WESTFIELD, NJ — Washington Elementary School parents have been working hard to create their 69th annual show, to be performed this Friday and Saturday. The family-friendly musical is the PTO's largest fundraiser each year, raising money for classroom resources, teacher grants, school enhancements and additional programs to enrich the educational environment for the school’s more than 300 students.

This year’s show, “Please Don’t Stop the Music,” was written by parent Julie Shanebrook. The plot involves a fictional board of education determined to remove music programs from Westfield schools. Will four young Westfield students, with some help from famous friends based on pop music icons including Madonna, Lady Gaga, Pitbull and others be able to save the music? 

“This is the fourth show I have written for Washington School and I have tried in each of my scripts to make them educational and fun,” Shanebrook said. “This script is based on music appreciation and the theme throughout is that we all can derive so much from music of all kinds: Mozart makes you smarter, KiSS is a great outlet for adolescents looking to channel their frustrations and anxiety, Lady Gaga teaches us to love ourselves and accept our differences, Madonna is about asserting yourself, etc. We also talk about how different cultures use music in different ways — to record traditions, to get people together, to celebrate, to mourn. The inspiration for the show was to introduce the kids to new kinds of music and to embrace differences — in music and people.”

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The show isn’t just written by a parent — it’s also directed, choreographed, produced and performed almost solely by parents, with the exception of the ever-popular teacher’s dance number.

“The show developed initially as a way to get parents involved in the school, and it has certainly been successful at that,” Shanebrook said. “Without a doubt the best part of the show is getting to know the other parents. My best friends are from the show. Our friendships were forged onstage. It’s also so incredible to observe the enormous talent pool we possess. We have incredible vocalists, dancers, actors, makeup artists, set-painters and musicians among us. The show brings out the best in everyone and we all bond over it. It’s such a great experience and I am so honored to be part of it every year.”

Performances take place on Friday, Jan. 29, at 8 p.m. and Saturday, Jan. 30, at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. at Roosevelt Intermediate School, 301 Clark Street in Westfield.

All seats for each performance are $13.50 and can be purchased online through Wednesday at https://wes.booktix.com/. Tickets will be sold at the door pending availability.