Prodigy - A New Musical
Mar 17, 2021 - Mar 21, 2021
The pandemic shut down or hampered many performing arts programs, but the Timbergriffen Theater Company at the Early College of Arvada has found creative ways to keep the arts alive in their community. The Early College of Arvada (ECA) offers up to two years of college credit to its students, most of whom will be the first in their family to go to college. Being a small school with many students on free and reduced lunch, ECA has always had to be creative with how it serves its students and the arts are no exception. The pandemic has not stopped this incredible school and its theater program from giving these students an outlet they desperately need, as well as providing excellent artistic experiences to its community!
Over the summer, they transformed their postponed performance of Noises Off into a completely virtual format and live streamed a single performance in June of 2020, reaching audiences across the country and setting an example for the high school theater community of what live streamed theater can look like during this time.
In November they embarked on their next project, their annual musical. The plan for this year’s show (prior to the pandemic) had always been Prodigy, a new musical by local author and composer Jenni Stafford, with music by Willem Oosthyusen. The show deals with mental health issues, particularly for artists. So when the pandemic hit, they knew that sharing this story about a young woman dealing with her past, depression, and identity as a musician, was all the more important to share during this time. Having already done a live streamed production over the summer, the Timbergriffen team had the idea to take Prodigy and turn the powerful story into a movie.
They have spent four months filming and recording, turning a church classroom into a living room, an ECA classroom into an apartment, and filming on location in the producer’s childhood bedroom and at the Bug Theater in Denver. The cast and crew is made up of students from the Early College of Arvada, the Pinnacle Charter school, and a homeschooler. They also had the opportunity to bring in two guest artists, Jack Tyler a Cu Boulder musical theater student, who’s also an ECA alumni, and Brandon Metoyer who has played a number of roles in Denver, Toby in the Equinox Theater Production of Sweeney Todd in 2019, Roy Wright in the award winning Vintage Theater production of Scottsboro Boys in 2020, and he participated in the Colorado New Musical Festival as part of the original cast of There Will Be Light in the summer of 2020. Brandon is also a recording artist, his work can be found under the name Ray Elle on Spotify.
The story circles around Emily (played by senior, Kaela Bredine & junior, Dominiqua Quesada), first as a teen trying to find what she’s good at and living in her prodigal father’s shadow and second as a grown woman who has followed in her father’s footsteps to become a professional cellist. As this non-linear story unfolds, we learn about the loss of her father, the struggles of her mother, and Emily’s personal struggles with relationships and depression. The story is uplifting overall, but does deal with incredibly difficult topics that some may find triggering.
Throughout the filming process the focus for the cast, crew, production team, and broader community has been to work on mental health skills and awareness during this trying time. In every email there was a mental health tip, one even inspired a student’s family member to take up song writing again! In Ms. Graham’s film class and with the Timbergriffen Thespian troupe they created a playlist of meditation scripts chosen, voiced, and edited by students and the Timbergriffen team, available for listening on their youtube channel. With each day of filming or rehearsal the team worked on safe space building and communication to both keep actors safe when dealing with such heavy content, but to also keep everyone safe from the virus.
This movie has been a labor of love, one that carries even more weight and meaning as we are hoping for a light at the end of the tunnel. Support the arts in our community by watching Prodigy, streaming for five performances via Booktix live March 17-21st. Get your ticket today at ecarvada.booktix.com (one ticket = one link for viewing as a family/household.) If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness or suicidal thoughts call 844-493-TALK (8255) or text Talk to 38255. Ask for help, because you matter.