Co-op arts school sets musical

Published 10:15 pm Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Students at Renaissance School of the Arts will turn up the volume this week as they perform “Rock around the Block.”

Students will don their poodle skirts and blazers to perform the musical at Ebenezer United Methodist Church Thursday and Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Tickets will be available at the door.

The school is a cooperative that offers a variety of classes, ranging from arts to physical education, and meets once a week. While the school has a strong base of homeschooled students, pupils from traditional schools also attend classes there.

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Renaissance has been in operation for the past six years; “Rock around the Block” will be its third play.

Nearly 25 students, ages 11 to 17, are participating in this year’s play; some have experience in commercials, movies and community theatre.

“We have a talented group of students,” said Gail Barker, director of the musical and co-founder of the school. “They’ve really been able to take the play and run with it.”

Students are in charge of the play from top to bottom.

“We try to put as many students in leadership positions as possible,” Barker said. “We have students in assistant director, stage and tech positions.”

Doing so teaches them responsibility and gives them the skills they’d need in a future career, Barker said.

“Being on the stage and involved in the arts also gives the students experience speaking and presenting in front of a crowd,” Barker said. “There are a lot of fears that can come with public speaking, but this is a fun way to breach that and learn a skill in that will transfer to their future career.”

Students have been working on the “Grease”-inspired musical since January and are looking forward to presenting the production.

“It’s an entertaining story with entertaining characters added in,” said Allison Rockswold, an actress in the play who has taken two years of voice lessons. “It’s been a good learning environment, and hopefully everyone will enjoy the show. We’ve had fun.”