Mississippi School of the Arts students awe spectators with talent

Published 6:00 am Monday, December 8, 2003

Drama and song filled the air outside and in as students of theMississippi School of the Arts presented their first publicexhibition of theater, vocal and visual talents Saturdayafternoon.

Saturday was originally planned to be a parent’s day, but “we’rea part of the community. We have host families and they’re part ofthe community, so today was a way to celebrate what the kids havelearned and share it with the community,” said Dr. VickiBodenhamer, executive director of the arts school.

Lasting from 1-4 p.m., Saturday’s exhibition featured threedrama performances — “each taken from plays representing the firstthree ages of theater,” according to a brochure –spread among a45-minute chorale concert and a half hour for public viewing ofvisual artwork.

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“I’m excited. I like to perform in front of people. It’s a lotof fun,” said student Marcus Roberts before his drama performance.Roberts had parts in two of the plays.

The day began with a scene from Electra, a drama bySophocles. Performed outside, spectators filled the Student LifeCenter patio and overhead walkway as drama major studentsflawlessly recited their lines and projected their voices in truetheater fashion.

Everyone was then ushered into Mary Jane Lampton Auditorium.Having practiced for three months, the school’s choral department,consisting of 13 girls and two boys, impressed teachers andspectators alike with their vocal talent.

A standing ovation from the crowd punctuated the performance,and the two boys in the choir surprised conductor Susan Smith witha bouquet of flowers.

“The students have come so far in what they have learned,” Smithsaid to the crowd, adding that she was thankful to the communityfor it’s support. “They’ve done things college choirs do.”

Brad Johnson, director of the Co-Lin choir, agreed.

“(The concert) was very good,” he said.

“It was fabulous,” said choir member Meg Dennis. “We have a goodteacher. When we first started practices, we were half flat, halfsharp.”

“I’m very proud of the students,” Smith said. “For only 15 ofthem, they sound as good as a 50-voice choir.”

The crowd then shuffled back outside to see a short excerpt fromthe medieval-era play Everyman on the steps of the Cooperbuilding before going into the halls of Johnson Institute to viewexhibitions of visual art students’ work.

Students showed parents and friends their paintings, sketches,and the occasional sculpture with explanations of how each workcame into being.

“I like working with oil pastels,” said Katie Drummonds ofClinton. She said that each visual arts student had four or fivepieces of work on display, which the teacher would select. “I havetwo pieces on display that I’m particularly proud of.”

Art teacher Anne O’Hara explained that she gives instruction tostudents designed to foster their creativity.

Megan Tussey stood by her foot-high sculpture crafted out ofposterboard and explained it to passersby, saying she was inspiredby watching her brother do cartwheels.

The drama team wrapped up the day with an entertaining excerptof the play Doctor Faustus, which used both live actingand crafted hand-puppets.

Langston Darby, who played the main character, said that theentire play was put together in four weeks time, and a lot ofpractice.

“(The dramas) were exciting,” said Marcus Roberts’s mother,Felicia, adding that she was impressed with the students’talent.