The future of performing arts at Saint Stephen’s

The Lion King Jr. comes to the Falcon Playhouse from March 16-19. And a new performing arts center is on the horizon.

Kassandra Haakman, Contributing Writer Contributing Writer

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Performing arts is a huge part of the culture at Saint Stephen’s, and there are many ways for outgoing, theatrical, or musical students to express themselves. Students of all ages can participate in different arts and music classes across the school, such as drama, improv, band, and choir.  However, there are also many other extracurriculars where students who don’t take these classes can take part in the arts.

For a long time, one of the biggest events of the year has been the all-school musical, which was run and directed by Mr. Boyd for many years. The all-school musical was a huge production that included all the grades, both on the stage and behind it. These students worked hard for months to put on productions that were loved by the huge audiences. Mr. Boyd retired in 2014, but fortunately, Mrs. Elisha took up the reins to run the school musical.

When Mrs. Elisha took the lead, she made some innovative changes. Instead of having an all-school, pre-k to grade 12 musical, we now have two individual shows, one put on by the lower and intermediate school and the other reserved for the middle and upper school. This way, younger Falcons have the opportunity to shine in larger roles instead of acting as smaller characters in the big play.

This year, the middle and upper school play is going to be The Lion King Jr. Mrs. Elisha has been working hard with the student cast five days a week, from 4:45-6:15pm, to prepare for the production, which will show from March 16-19 in the Falcon Playhouse.

The cast and crew are putting together an amazing performance this year, with a beautifully designed set, fun music, and exciting choreography. This year’s production is sure to top previous shows. The audience can look forward to an enjoyable experience.

While the production of the musical is something to look forward to, there are even more additions coming up in Saint Stephen’s performing arts. Right now, the the school is planning the construction of a new Performing Arts Center, across the street from Christ Church, on 41st street. I spoke with Dr. Pullen to get the full picture of where this project is going and what we can expect in the future.

According to Dr. Pullen, the first two steps of the building process have already been complete: coming up with an idea and getting the property.

The school already has the design of the new building planned out. It will have a raised stage that will be visible from anywhere below, so that all seats have an optimal view point. The building will also be equipped for any type of event, and it will be able to hold 700 people with just chairs or 400 people with chairs and tables. Tables for events can be set up quickly when they are needed and stored away when they are not.

The school got the inspiration for the design from the performing arts center at St. Mary’s Episcopal School, in Tampa. The second step toward completion was obtaining the property. SSES made a deal with Christ Church in order to make this happen. Christ Church promised to provide the land needed for the new building if Saint Stephen’s would build a thrift shop and food pantry, first.

There are, as always, a few hiccups in the process. In order for the school to build a thrift shop where it is planned to be, the land needs to be annexed into the city from the county. Also, the school needs to find an architect to draw up the final plans for the performing arts center and a builder. This is planned to be completed within the next 6-8 months.

Once all of the planning is completed, the school will need to raise money to pay for the construction of the building. Once the money is gathered, construction on the building will be able to begin.

There are many variables involved with the process of getting to construction, but the building is planned to be completed within 2-3 years. This is a very important prospect for our school for many reasons. One is that this building is the last thing left on the current master site plan for the school. Everything else from that plan has already been built, including the middle school building and the new athletic complex.

Another exciting aspect of the new building is the opportunity it will provide for performing arts students at this school. For a long time, most student performances have been put on in the gym, which has been converted into a makeshift theater for these events. Once the new performing arts center is built, students will have the opportunity to perform in a real theater.

In Dr. Pullen’s words, “We have many talented children at all grade levels at the school and they deserve to have the appropriate space, with proper lighting, sound and seating to perform.”

In conclusion, Saint Stephen’s students have many things to look forward to in the future. In the immediate future, students can look forward to the production of this year’s middle school/upper school musical, The Lion King, while students looking farther into the future can look forward to the exciting prospect of a new performing arts center within the next few years.

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