The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 2, 2004


Carlisle seventh graders present the musical Dear Edwina, Jr.

Kelli the Ballerina (Amanda Caddell) dances with a letter from the wheelbarrow for Dear Edwina.

Thirteen-year-old Edwina Spoonapple, advice-giver extraordinaire, hosts her very own advice show every Sunday afternoon, live from the interior of the family garage in Paw Paw, Michigan. Her show, "Dear Edwina" is a song-and-dance sensation (at least among her dearest friends), but Edwina, as spunky and determined as she is, suffers from low self-esteem. Feeling overshadowed by over-achieving siblings who boast proof of their accomplishments "up on the fridge," Edwina sets her heart on being discovered by a talent scout and making her mark at the upcoming Kalamazoo Advice-A-Palooza Festival.

This is the story-behind-the-story of the musical Dear Edwina Jr., which was performed last weekend by Carlisle seventh graders in the Corey Auditorium at the Carlisle School. Written by lyricist Mary Heisler and composer Zina Goldrich, this new musical (especially the shorter "junior" version) is tailor-made for middle school students and audiences.

"I chose Dear Edwina because I wanted a show appropriate to this age group, musically and in content. Other shows are written specifically for adults and adult voices," says Carlisle School music teacher Megan Fitzharris, who served as both director and music director of this, her second show in Carlisle. "I also wanted something the school hadn't seen, so the students could create their own characters...I loved the fact that there are so many different characters, allowing more kids to shine."

Chef (Haley George) learns about the proper way to set a table
with the help of her Fairy Forkmother (Lauren Means).

Led by shining star Dianna Bedrosian in the role of Edwina, Carlisle's seventh-grade students did an admirable job presenting the Dear Edwina show and its many quirky characters. Among them are Edwina's friends Becky the cheerleader (Brittany Geoffroy), Kelli the ballerina (Amanda Caddell), Annie the Girl-Scout-cookie-selling champion (Katharine Price), as well as Bobby, the new kid in the neighborhood (Sean LaLiberte) and Scott (Jake Dockterman), who plays the young man who is helplessly in unrequited love with Edwina. After we become acquainted with the characters and learn of Edwina's desire to find her place in the spotlight, most of the show is then comprised of letters (sung by their troubled writers) sent to "Dear Edwina," and the advice that is dispensed by way of entertaining song and dance.

Edwina (Dianna Bedrosian), left, gives advice to her sister Katie (Kelsey Bradley).

The problem of birthday party etiquette, for example, is discussed in the musical number "Frankenguest," in which a green-faced visitor (Erik Bjornson) horrifies his fellow party guests with his rudeness. Another bothersome issuethe proper way to set a tableis solved with the help of the Fairy Forkmother (Lauren Means) and the dancing utensils William (Keinan Marks) and Sonoma (Kelsey Erickson).

As always, the seventh-grade performers are backed up by an army of parents, fellow students and teachers, who build the sets, move the props, chaperone, make costumes and send out the publicity, to mention just a few of the jobs. In fact, although there were about sixty students on stage, there are at least twice as many people behind the scenes, making it all happen.

Scott (Jake Dockterman) sings of his love for Edwina.

"The parents were fabulous. They were extremely supportive," says Fitzharris. "There were also high school students who came back to donate their time as part of their community service. They did lights and sound, and helped out with makeup. The seventh graders really look up to them."

Although Dear Edwina has a happy ending, it is not the predictable one the audiences might have been expecting. In spite of her can-do spirit, Edwina does not get chosen for Advice-A-Palooza. But just as she begins to contemplate her loss, her high-achieving sister bursts into the garage after running away from a bad experience at summer Math Olympics camp, and seeks Edwina's advice. Among the sentiments included in the beautiful closing number "Sing Your Own Song" are "You've got to sing our own songuse your own voicedon't let them take away the music that you're made of." Although Edwina didn't have the chance to attend Advice-A-Palooza and win a prize, she decides by the end of the musical that being yourself is "the best prize of all."

The dancing utensils fork, William (Keinan Marks) and spoon, Sonoma (Kelsey Erickson) help teach table-setting etiquette.

PASSING ON THE WISDOM. CCHS junior Michael Johnson (right) returns to Carlisle to share the secrets of the lighting board with Dear Edwina lighting crew members (left to right) Alex Brewster, Chris Bojanic, Ben Verrill and Jesse Pearlman. (Photo by Carolynn Luby)


2004 The Carlisle Mosquito