Mount Pleasant High School will “let it snow” next spring, as it’s the only school in Delaware to be awarded licensing rights to perform Disney’s “Frozen” on stage.
The school’s drama program will perform each night at 7 p.m. from March 30 through April 1. There will also be a matinee performance at 2 p.m. on April 1.
Fifty-one schools — one in each U.S. state and another in Germany — won production rights through a contest organized by the Educational Theatre Association, Disney Theatrical Group and Music Theatre International.
The contest, called “The United States of Frozen: Love as an Open Door,” evaluated three aspects of schools’ theater programs: diversity and inclusion, community outreach, and capacity to include a live orchestra as part of its production.
Mount Pleasant has the orchestra, and Chris Turner, the school’s drama director, said it has an amazing track record of inclusion, too.
“Our school is about 65% minority students,” Turner said. “We have one of the higher rates of kids within the LGBTQ community within our program and our theater program allows them to find their place and to find their voice.”
In terms of outreach, Turner said the school has always tried to make it a welcoming space for everyone.
“We don’t believe you have to be really into drama to want to participate in the production, and that’s everything from being onstage and backstage as well,” he said. “So we work very hard to market what we do to everyone within the community.”
Brian Drumbore, Mount Pleasant’s band director, said Disney provided a 21-piece orchestra score.
“Disney has been very gracious and has allowed us to sort of do whatever we want with the orchestra in terms of combining a couple of parts or reworking some parts,” Drumbore said.
Allowing for so much artistic liberty is unusual in the theatre world, he added.
“Normally when you sign on for an orchestra book, it’s against your license to combine parts into one, or separate parts out and other modifications.”
Disney’s also been flexible by not requiring the cast to wear specific costumes or have a specific set.
“They want you to make it their own, because in their minds, we are licensing the ability to do the work, not licensing the vision that the people have when they put it on Broadway,” Turner said. “They really want you to find your own interpretation of it.”
When Drumbore was growing up, people saw the stage crew as a place for people who failed to get an acting role.
Now, students line up to join stage crew, he said. Many of them are interested in the technical parts of the production, such as lighting, stage setup, sound control or costume design.
“They want to pursue technical careers in theater and giving those kids a true, bonafide experience to get that experience is a huge credit to what we do here at Mount Pleasant,” Drumbore said.
With an intermission, Drumbore expects the play’s runtime to be between two and three hours.
Casting auditions will be held in early December before students go home for the holiday break.
The cast will be set in early January with rehearsals beginning shortly thereafter.
The winning schools received rights for up to three performances of “Frozen,” which includes a video license and free access to the work’s digital script, score, and orchestrations.
Disney and Mount Pleasant have not settled on a price tag for the school’s fourth show, but Turner expects it to cost between $4,000 and $6,000.
“In any other given year, to put on a musical of the standard that we do can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000,” Turner said. “That’s covering the licensing rates for the show, any orchestra that we need to hire, set pieces, paint, costumes, any lights that we need to rent, any sound pieces that we need to rent, and more.”
Mount Pleasant frequently holds fundraisers for the productions, and Turner said every dollar that the school makes on ticket sales and concessions goes right back into the theater program.
Both Turner and Drumbore emphasized that Mount Pleasant’s theatrical productions are almost entirely student-led.
“One of the things that I think really amazes me every year is that everything in that production will be overseen and run by kids,” Drumbore said. “It’s a running joke in the show that as the orchestra conductor, I’m the only adult that actually is working the show.”
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
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