PALMER — Colony Middle School students are eager to present Disney’s “Moana JR” to the public this weekend.

Eighth-grade student, Sarah Alvarado plays the part of Moana. She said it’s nerve-racking but equally exciting to be at this point. She said that she made a lot of friends working on this production.

“I just think it’s so much fun,” Alvarado said.

Alvarado has participated in several plays prior to “Moana,” but this is her first time in a lead role. She said it’s been an enjoyable after-school experience that she learned a lot from, and she plans to keep acting through high school.

“A lot of life lessons, Mr. Lambert is hard on those,” Alvarado said with a laugh.

Flint Burton plays Maui and is currently in eighth grade. He said that he’s done prior school plays like “Frozen JR” when he was in sixth grade, and he also plans to keep acting when he gets to high school.

“It’s a lot of teamwork,” Burton said.

CMS 8th grader social studies teacher Ben Wargo is directing ‘Moana JR,’ working alongside Music and Drama teacher, Tobias Lambert to make this production happen.

“It works well. I think we both bring our own strengths to this,” Lambert said.

Lambert said they held two virtual shows during the pandemic, but this is their first live show since it all started.

“This is a year of rebuilding,” Lambert said. “Basically, the arts in general, have been getting hammered, but it’s pretty much a rebuilding across the board.”

Wargo said there’s a lot of different aspects to this play. He said that working with three different languages for the songs was one of the most challenging components to work with, but the students were able to rise to the occasion.

“I think it’s going fantastically,” Wargo said. “The kids have stepped up a lot the last couple of weeks they’ve grown a lot.”

Wargo said that wrangling the students and trying to keep their momentum going on top of the various restrictions caused by the pandemic was a particularly interesting challenge to overcome, but he said the students made great progress once they buckled down and got that momentum going, ultimately coming together and taking ownership of the play.

“I’m just so proud of them,” Wargo said. “Because of the product, because if what kids get out of this. There are ways they grow doing a show they’re not going to grow in any other way. Just look at the product it’s awesome. It’s nice to give these kids the opportunity... There are so many things they learn in the theater that they can’t get in other ways.” 

Lambert said they plan to put on another show in the spring and he’s starting a theater class next semester.

“The drama department is still pretty vibrant with everything that’s going on. We’ve been able to maintain as much as possible,” Lambert said.

For more information, call 907-761-1500 or 907-761-1517.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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