producing a piece of musical theatre, including critical thinking, problem solving, ensemble building, communication, self-confidence, and interpersonal skills.

Mr. Shawn Van Mastrigt, Turner music teacher, along with Clarissa Stewart band director, and Saxon Angerret art teacher, applied for the program. Mr. Van Mastrigt said with the newly-renovated facilities at Turner, the time was right to consider introducing a theatre program. “Musical theater provides many opportunities for a variety of students,” he said. “Many of the students like to perform, but we have others who may be interested in set design, costumes, artwork and makeup. This opportunity will allow students to use their gifts and interests.”

Mr. Van Mastrigt said it has also been his experience that students who participate in the arts work hard, are committed to their art and work well with others.

Districts who are selected for the program must commit to at least three hours per week for rehearsal time, with 90 minutes of that time including teaching artists from the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Participating schools receive free performance rights to a 30-minute Disney KIDS musical of their choosing, valid for one year. They also receive free show kit materials, including a director’s guide, student scripts, rehearsal CDs, choreography and accompaniment.

At the culmination of the first year of the program, Turner will be expected to produce a 30-minute, public performance of a Disney KIDS musical involving students in grades 3-6. Mr. Van Mastrigt said the team was able to choose from eight Disney shows: 101 Dalmatians, Aladdin, The Aristocats, Frozen, The Jungle Book, The Lion King and Winnie the Pooh. Turner’s Theater Department selected The Jungle Book, an adaptation of the classic Disney animated feature The Jungle Book. Adapted especially for young viewers, The Jungle Book Kids features Disney musical favorites “The Bare Necessities” and “I Wan’na Be Like You.” The Jungle Book Kids is licensed by Music Theatre International, one of the world’s leading theatrical licensing agencies.

The musical will be performed at a date yet to be determined in May. Additional details about the cast and crew, scheduled show dates and ticket information will be provided at a later date. Students also will have the opportunity to perform a scene from their musical on stage at the Byham Theater on May 19, 2020.

Turner will continue to receive full support through the program for a period of three years.

“This is an incredible opportunity for our students.   As I have seen many times in my 25 years teaching in Wilkinsburg, our kids are capable of doing incredible things when given the opportunity.   I look forward to working with our teaching team, our students, and with The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, toward the creation of a theatre program that will thrive at Turner for years to come,” said Mr. Van Mastrigt.

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