Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I've Found Glee in Napoleon Ohio

I can always tell how popular a TV show is by the number of song requests I receive that originates from the show.  Creative types in the entertainment industry discovered that they could combine TV or movie scripts with popular music and have a hit in multiple media outlets, generating more profit.  The TV show Glee is a perfect example of this strategy. Glee is not only drawing a strong TV audience but it is also successful at pumping out popular music.  Not unusual is that young audiences are pushing the popularity of both the show as well as the music.

Glee is high school drama mixed with a heavy dose of the love of music and theater.  Students precariously navigate their desire to participate on the school stage without jeopardizing their popularity.  At the very least, they are trying not to get beat up in the school yard because they have a lead in the school play.  Along the way, everyone discovers just how fragile life can be, even at seventeen.  What makes it all the more magical is that jocks, nerds and other cliques sometimes come to the realization that, hey, everyone’s got something of value to offer!

Set in Ohio, it is the shared story of just about any school in America.  I am delighted, however, that it has a distinctive Midwestern feel about it.  I believe I’ve found the real life high school that the TV show must have used as its model.  Napoleon, Ohio is a small town located in northwest, Ohio just south of Toledo.  Like other small rural towns, Napoleon loves its barbecues, parades and of course football.  But in striking fashion, it also loves the arts, particularly the performing arts offered by its local high school. 

Now, admittedly, I am biased as I have two nephews and a niece who attend the school.  But much to my amazement the public performances put on by their bands, choir and theater group are noteworthy.  As a professional, I can’t help but observe such things as stage presence, vocal training, choreography, etc.  And, there is no doubt in my mind that the kids who participate are getting above average mentoring there.  In fact, after several years of driving 150 miles one way to see numerous performances, I have identified several students who have impressive talent, the kind that makes me wonder if someday I’ll be purchasing music of theirs when preparing for a gig.

I’ll be making the drive again from Cleveland this weekend to enjoy The High School Theater Department’s Spring musical, The Wizard of Oz.   Performances will be held at the John L. Johnson Auditorium located 303 W. Main Street.  Show dates are April 8 and 9 at 7:30 PM and April 10 at 2:00 PM.  Tickets are only $10.

So, to the educators, parents and students in Napoleon, Ohio and the many other schools across our country that stress the arts, I encourage them to continue their efforts.  Their students are gaining valuable skills and ever so important confidence with each show they perform.  Not all of them will become stars on the big stage but they’ll all benefit in numerous other ways from their time on stage at school. 

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