Saturday, June 6, 2015

Pageant set for July 16, 17 & 18 this year!

Magnificent musical features original music by Tyler Castleton

            The anticipation to repeat the outstanding success enjoyed at the debut of “If These Walls Could Talk” last year has charged the musical’s directors for this year’s production on July 16, 17 & 18.  The original musical will be presented in front of the Oneida Stake Academy at 8:45 p.m.
            Written by Cecile Costley and directed by Danielle Dunn, the musical features local actors, dancers and vocalists playing both historical and fictitious people from Franklin County.  The storyline centers on a grandfather trying to connect to his digitally-distracted grandson, a father hoping to inspire his rambunctious young family and a young man in love eager to share a meaningful secret with his sweetheart, unexpectedly meet in the Oneida Stake Academy building, and discover that sometimes, walls can talk.
            From dancers to actors, to singers and organizers, participants in the pageant last year are thrilled to repeat the performance this year, say organizers.
            “My granddaughter “has” to be in the play again this year. She absolutely loved it last year” said Dunn.
            Local residents are also thrilled for a repeat production.
            “A lady I was talking to the other day was very excited because she said she missed the pageant last year,” said Pat Moses. She and Glenda Swainston are making and gathering costumes. Other people were so impressed from last year’s production that they want to return this year.
            “I had a couple from Weston tell me that the pageant touched their hearts and helped them to see what a great heritage the community has in that building,” said music director, Carla Gunderson.
Renowned composer, Tyler Castleton, wrote magnificent songs specifically for this musical.
            “The music Tyler Castleton wrote for it is fabulous. He really got the spirit of the academy. Everyone that sang the music felt it. I felt it. He brought the courage the pioneers had, the camaraderie they had, and the dreams they had, and brought them to life in the songs,” she continued.
            “How could he have known that every person that comes through those (academy) doors will know that those pioneers built that building to last forever?”
            Castleton has said that he wrote the music as a gift to his hometown.
“I knew it would be difficult with my schedule, but … I said I would wholeheartedly. Frankly, I wanted to make a contribution. I wanted to help tell the story of our heritage and our history and of all the wonderful and amazing people who came before us. I feel really privileged to … use (my talents) to help.”
At the time, Castleton was in the middle of producing a tour and debut of the boy band, Beyond 5, so his time was extraordinarily tight. He wrote the music, but in his heart, he knew it wasn’t right. So despite the hopes of the Oneida Stake Academy Foundation Pageant Committee’s directors, he scrapped the songs. The pageant therefore, was not a part of Franklin County’s Centennial as it was originally intended.
Determined to find just the “right” message with his songs, Castleton rewrote them all, and when they finally came together, the music was worth the wait, said Peggy Christensen, co-chair of the OSAF Pageant Committee.
Castleton said he found inspiration in the characters and script Costley created, by imagining the mindset and heartfelt feelings of the characters.
            “I tried to put myself into the place of the townspeople so long ago when the prophet was encouraging them to make education a bigger part of their lives,” he said.
“The music conveys exactly the message and emotions we were hoping for,”  said Christensen. When the actors, dancers, light are added to the  music on the steps of the grand building itself, the effect is magical.
“We are thrilled with how the pageant has turned out, and we are pleased to sponsor such an uplifting event in celebration of our community’s heritage,” said OSAF chairman, Nathan Hale.

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