Several Ira Jones Middle School students helped a New York-based composer finesse her original musical and gave one recent eighth grader a chance to sing during a national workshop.
Ira Jones eighth grader Addison Kyrychenko participated in the New York-based BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre workshop virtually on Monday, June 15, 2020. Kyrychenko will be a freshman at Plainfield North High School this fall.
Kyrychenko sang “Take Another Step: Tabitha’s Song” from the musical “Like I Care” written by New York composer Lisa DeSpain.
The workshop features a group of musical theater songwriters who give feedback on original songs from musicals that could end up on Broadway.
Composers who worked on musicals such as “A Chorus Line,” “The Book of Mormon,” and “Little Shop of Horrors” have participated in the workshop.
Karen Blair, Ira Jones choir director, connected with DeSpain on Facebook. DeSpain’s resume includes working on music from Broadway’s “Hamilton.”
Blair and about 20 sixth, seventh and eighth graders have been working virtually with DeSpain to go through the script for “Like I Care” since school closed in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Like I Care” is based on “A Christmas Carol,” but this scrooge is a middle school girl who will stop at nothing to become a reality star, including bullying her former best friend.
Blair’s students would ask DeSpain questions about the script because middle school students are the musical’s target audience.
DeSpain asked Blair to pick a student to sing one of the musical’s songs for the workshop.
Kyrychenko loves to write music and that is one reason why Blair said she chose her for the workshop, Blair said.
“Addison has a drive, she is going places,” Blair said. “You have to go with people who you know will deliver.”
The workshop was fun, Kyrychenko said.
Kyrychenko sang last so she heard about the creative process about each song from their songwriters, she said.
“It was cool to just hear about how each of the panelists had a different idea about each song,” Kyrychenko said.