WINNSBORO — Arts are coming alive in Fairfield County this March during the third annual Arts Alive! Festival.
Julieann Neal, coordinator of Visual and Performing Arts, said the festival showcases visual arts and performing arts classes.
On March 7, the Fairfield Middle School Musical Theatre classes and the FCHS Theatre Ensembles will present “One Day More,” with the theme of struggle and hardship. It shares the stories of Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman and includes excerpts from A Raisin in the Sun, The Piano Lesson and Les Miserables.
Neal was especially excited about the theatre performance because it is buoyed by the new musical theatre classes offered at Fairfield Middle School.
“This will be the first time that we have been able to offer a true district-level theatre event,” she said.
Working with a new middle school dance instructor has been advantageous as well. As part of the arts, a music concert will feature choral and instrumental music. Included will be a new multi-school elementary instrumental ensemble.
“The high school is featuring the first year of orchestra as well, so we are truly pleased with the growth of our arts program offerings,” Neal said.
The FCHS Theatre Ensemble will perform “Les Mis” in its entirety May 7 through May 9 as its annual spring production. Performances will be at 7 p.m. each night.
March has become the traditional time for the district to feature the arts, although arts instruction takes place all year long.
“Since March is Music in Our Schools Month, Youth Art Month and Theatre in Our Schools Month, it seemed the perfect time to hold this event,” Neal said. “We will feature visual art in both the Arts Alive! Show located in the lobby at Fairfield Central High School and the Youth Art Month Show at the District Office, as well as district level performances in theatre, dance and music.”
The students in the high school theatre classes auditioned in December and rehearsals began in January. Neal said she chose Les Mis last year when she had a feel for the talented group of students, particularly her seniors, that she would have going into this school year.
The play means a lot to her.
“I have a personal love for France and French history, beginning when I read the Victor Hugo classic Les Miserables in the seventh grade,” Neal said. “I taught French in Irmo for several years in the 1980s before coming to Fairfield, and during one of my student trips to Europe, I took my students to see the show in London. I have wanted to produce it here in Fairfield for years and just decided this year that we have the talent to pull it off.”
Calvin Johnson, a senior in the advanced performance troupe, has been cast in the role of Jean Valjean. Martin Hacker-Mullen, a new student to FCHS, will play his counterpart, Inspector Javert.
“The students have taken to the story and have been as excited about the project as I am. We will have a mini-orchestra, composed of several of the instrumental teachers and students in the district. We look forward to bringing the epic story to the FCHS stage,” Neal said.
The Arts Alive! Theatre performance this week will give the students a chance to run through some of the musical numbers on stage and it should whet the appetite of the audience to entice those people to come back and see the entire show in May.