By Matt Johnson
Editor's note: Stories in this student-led Outlook series highlight the distinctive summer experiences of students and faculty from across the academic spectrum. This story will also appear in a new all-digital edition of the alumni magazine, Ohio Today. The digital magazine will debut in October.
This past summer, senior education major Matt Johnson served as music director for a new play, "Cinderella: A Hip-Hop Fairy Tale," which was performed by the Columbus Children's Theatre. Johnson wrote the script, lyrics and music for the play in the spring. Here, Johnson describes his journey from auditions through the show's sold-out run in August.
We auditioned 35 kids, ages 10-16, and we decided to keep them all. There were roles for everybody, and what we wanted to do for the summer was make it a workshop experience for the children. We were going to teach them aspects of theater -- how to audition, how to learn songs, acting advice and different things -- to make them better actors, singers and dancers, and just better people in general.
We had a month to rehearse, and we started the stage production in August. We moved quickly. After we started rehearsals, I had to rewrite the play almost in its entirety because it was too long.
I wasn't really prepared for that. It turned out OK, and the kids needed to adapt. That was something they needed to learn throughout the summer. Adaptability is definitely important.
Once we started the actual performances, it was just something I totally didn't expect. Before we even opened, we sold out three shows out of our 12-show run. It was just the anticipation of something new that people were interested in. Once we opened, all hell broke loose. It was unbelievable. Within two days, we sold out our entire run! It was mind-blowing. We added a 13th encore show because there were so many people who wanted tickets, and we were sold out -- again. As soon as we (advertised it), it sold out. It was insane!
We got great reviews. Theatrevault.com gave us a review. It had a couple of criticisms, which I agreed with, but overall the review was very positive, and the public reception was very positive.
We had some hiccups. Even in the performances we had some things go wrong, but overall the experience was wonderful. The kids really enjoyed the experience.
Additional reporting provided by Beth Lipton.