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Students become composers, lyricists, writers in Musical Theater Company

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BERKELEY HEIGHTS—Over the past few months, students in the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts (WIPA) Musical Theater Company have been writing their own full length musical using stories from the Grimm Brothers to be showcased in two performances on June 9 in Wharton’s black box theatre. With the help of instructors Timothy Maureen Cole and David Seamon, the cast is using fairy tales to create an original story, script, and songs.

The Company show takes place on Saturday, June 9 at 3:00 and 6:00 p.m. at 60 Locust Avenue in Berkeley Heights. Tickets are $10, available at the door or by calling 908-790-0700.

The Musical Theater Company is a 27-week course where students ages 10-15 explore storytelling through acting, singing, and movement. This year marks the Company's third season and first endeavor in writing their own musical from start to finish. 

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Says Musical Theater Arts Director Timothy Maureen Cole, “It has been very rewarding for everyone involved to go through the creative process of writing a musical. At the beginning of the course, it was obivous that students were a little shy to give input about the story’s plotline or what a melody should sound like for a new song in class. Many weeks later and those same students are excited to share opinions and have them reflected in our story!”

Adds Cole, “Most students are accustomed to being given a role and memorizing a script, but this class is so much more. The students are learning to work together to create something brand new. At the end of the process, they can look at this show and say ‘I made that.’ It's incredible.”

Timothy Maureen Cole holds a Master of Music degree in Voice Performance and Pedagogy from Westminster Choir College and a Bachelor of Music degree in Voice Performance from Ithaca College, and has been teaching voice, music theater, and piano since 2007.  She holds certification in Early Childhood Music Education from Kindermusik International, and is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing.  In addition to private and group instruction, Cole has collegiate teaching experience at Horry Georgetown Technical College and James Madison University. She has extensive performance experience in classical and musical theater repertoire.  Recent productions include La Boheme (Mimi), Le Nozze Di Figaro (Countess), Wilde’s Wild West (Frenchie), Aics and Galatea (Damon), Elixir of Love (Adina), Cask of Amontillado, The Tell-Tale Heart, and Scarlatti’s La Giuditta (Giuditta).  Favorite Music Theater performances include: Kiss Me Kate (Kate), Anything Goes (Reno), You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown (Sally), Once Upon A Mattress, and My Favorite Year.

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The Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts’ mission is to provide the highest quality performing arts education to a wide range of students in a supportive and inclusive environment, where striving for personal excellence inspires and connects those we teach to the communities we serve.

Wharton is New Jersey’s largest independent non-profit community performing arts education center serving over 1,400 students through a range of classes and ensembles including the 14 ensembles of the New Jersey Youth Symphony which serve 500 students in grades 3 - 12. Beginning with Early Childhood music classes for infants and toddlers, WIPA offers private lessons, group classes and ensembles for all ages and all abilities. We believe in the positive and unifying influence of music and the performing arts and believe that arts education should be accessible to all people regardless of their ability to pay. We teach all instruments and voice and have a robust musical theatre program.

The Based in Paterson, New Jersey, the Paterson Music Project (PMP) is an El Sistema-inspired program of the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts that uses music as a vehicle for social change by empowering and inspiring children through the community experience of ensemble learning and playing. PMP provides intensive, low-tuition musical training to students throughout Paterson after school as well as a Saturday Community Music Program which includes a city-wide orchestra, intergenerational choir, and an Afro-Fusion percussion ensemble. PMP now serves almost 300 students in grades 1-8 from five Paterson Public Schools including the Community Charter School of Paterson, School 1, School 26, School 15, and Norman S. Weir Elementary School. For more information, visit patersonmusicproject.org.

Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts is located in Berkeley Heights, New Providence and Paterson, NJ and reaches students from 13 counties. All of WIPA’s extraordinary faculty members and conductors hold degrees in their teaching specialty and have been vetted and trained to enable our students to achieve their personal best.

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