Warm Up to Student Theater

By Mason Sullivan

The fourth annual Winter Warm Up, the primary source of funding for the Northeast Middle School after-school theater program, is set for Friday, January 20, from 7:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at the Grace Center, 1500 6th St NE. The Audubon Park Neighborhood Association is a co-sponsor of this event. All are invited to attend.

The event will feature:

  • Music by Buster Phelan (a local band that performs an eclectic mix of music with a focus on classic and contemporary rock)
  • Hors d’oeuvres (included in the $25, tax-deductible ticket price)
  • Beer and wine (available for a requested donation)
  • A silent auction.

Typical items up for bid include gift certificates to local businesses and items donated by parents; one item of note at last year’s event was a Barnes and Noble Nook e-reader.

All proceeds from ticket sales and winning auction bids directly benefit the theater program, which puts on two shows each year: a winter play and a spring musical. This year’s play will be Aesop’s Fables; the musical will be Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka Junior. Approximately 40 students take part in the production of the play and 75 in the musical. Every student interested in participating receives a role in the cast or crew.

“We’d like the neighborhood to join us at the Winter Warm Up,” said Kimberlee Adams, Northeast Middle School teacher and arts coordinator. “We’re really building toward a community event where people can gather in support of the school and in support of the program. Given that Northeast is an arts community, to involve the students in arts is ideal.”

Northeast Middle School parent and family involvement group member Chris Pratt believes the program is a worthwhile cause, and says the performance quality rivals that of good high-school productions. “The theater program has allowed us to put on some pretty significant performances,” he says. “It’s really been the big school event. Last year, we built an extension to the stage because we didn’t have enough room for all the kids.”

 Tickets for the Winter Warm Up are available at the door. Those unable to attend but wish to contribute to the program can do so by calling Northeast Middle School at 612-668-1500.