Alumni celebrate the arts at opening of high school musical

Alumni celebrate the arts at opening of high school musical

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"A lot of costumes, lot of sets, lot of set changes, tap dancing. It's a very fun showing," said Bearden drama and musical theater teacher LeAnn Dixon. "A lot of costumes, lot of sets, lot of set changes, tap dancing. It's a very fun showing," said Bearden drama and musical theater teacher LeAnn Dixon.
Bearden High School alum came from all over Saturday night to see the high school's production of "Thoroughly Modern Millie" the Tony-Award winning musical of a small-town girl who starts a new life in New York City. Bearden High School alum came from all over Saturday night to see the high school's production of "Thoroughly Modern Millie" the Tony-Award winning musical of a small-town girl who starts a new life in New York City.
"It goes beyond what the core academics can teach you. Teamwork, leadership, professionalism, and artistic integrity. Those things are so important in life, they will take you so many places," said Jennifer Harber. "It goes beyond what the core academics can teach you. Teamwork, leadership, professionalism, and artistic integrity. Those things are so important in life, they will take you so many places," said Jennifer Harber.

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Education talk has been dominated recently by topics like common core standards and standardized testing.  

Often lost in the conversation are programs like art and music, with many scrambling to survive on smaller budgets.  

One high school in Knoxville has a thriving theater program, helping to shape the lives of current and former students.  

Many Bearden High School alum came from all over Saturday night to see the high school's production of "Thoroughly Modern Millie" the Tony-Award winning musical of a small-town girl who starts a new life in New York City.  

"A lot of costumes, lot of sets, lot of set changes, tap dancing. It's a very fun showing," said Bearden drama and musical theater teacher LeAnn Dixon.  

A sold out crowd of around 900 people attended the event.    

Bearden theater graduates filled the first few rows - some here from across the country to attend the school's annual alumni night.  

Jennifer Harber, a 2003 Bearden graduate, is part of the staging staff at the Chicago opera and has worked in opera groups all over the country.  

"It goes beyond what the core academics can teach you. Teamwork, leadership, professionalism, and artistic integrity. Those things are so important in life, they will take you so many places," said Harber.

Some Bearden theater alums have worked on Broadway.

Shamicka Benn-Moser, a 2000 BHS alum, is currently part of Broadway's "Chicago" musical. Natalee Louise McReynolds, 2007 BHS alum, is an opera singer who has performed throughout the United States, China and Austria.  

Dixon has taught drama and musical theater here for 17 years. She says the program offers real-world training not found in the classroom or a textbook.  

"There is no hypothetical situation that we're teaching to," said Dixon. "This is a real situation, so they feel the pressure of those demands."

Getting ready for the play involves every aspect of production: with more than 60 students, their parents, plus others in the community involved in lighting, sound and the orchestra.

The business crew handles publicity and communications, Bearden senior Samantha Arthur is in charge of the crew.  

"It's helped me to learn how to interact with other people really well and learn how to be a leader inside and outside of the classroom and I just enjoy it," Arthur said.  

One of tonight's stars was a 15-year-old freshman Anna Smith; she played the lead role of Millie Dillmount.  

The matinee will be Sunday 2:30 p.m. at Bearden High.  Residents of the Echo Ridge Retirement Home will be the special guests.

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