Apple Tree Arts presents ‘Rock Star Theatre’ May 15

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Matt Mariner. Photo/submitted

Grafton – Enjoy an evening filled with singing, dancing and acting at Apple Tree Arts musical performance, “Rock Star Theatre” Monday, May 15, at 7 p.m., in the Great Hall, One Grafton Common. The free night of entertainment features students ages 9 to 13.

“The 12 students selected five of their favorite songs to feature in the review, created and chose the characters they wanted to portray and then wrote story lines about them,” explained teacher and director Matt Mariner.

For the first few classes of the 15-week session they listened to music and decided together the popular and rock ‘n’ roll music to use for the show, according to Mariner.

Mariner suggested the theme focus on a talent competition called “Star Quest.” The class formed three groups of four students who wrote the script collaboratively for each scene.

“The script worked out well with a random mix of parts including a host, contestants, judges and a parent of one contestant. I took the scenes home and made sure they flowed together and brought it back to the class, then we started rehearsals,” he said.

Actors have rehearsed for the past eight weeks under his direction.

“I was surprised how students took leadership roles to create new scenes on their own and do the choreography. They have so much passion and interest. They worked independently between the scheduled class times and even now are still adding new material to the show,” Mariner said.

Students have helped with props and costumes, too.

The music selections include popular music and rock ‘n’ roll. There are two large ensemble numbers and three songs are performed by small groups with about three to four soloists in each one.

Cast members include Sabina Gill, Mia Iacuzio, Caelan Laverty, Jack Miller, Hannah O’Grady, Rowan Paulman, Dylan Rowe, Vinuji Senasinghe, Marley Shaw, Carly Simpson, Grace Trahan and Olivia Trahan.

Apple Tree Arts offered the class in January of this year after meeting with Mariner and discussing his interest in wanting to integrate popular music with a theatre arts program.

“I have been brainstorming this idea for about a year. I want to see theatre music evolve more into the mainstream. In the 20s, 30s and 40s, Broadway show music was more integrated with the music of the time. Broadway tunes were played by radio stations and were popular. It’s changing a bit now with Broadway musicals like ‘Hamilton,’” he explained.

Mariner graduated from Assumption College where he studied theatre arts and psychology. He taught, acted and directed improv at the Milford Performance Arts Center for seven years. Mariner has a keen interest in people’s ability for self-expression thru improvisation and theatre arts.

Apple Tree Arts plans to offer the Rock Star Theatre program again in the fall of 2017.

For more information, visit www.appletreearts.org.