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Jenks Gazette

Jenks High School Premieres ‘Hunchback’

Contributing Writer

AN IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE: Jenks students perform The Hunchback of Notre Dame in March at Jenks’ Performing Arts Center. The show was directed by Jenks alum Michael Fling and featured immersive theater, a technique that is growing in popularity across the country.

Courtesy Littlefield Communication

In March, the Jenks Vocal Music Program brought a new kind of theater to Jenks when it presented The Hunchback of Notre Dame at the Jenks High School Performing Arts Center.

The production featured 77 students from Jenks High School onstage, another 60 in a variety of technical production roles and an additional 21 joining them to play in the orchestra.

“The style of this show is unlike any other musical Jenks has ever produced before,” says Director Michael Fling, a 2011 Jenks graduate. “The ensemble is a Greek chorus that narrates the story to the audience and guides the journey through the epic story. Jenks’ Hunchback is an immersive piece of musical theatre.

“The stage will extend into the auditorium, with actors performing all around the audience. This technique is a groundbreaking and contemporary approach to theatre that Jenks Vocal Music is proud to create, explore and share with our students, their families and the community at large.”

This was the musical’s Oklahoma premiere, and Jenks Vocal Music is among the first groups in the country to be granted permission to stage this brand new musical adaptation of the classic Disney film and Victor Hugo novel, notes Fling.

Music for the production was created by Alan Menken (Beauty & the Beast, The Little Mermaid), lyrics by Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell, & Pippin) and the book by Peter Parnell (The West Wing).

Fling is a New-York-City-based musical theatre director who returned to Jenks to direct this production. Fling also directed The Wizard of Oz, presented in spring 2017.

He holds a directing degree from Webster University in St. Louis. His goal is to become a Broadway play director.

Fling was excited to bring the epic story to life, he says, and is appreciative of Jenks’ dedication to the arts as a part of education.

“It’s cool to be doing experimental theater in high school in the middle of Oklahoma,” he says.

“When public school funding is cut, the arts are always the first to go, but Jenks has had the opposite reaction. Instead of focusing on STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), Jenks is talking about STEAM, which includes the arts.”

Updated 03-22-2018

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