by Nicolette Navarro
I have always been a lover of theatre. I went to my first Broadway show when I was five and saw Beauty and the Beast. I was mesmerized by the Beast’s transformation and have wanted to do or be involved with theatre since. Theatre was my safe haven in school. It’s the place where I met my friends, felt inspiration, and found my tribe. I have acted, stage managed, run lights, but nothing has made me feel as great as directing a musical for adults or for children.
I am an English teacher who directs on the side. When directing a show I want everyone to feel included and have a chance to shine, and get one step closer to their own dreams. Even though I’m a sucker for a good classical musical, I tend to do contemporary Broadway shows. It’s what my students like to do, and audiences can see something new and see a show that their child loves. I directed Legally Blonde. It was my most challenging show, but it was extremely satisfying.
The auditions and callbacks were grueling. We had students singing, dancing, acting, and jump-roping for parts. Everyone wanted Elle Woods, but my favorite thing about this show is everyone has a chance to shine. I do not cast based on seniority, I truly believe that whoever fits the role best should get the part. When the cast list came out, I had several angry students who wanted Elle or Emmett or who were upset because I didn’t give students the part they wanted because they were a senior. I want my students to understand that sometimes life isn’t fair and you don’t always get exactly what you want, but to make the most out of what you have.
Rehearsals were a different story, when students realize that each of them has a special moment in the show be it a dance spotlight, a solo, a few lines. Students came around and really embraced their parts. I tried to direct the show to be fun, and let students be in numbers that made sense for them to be in. I also wanted students to bring their ideas to the table about their characters. My favorite difference from the Broadway staging to my production was the number “Blood in the Water” became a tap number because the student playing Callahan was a tap dancer and he was really into it. I said yes, and it turned into one of the best numbers of the show. I want my students to be creative and really show off their personality in whatever show they are in.
These are skills that are important in theatre and also in life. To my students, theatre is everything. It’s what they love, and as an educator it is my job make sure to tie life lessons into what they love.