Freeport High School student brings Broadway to the middle school

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FREEPORT — High school junior Sarah Pier has combined her love of Broadway with her ability to teach young actors and will direct a cast of middle school students in a musical next week.

Pier created a proposal, auditioned the actors, organized rehearsals and is directing “Honk! Jr.,” an adaptation of “The Ugly Duckling,” for a performance at Freeport Middle School on April 8. The play has no intermission, is a condensed Broadway show with fun characters and is age appropriate, she said.

Pier is active in the performing arts and said she enjoys working with children. She plays the piano and clarinet, sings, acts and performs in musical productions at the high school. In the summer, Pier works at a theater camp in Yarmouth and during the school year helps with musical productions at Mast Landing School.

Even though the middle school puts on a play each year, Pier said it is not a musical production.

“There is a three-year gap where students do not have the opportunity to be in a musical,” she said. “As a high school student I want to work with the kids at the middle school. I thought if I direct a musical I could fill the three-year gap and teach the kids. It fills both needs.”

Pier said since she is not playing a spring sport, she had the time to work on this project.

“In talking with my family at dinner one night, the idea to direct a play really grabbed me,” she said. “I started to figure out how to take that idea and make it my own.”

She wrote a proposal and talked to middle school Principal Ray Grogan about the idea. He suggested Pier work with Sara Davis, the middle school French teacher, who also advises the travel club. Together, they decided the ticket sales could benefit the travel club to raise money for an eighth-grade trip to Quebec City.

“Sarah has really done everything on her own,” Grogan said. “She researched the play and the scripts, held all the auditions and practices and coordinates the use of the building. It is very impressive.”

Overall, Pier said the rehearsals are going very well, but with a cast of 17 sixth-grade students and one eighth-grade student, the project is more challenging than she originally expected.

“This is difficult, but it is also fun and rewarding,” she said. “The kids are very enthusiastic and are all very talented.”

Pier said she is grateful for the support of her teachers, friends and family.

Bethany Watts, a high school junior, is helping to choreograph the dance routines and Pier’s younger sister Eli and her friends, high school freshmen Emma Egan, Katie McClelland, Abby LaTulippe and Fiona Harbert, are helping with set design and costumes.

Pier said Jessica Russell, the chorus teacher for the high school and middle school, and middle school band teacher Erin York have advised her along the way.

“I really enjoy working with the kids to put together something everyone is proud of,” she said. “The student’s hard work pays off, the parents are proud and it is wonderful to see them succeed on stage.”

While Pier is a fan of Broadway musicals and said the culture of theater intrigues her, she is unsure if this is her career path.

“It is a fun project to work on but I can’t say for certain if this is what I want to do,” she said. “For now, this is a great group of kids and I hope to have the opportunity to work with them again.”

The debut of “Honk! Jr.” at Freeport Middle School is on Friday, April 8, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 per person or $15 per family and all proceeds will benefit the middle school travel club.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @amy_k_anderson.

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Freeport High School junior Sarah Pier, left, is the director of a musical at the middle school. The cast will perform “Honk! Jr.” April 8 at 7 p.m. at the Freeport Middle School. Cast members include Olivia Watts, Isabelle McClelland, Abby Arruda, Jay Pier and Noah Brown.

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