GOWANDA – Disney’s “Winnie the Pooh KIDS,” a heart-warming musical production based on the classic characters of A.A. Milne and the 2011 Disney animated feature film, will be presented by Gowanda Middle School students in May.

This musical theatre experience appropriate for all ages showcases favorite songs including, “Winnie the Pooh” and “The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers,” as well as new music written by Robert and Kristen Lopez, the couple that brought us all of the music from Disney’s “Frozen” series.

Our 30-minute adventure begins in the Hundred Acre Woods where Winnie the Pooh is once again on the hunt for his favorite snack – honey! As he continues to search, he meets up with his good friends, Tigger, Piglet, Rabbit, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo and Owl. The friends soon discover Christopher Robin has been captured by a mysterious creature, named The Backson! Getting ready to save their friend, the animals learn valuable lessons about teamwork, dedication and the importance of friendship.

Preparations for this musical theatre experience are in full swing at GMS. Volunteers are busy making costumes, creating honey jars and other props, as well as building the Hundred Acre Wood. The music rooms, classrooms, auditorium and hallways have also been alive with lines, lyrics and choreography these past few weeks in preparation for the upcoming show. The middle school performers are excited to share the happiness and joy that is sure to come with this musical to families and community members in this time of difficulty and uncertainty.

“Throughout this pandemic, everyone, myself included, has gone through a time where they have felt alone, distant and disconnected from everyone,” says teacher and musical director Adam Bett. “When choosing the show for this year, I wanted one that featured the talent we have in our program but as well as one that would help to begin to heal and bring our Gowanda community together. Since EVERYONE knows and grew up with the beloved characters of the Hundred Acre Wood, this show was perfect to bring us all together!”

Bett can’t wait for the community and families to see the results of the students’ hard work and dedication during these trying times.

“These students have not only managed to successfully navigate all of their remote school responsibilities, but have also stayed positive role models in the classrooms,” says Bett. “To say they have a lot on their plates would be an understatement. With not having a live audience this year, plus the logistics of keeping all of our cast and crew safe during this pandemic, this musical experience has provided us with many unique challenges we have never encountered, which include reduced amount of rehearsals due to lack of transportation, professionally recording the audio and video of the entire show separately, the need for simple costumes that can be easily put on without dressing rooms, and lastly, the need for every actor to be masked at all times. Our team has faced these challenges head on, working intensely to put on the best musical experience for our students and community that we can.”

Principal Todd Miklas pointed out the tremendous energy level of students involved with the musical experience.

“For those involved, their commitment has been extensive in the hours each student and staff member have dedicated to making sure this is the best performance to date,” says Miklas. “It is great seeing their smiles and enthusiasm as they head on down to practice. I continue to be impressed with our student’s pride in our school and the opportunities and activities that they have available to them, such as the musical. Truly, the key here is Mr. Bett and how he builds up the production, launches it, organizes it, communicates all the particulars, and simply directs many, many moving components from within the production to external, in simply making things come together; absolutely amazing work by this passionate educator.”

“Winnie the Pooh Kids” will be streamed exclusively online Tuesday, May 25, and Thursday, May 27, at 7 p.m. (The same recording will be streamed both nights.) Virtual attendees are encouraged to think of it as going to the movie theater. The production will promptly begin at 7 p.m. and continue until it is finished. Unfortunately, there is no option to rewind or go back if families join late.

To help bring families together, “Family Tickets” will be sold this year for $10 and will give your family access to view the production on one device with as many people in your immediate family as you wish. If you want or need to view the production on multiple devices, you may purchase as many tickets as needed. Please keep the health and safety of your family in mind when purchasing tickets.

These “Family Tickets” will be available to purchase two weeks prior to the event on www.showtix4u.com/events/pooh. This link is also posted on Gowanda Central School District’s Facebook page for easy purchasing. Mr. Bett will also be hosting a “Curtain Up Facebook Live” event 30 minutes before the production on May 25 to talk about the production and recognize the 8th-grade actors who will be performing in the last musical of their middle school careers.

CAST & CREW INFO

Performing the roles of the “Beavers” include Jayden Fish, Richard Kuras, Delia Mohawk and Alana Muenzer. Mallory Berndt, Corrine Burch and Jenna Luther are “Blue Birds” and Robert Dalimonte, Kaylen Farner, Nate Hooper and Summer Satterfield will be taking on the roles of “Frogs.” Kiera Brockhaus, Kory Degenfelder, Leah Hull and Kyra-mae Hurley will be “Mice” and rounding out the Forest Animals are Molly Mettker, Isabella DeGolier, Amelia Pickering and Taylor Yoder as “White Rabbits.”

Taking on the roles as “Bumblebees” include, Zoe Bartlett, Mackenzie Breedlove, Jackson Cook, Envy Cross, Aiden Geiger, Logan Goddard, Sullivan Griffith, Jude Hales, Zander Hammond, Jarek Howard, Logan Kehr, Jaden Knopf, Diana Kuhs, Tristan Luther, Bella Maines, Myeigh Peck, Addison Phair and Laniyah Twoguns.

Singing and dancing the roles of the “Honey Bees” include, Grant Berry, Sophia Birchnall, Aidan Carroll, Brielle Crowell, Jaxon Hagan, Emjay Jaskowiak, Trinity Long, Jaden McKeever, Elisia Mullen, Tauni Ondus, Drew Reid, Raelin Smith, Dresden Spire, Taylor Tussing, Cameron Utley, Kaela Van Note, Karlah-Jane Walker, Gavin Whicher, Rylee Yasurek and Haydon Zwierzchowski.

The Woodland Creatures in this performance include Cadence Luther, Malayna Pawlak and Ayla Sullivan as “Cardinals,” Kyan Austin, Drew Kota and Eliza Pound as “Chipmunks and Titus Beaver, Savannah Smith and Jameson Willett as “Raccoons.” The “Skunks” will be played by Landen Bednarek, Maddox Hudson, Will Tighe and J.J Whipple while the “Yellow Rabbits” will be performed by Jaycee Bailey, Damien Cedri, Porter Lempke and Aubrey Smuda.

The narrators for this year’s musical theatre experience are Aiden Carroll, Alyssa Ruzycki, Ben Latimore, Chris Muntz, Molly Booth, Patsey Griffith, Kiki Moses, Arianna Wolf and Isabelle Graham. Helena Wallschlager will be performing the role of “Queen Honey Bee” while Emma Golden will be “Queen Bumblebee.” Singing and performing the roles of “Rainbow Chorus” include Hayleigh Hooper, Sara Lillie, Cynthia Schukraft and Maddison Smith.

Feature roles include, McKoy Luce as “Christpher Robin,” Danielle Krajewski as “Eeyore,” Lauren Kelley as “Kanga” and Caitlyn Gangi as “Owl” Colton Davis will be playing “Piglet” while Sydney Smith plays “Rabbit.” “Roo” will be performed by Jocelyn Schuster while Alyssa Golden plays “Tigger.” Rounding out the featured cast includes Chase Bolen as “Winnie the Pooh” and Weston Bolen as “Pooh’s Tummy.” The always entertaining Mr. Todd Miklas and Mr. David Smith perform the roles of the “Heffalump Brothers.”


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