By JOSEPH PRATT
Emily Smith, vocal music teacher at Portsmouth Elementary School, says she is excited to start the first junior show choir in the history of Portsmouth. The elementary school has always incorporated choreography into their choir, but they are now putting much more focus on dancing and adding popular song choices to their repertoire. Smith is a second-year teacher in the school district, and has just wrapped up Aladdin Jr., her first production.
“Aladdin went awesomely. Everyone worked together as a team, learned all of their choreography and lines, and we had the show completely down two weeks early, which never really happens in musical theatre,” Smith said. “These kids are amazing, and I could tell that they just weren’t done with choir yet, so then I decided to start the show choir. I knew that they would really enjoy being a part of it, and it would also prepare them for high school.”
The choir has been hard at work for three weeks, working on the music and is now breaking into the choreography with their instructor, Chelle Cartee. The students are moving as smoothly as they did in Aladdin, and Smith said she hopes to start a tradition at PES.
“I really hope that we can turn this into something we do every year. I would like to continue on with our Broadway shows earlier in the year and then spend the end of the year working with show choir. We could avoid OAA testing and get the musical out of the way, and as a reward work on the show choir.”
Judy Smith, music teacher at Portsmouth Elementary School and mother of Emily, said she is enjoying the experience that her daughter is bringing to the elementary stage.
“I love working with the choir and with Emily. The kids are wonderful and are soaking it up like a dry sponge,” Judy Smith said. “The music is more popular, and the kids seem to enjoy it more and get into it.”
Cartee has been choreographer at Portsmouth Elementary for four years, and the show choir routine is going to be the sixth show she has choreographed for them. Cartee is a student at Wright State University and is pursuing dance and management.
“The students are doing really, really well; they are doing better than I’ve seen some high school students do. I am really happy that they have a show choir this year, it’s exciting and they all love it.” Cartee said. “I’m just glad to be a Trojan, and to be back contributing all I can.”
Miranda Givens is the soloist in this show, and said she is happy to be singing and dancing alongside her friends.
“I’m really happy to be the soloist in the show, I tried really hard in my audition,” Givens said. “The music is great and I love the dancing.”
Sarah Simmons is a longtime performer of local arts and known for the powerful voice she has for her age. She said she is excited to start something new and work on a show choir.
“I think we’re going to be great, because we are all really good at singing and dancing. We have a really good group. Theatre and choir is different, but they are still very similar. Theatre has more acting involved, but the dancing has a lot of acting in the choreography,” Simmons said. “I think all of us here is enjoying it and I know people that see us will like it.”
Sara Born is one of Portsmouth Express’s dancers and has been coaching some of the other kids who have missed rehearsals. Born has been a part of Rhythm and Rhinestones, a local dance studio, for the last four years and loves dancing.
“I think everyone will enjoy our show. It’s going to be really cool, fun and exciting,” Born said. “We’re going to be really great and our dance routine is amazing. She (Cartee) has been working really hard making our dances and getting us ready.”
Reese Johnson has been involved with Portsmouth Express for the past couple years and is ready to take on the music of Michael Jackson.
“I like Michael a lot; he is a great singer and dancer. I love performing “Thriller,” it’s exciting and fun,” Johnson said. “I enjoy show choir and theatre, because it is a great way to express yourself.”
The show choir will perform for the first time on May 3, and the show is free. They will be performing hit songs such as “Thriller,” “I Believe I Can Fly” and “Don’t Stop Believing.”
“I am really proud of the kids for tackling something new and being ready and willing to be challenged,” Smith said. “No one can dance like Michael Jackson and they are really trying and doing a great job at it!”