Have you seen a musical at Newton North High School? They’re amazing. This year’s “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” which has been the subject of controversy, was no different. It was expertly executed, overseen by Adam Brown, director of the high school’s teaching and working theater program.
Play selections are chosen through an extensive review process. In the fall, when two teachers expressed apprehension about this piece of theater, much was done to address their concerns:
Brown and others immediately met with the Asian Culture Club to open a conversation about their perspective. Brown and director Brad Jensen worked with the cast to ensure that the characters were honest and clearly defined individuals with unique motivations. Faculty and students led a workshop to explore Asian stereotypes in the media. Program books included a note, reviewed by all faculty involved, discussing Asian stereotypes. Brown opened each production by acknowledging the discussion the play had stimulated, and inviting the audience to read the program and attend a scheduled talk-back session.
Brown leads an educational process that begins long before the first rehearsal and continues long after the curtain closes. By empowering students every day to take ownership in the production of their art, and by always being ready for open and honest communication, he creates a learning environment of which Newton should be very proud.
The writers comprise the Theatre Arts Opportunity Committee at Newton North High School.