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  • Writer's pictureShannon Stoddard

Happy New Year: 2021 Recap

We have come to the end of another fabulous year, and I wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the fun that I've had (mostly as a teaching artist)! Despite having to do Theatre in times of Covid... we had a wonderful season of shows at CSA!

January 2021

I got to start my year being in a virtual production of Cinderella with the There's No Place Like Home Theatre Group! It was such a fun way to kick off the year (cast photo pictured here to the right)!

Then we started the school year with rehearsals for Shrek the Musical with CSA's Youth Theatre Company (Grades 7-12)! We ended the month with auditions for CSA's Children's Theatre Company's production of High School Musical 2 JR (Grades 3-6)! The start of the semester is always an exciting time as rehearsal processes begin for new shows! I also started back at Harvest Time Academy with my Preschool Music classes (Infants- 5 years)!

I was also fortunate enough to be able to start my year with my first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine (pictured here to the left)! I am still very thankful to have these vaccines available to us and believe that this will help us (eventually) get things back to normal!

February 2021

We began the Broadway Kids classes for our Kids Theatre Company (Grades K-2) where the students learned different musical numbers throughout the semester! The Preschool Drama classes (Ages 3-5) also began at CSA where we learned about Polar Bears (among other things) while singing and dancing!

February included a crazy ice storm around Valentine's Day that forced us to spend a week doing rehearsals virtually... thankfully because of Covid quarantines we had gotten pretty good at adapting rehearsals to being online, so we didn't miss too many rehearsals!

March 2021

March brought us lots of excitement! Not only did CSA break ground for our new building (pictured to the left is me with some of my theatre students); but we also opened our FABULOUS production of Shrek the Musical with our Youth Theatre Company!

Shrek was a special production for me personally because I had many from our original production in 2014 who came back to work on THIS production! From left to right: Jennifer Woodside Anderson choreographed for the 2014 production and got to do it all over again this year! Carly Austin was my "Mama Bear" and more in the 2014 production and came back to do make-up for some of the lead characters like "Shrek" and "Donkey"! Cody Walls was my "Shrek" in 2014 and got to come back as Musical Director for this

production - which also marked his first production to work on as a teacher with CSA...

which would then soon lead him into a full-time job! Next is me... and I am honored to have been able to direct both productions as it's one of my favorite shows... I just love the message of the story about embracing who you are! And last (but not least) is Desi Dees who marked her first show with me in our 2014 production when she played many roles within the ensemble, and I was so fortunate to have her as our trusty stage manager for this production!

I truly think this particular show (and the 2014 one) will forever hold a special place in my heart! Getting to create Theatre at a time when not many people were getting to do it because of the pandemic is an honor that I'll always treasure. We had great audiences and the show was fabulous! I can't wait to see how we do with the National Youth Arts Awards... which hopefully we'll find out within the next month or two! (Pictured to the left is Cody and I after the final show!)

I decided to take a quick vacation after the musical and spent my Spring Break with my bestie (Tory) up in Branson for a few days (pictured to the right)! Our favorite part of the trip was visiting the Top of the Rock and taking in the beautiful scenery and fresh air! If you go up there -- I highly recommend the golf cart tour! It's always great taking a few days to get away and just have fun!

April 2021

April brought with it the end of my Preschool Drama classes and the Kids Theatre: Broadway Kids Showcase (pictured below)! I had two classes of my Broadway Kids class -- and they came together for the final Showcase on a Saturday afternoon. They did a great job with their performance!

May 2021

With the semester coming to a close I finished my Preschool Music classes at Harvest Time Academy with a fabulous Spring Concert and then helped with their graduation ceremony! We also had our performances of our Children's Theatre Company's production of High School Musical 2 JR! I'd have to say we had some FABULOUS performances... Unfortunately, I don't have any photos to document that experience at the moment!

(I was not great at taking photos throughout the year... something I need to be better about! Sometimes it's difficult to remember to do so while I'm also teaching!)

June 2021

June is always the start of our Summer

Camps! Through CSA we had our

Preschool for the Arts Camp (Ages 3-5) where I taught the music / drama portion of the camp. We had a LOT of fun each day with our youngest students! There was also the Rising Stars Camp (Grades K-2) who learned several musical numbers and scenes from You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown for a Showcase for family and friends at the end of the week.

And last there was the Broadway Intensive (Grades 3-6 / Grades 7-12) who learned MANY musical numbers for a very intense Showcase at the end of the week! (Pictured above are Cody, Dylan and I after the Broadway Intensive Showcase... the start of a fabulous team!)

July 2021

July was another month full of Summer Camps -- and we put together the production of Elf the Musical JR together in 2 weeks with our Youth Theatre Company (Grades 7-12)! We had some of our teens act as Assistant Directors, Assistant Musical Directors, Dance Captains and Production Managers to help us achieve such an incredible production in the short 2-week time frame! I am constantly amazed by what my students can achieve, and this production solidified that idea even more! (Pictured to the left is Dylan, Cody and I at the show!) I also got to celebrate my 34th birthday with this group as we went to IHOP after striking the show and they waited till midnight just to sing to me! (I love my kids! They are simply the best!)

August 2021

August started a new school year at CSA with lots of new classes and students! I began rehearsals for my Children's Theatre (Grades 3-6) production of Junie B. Jones the Musical JR (pictured left) with 23 students! I also started back with my Preschool Music classes at Harvest Time Academy where I see about 150 kids a week (infant - 5 years)!

September 2021

September is always when the semester really starts speeding up with classes at CSA! I started back with my Kids Theatre Company (Grades K-2) with 20 kids in our production of Disney's 101 Dalmatians KIDS (pictured left)! I also began classes for my Homeschool Improvisation class (Grades 5-8) and my Preschool Musical class (Ages 3-5)! Each week I taught about 50-60 students at CSA and 150 at HTA Preschool!

Also, in September CSA started our very own Thespian Society troupe thanks to Cody Walls! It was an honor to be able to induct these students into the program and I look forward to chaperoning the Thespian Festival in February 2022! (Pictured to the left is after our Induction ceremony.)

October 2021

With the semester in full swing, I was very busy teaching and promoting our programs at CSA! One of our marketing events to promote our production of Junie B. Jones the Musical JR was Story Times themed around Junie B. and little publicity promos. (Pictured right is me reading a Junie B. book to the kids at a

Bookish Story Time event). Each Story Time included a reading from a bit of a Junie B. book and a fun activity to follow! For example, the day we read "Junie B.: Boss of Lunch" the kids colored their own lunch boxes and then I taught them the "Lunch Box" dance from our production!

The other cool thing we got to do to promote our show was that I took my actress of played "Junie B." and we went to the library (pictured left) to create a video where Junie B. got her first library card and we promoted her books, the libra

ry and the show! We were also doing Junie B. Jones Activity Packets which went along with the books for the kids to take home and join in the fun there (since we couldn't do in-person Story Times there because of Covid)!

November 2021

November started the craziness of productions, concerts and end of semester Showcases! We performed MTI's: All Together Now concert as a fundraiser with about 40-50 CSA theatre students and alumni! The cool thing about this fundraising concert was that literally thousands of our theatre organizations around the world were also doing the same concert over the same weekend to celebrate the fact that Theatre is BACK again! It was a really fun Musical Revue to put together!

Our Children's Theatre Company also performed their production of Junie B. Jones the Musical JR to great audiences! One of my sweet students even drew a picture of me and another let me borrow a big purple bow so I could look like Junie B. (pictured above)!

We also had Showcases for my Preschool Drama class and my Homeschool Improvisation class -- where those students wrote their own original murder mystery script for the final Showcase!

December 2021

The end of the year comes so quickly at the end of the semester! My Kids Theatre Company performed adorable productions of Disney's 101 Dalmatians KIDS (pictured left is a shot from one of our tech rehearsals)! It was many of these young students FIRST TIME to ever be in a show and I hope that it was a memorable experience that they'll never forget! They all worked so hard!

I also finished a spectacularly adorable Preschool Music Concert at Harvest Time Academy where they kids did a phenomenal job! They always make my heart so happy!

And although most things came to an end, we auditioned over 30 teens for our Youth Theatre Company production of Disney's The Little Mermaid (Grades 7-12)! I can't wait to begin rehearsals with these talented teens in January!

After a crazy busy semester, I was honored to be able to host (most of) my family at my house for Christmas Eve! My sister made the trip in from Houston with her husband and it was so great to be reunited! The rest of the family made it in for Christmas Day! It was the first time we had ALL been together as a family since 2019! It was so great having everyone together again! (Family picture at my house from Christmas Eve left!)

Caitlin, Joey (her husband) and I were supposed to leave for NYC after the holiday for a short vacation; but the spike of Covid-19 cases and chances of our flights being cancelled as well as everything else made us decide to cancel our trip. It would have been so lovely seeing the spectacular Christmas decorations throughout the city, and see a Broadway show, and most importantly see friends and family that we haven't seen since 2019... but being safe was just a better, more responsible option for us. I hope that I'll finally be able to make a trip up there in 2022!

So, that is my 2021 year-end review with many highlights throughout the journey! I look forward to seeing what 2022 has in store for me!

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