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The Bronx Prep Performing Arts Academy offers 5th-12th grade students an intensive Performance Studies experience spanning speech, theater, musical theater, stagecraft, directing and more.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

This is What Student Leadership Looks Like


Congratulations to the middle school cast of "Annie Jr." and to the all-high-school team of directors, designers and crew members that made the show a smash success. All three performances were sold out and the final matinee was standing room only. 



This production proved what is possible when students take full responsibility for their own creative learning. Our crack team of 11th and 12th grade leaders took complete ownership of every element of the production, including direction, set design, costume design, lighting, sound, choreography, ticket sales, house management and more. They inspired a group of young--and in many cases first-time--performers to work together cooperatively, confront challenges, and solve problems in service of a common artistic goal. The result was a production bursting with freshness, spirit and integrity. This is what true student leadership looks like!

Check out production photos and reflections—both playful and poignant—from our student leaders and performers.

Lead Director Yamslee welcomes the audience


“I was backstage peeking out at my dad in the audience during scene 2 when Sharai sings 'Tomorrow.' When Tavan (the 7th grade boy playing Annie’s dog Sandy) started singing along with her unexpectedly, my dad was so surprised that he cracked up laughing. It was such a sweet moment.”

–Mavelyn Cruz, 7th Grade Performer (“Lily St. Regis”)

Annie and Sandy sing "Tomorrow" together!

"My favorite moment from the whole experience was when Ashley and I came into the theater carrying the big heavy stair unit we had brought over in a taxi van from the school. It was raining and we were wondering why no one had come out to help us carry it in. But then when we made our way into the theater, my jaw fell open. It was the first time I had seen "The Point" after the student leaders had renovated the space, set up the risers, built the set and learned to work the lighting system. The space looked like a professional theater. The reason why no one had realized we were outside was that the whole cast and crew were hard at work, everyone busily running from place to place, totally focused. It was an amazing moment." 

--Clementina Nyarko, 11th Grade Academy Leader (Blog team, Box office)


Warbucks talks to the president as Grace takes notes

"Watching the set crew members move set pieces on and off stage without reminders from me and seeing them checking up on each other was really gratifying to me." 

--Ashli Barnes, 11th Grade Academy Leader (Co-Stage Manager, Set Crew Lead)


Annie sings to the orphans


"Yesterday I reminded Sharai about making sure she had her note with her for Scene 1 and she told me that it kept falling out of her bra strap where we had been tucking it in. I didn't know where to put it because she had no pockets in her costume. I was really stressing out about this when Aminata came up and said, 'Why don't you just tighten her bra strap?' Duh! It was a funny, interesting moment for me because my problem was solved by a young actor that I was supposed to be helping, not vice versa. It reminded me that sometimes things that seem hard can really be solved in simple ways when you think about the problem differently."

--Shaquasia Harvey, 11th Grade Academy Leader (Lead Props Designer, Assistant Director)

"I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here!"


“When we were heading to 'The Point' in a cab from school with all of the props and costumes for the dress rehearsal, Jada accidentally left the suitcases we rented from the costume shop in the trunk and she had to run screaming after the cab to get them back. That was so funny. I’ll never forget that.”

--Nasir Hernandez, 5th Grade Performer (“Leiutenant Ward, FDR”)

Annie reluctantly packs her suitcases

"Every night when Warbucks sat on the steps towards the back and sang I would watch from backstage while setting up for the next scene. His voice always gave me chills."

--Ilana Garcia, 11th Grade Academy Leader (Assistant Director, Set Crew)

"You Won't Be an Orphan For Long"

"Costumes can be kind of a lonely job. At first I was in a bad mood the day of opening night, feeling cut-off from the other crew members who were working in bigger teams. At one point I actually crawled into the big laundry bin just to try to get a moment to myself. Jamej found me there and closed the heavy cover, joking with me that I was stuck there until my mood abated. Suddenly the cover shot open and Kadeem and Chris started tickling me. They didn't even ask what was wrong, they just collectively tried to make me feel bertter. It made me see those two in a different light and helped bring me back into a happy frame of mind."

--Ashley Lancaster, 12th Grade Academy Leader (Lead Costume Designer)


Miss Hannigan wows the crowd with "Little Girls"


"Being up in the lighting and sound booth, Bintou and I were able to watch the whole process from a distance and see the kids work through all the struggles and the hardships they had to face in order to get where they are now."

--Kadeem Penny, 11th Grade Academy Leader (Lead Sound Designer)

The whole cast celebrates Annie's adoption

"When we first started rehearsing 'Easy Street,' Fatoumata, Wilmer and Mavelyn despised the song to the point of refusing to practice it. I told them on the day of opening night that we didn't have to run it and my reverse psychology worked: suddenly they decided they desperately wanted to rehearse it. They worked solidly for hours. I was proud to watch them perform on opening night with so much love and energy for the song."

--Norberto Troncoso, 12th Grade Academy Leader (Assistant Director)


"Easy Street"

"My favorite teacher from 5th grade came to see the show. I didn’t know she was coming, but she surprised me and came to support me and gave me a gift. That made me feel amazing."

--Manuela Reyes, 8th Grade Performer (Mrs. Greer, Ensemble)"

Manuela and the ensemble dazzle in "NYC"


My favorite moment from yesterday was at the end of the show when all the student leaders came out on stage and sang 'Tomorrow' with the cast members. The audience members were singing along and I was so glad that everything had worked out so well. Then I looked out into the front row and saw a dad crying. I was moved because they were tears of joy and happiness. My feeling of accomplishment at that moment was overwhelming."

--Edison Hines, 11th grade Academy Leader (Assistant Director, Assistant Props Designer)


"The Sun'll Come Out Tomorrow"



Thanks to all those students, alumni, parents, teachers and administrators who supported this show. 

Special gratitude to Open Hydrant and the whole staff of "The Point"... 
Where Community and Creativity Connect!

And an extra special thank-you to Lou Cardenas for taking and sharing these beautiful pictures.





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