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Amalgamated students offer heartfelt staging of Frozen Jr., for Mr. Morgan’s swansong

By Olivia Bradbury / Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Amalgamated Academy in Bay Roberts last week put on its first musical production in over four years. With seven shows in all, the run was a significant and exciting one for staff, students, and audience members alike. Some 86 students, teachers and volunteers were involved in the production, including director Corey Morgan, music director and choreographer Sherry Crowley, assistant musical director Jennifer Hart. The students were drawn from Grades 4 to 9.

Assistant music director Jennifer Hart, music director and choreographer Sherry Crowley, and director Corey Morgan.

The play they staged was Frozen Jr., based on the Disney film Frozen. Much of its dialogue and songs came from the movie, but there are also scenes, lines, and musical numbers unique to the play.

“The songs are a little bit different, and the storyline is just a little bit shorter, but in terms of sticking to the plot of the original movie, it is exactly Frozen,” said Emily Sceviour, the play’s head of props.

Frozen Jr. was originally going to be produced in 2020, but due to the pandemic it was cancelled.

“We had a cast ready to go to rehearsal, and we had to stop it due to COVID. And then we came back, and COVID was still an issue. And so, we finally got it on the go this year,” said director Morgan.

Planning for this production started last September with acting and singing rehearsals gearing up after Easter.

“We had costumes bought back then, we were purchasing things for the actors, and now we had actors of different sizes,” said Morgan.

That meant the purchasing of new costumes and altering of the old ones. Some costumes were acquired from the Arts and Culture Center, others through Amazon, and some even from assistant director Crowley’s mother-in-law. “It’s been challenging and sometimes disappointing,” said Morgan, “but we’re here now.”
This is Morgan’s 29th and a half year teaching. He has directed four other musical productions during his years at Amalgamated Academy: Alice in Wonderland, Beauty and the Beast Jr, Aladdin Jr., and The Lion King Jr. This production of Frozen Jr., is his fifth and final show at the school.

“I’ll be retiring soon. We do one every two years, but COVID fooled that up. So it worked out now that this is my last,” Morgan said.
Several of the students cited Morgan’s previous plays or the man himself as the reason they joined this cast.

“Honestly, it was the shows. I used to watch them when I was a kid,” said Grade 9 student Hilary Crane, who played Elsa, her first lead role. “There was one specifically, an Aladdin show, I came to see, and it really sparked an interest.”

Hilary Crane of Amalgamated Academy in Bay Roberts hits a high note during the school’s production of Frozen Jr., last week. The musical production is the last one for director Corey Morgan, who is retiring after 30 years at the school. For the full story and more pictures, see page 13. Photo courtesy of Christina Cox.

For Grade 8 student Smith Brockway, who played Hans, it was his first time in theater. Mr. Morgan, who teaches language arts, had asked his class if anyone would like to be in the show, adding they would receive extra marks. Brockway decided to try out and landed one of the lead roles.

It was also the first experience with theater for Cian Dawson, another Grade 8 student. “Mr. Morgan just came up to me, asked me if I possibly wanted to try. I’m like, why not, just for a bit of fun, and I actually got the role that I wanted,” said Dawson, who played Olaf the snowman. In the play, Olaf was a puppet who Dawson both voiced and controlled.

Grade 9 student Paige Morgan, who played Anna, and who also happens to be Morgan’s daughter, said the best part for her was “getting to meet other people and getting closer with people that I do know.”

Paige Morgan (playing Anna) and Smith Brockway (playing Hans) during the musical number Love is an Open Door

For Grade 9 student Damien Mugford, the play was a chance to step outside his comfort zone. “I actually don’t like being in front of a bunch of people, so this has been helping with that,” Mugford said.

For some of the students, the stage experience seems to have whetted an interest in continuing with theatre when they move on to junior high and high school.
Olivia Penny, whose performance as Bulda was her first time in theater, will be part of the ensemble in Best Kind Productions’ Frozen this summer. Cooper Anderson, who played a guard and nominated his friend Damien Mugford to play one as well, hopes it may lead to other roles. “I wish to be on the big screen,” said Anderson.

Cara Collins and Olivia Penny (Pabbie and Bulda) pose in costume.

The hustle and bustle backstage meanwhile, made evident just how invested the students were in the production. Between donning costumes and practicing scenes, handing out programs, and even getting autographs from each other, it was clear the students were giving it their all. For those in Grade 9, Thursday night’s show marked the last time they would ever perform as part of Amalgamated Academy. Many tears were shed before and after the play.

The audience of parents and relatives were equally affected. There was a large turnout for the closing night, with people lining up outside the school’s front doors more than an hour in advance of the curtain call. When the final number of Frozen Jr., concluded, it was met with a heart melting standing ovation.

The cast of Amalgamated Academy’s production of Frozen Jr.,gets ready for a final bow at the end of last week’s seven show run. Olivia Bradbury photo

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