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Draper Journal

Summit Academy students learn more than history in ‘Night at the Wax Museum’ play

Mar 30, 2023 01:14PM ● By Julie Slama

Summit Academy students recently performed “Night at the Wax Museum.” (Aimee Rohling/Summit Academy)

Imagine walking into a wax museum just to have famous people—Henry VIII, Cleopatra, Butch Cassidy, John Adams, the Sundance Kid—come to life.

That’s what happened recently at Summit Academy when junior high students performed “Night at the Wax Museum.” 

The storyline has six students retaking their history class in summer school when the first-year teacher arranged to set up a wax museum. Only a mysterious charm from Cleopatra’s bracelet brings the characters to life and everyone is on a hunt to find something valuable hidden in the museum.

“Our kids had a lot of fun with it,” said director Aimee Rohling. “After a few years of COVID limiting performing and rehearsals, this year we were finally out of those restrictions. So we wanted something big and exciting and fun in a full-length play. This gave them the opportunity to work on something, to have fun and learn in the process.”

Since open auditions in October, 24 students rehearsed and worked on the set after school for the February performance. While some students had to drop out with schedule conflicts over the months, the cast adapted.

“They learned a lot about relying on each other. They kept pushing and encouraging each other when there were times where things were difficult. It was a lot of work, but they knew they could do it. They really banded together and became strong,” she said. “They were very dedicated and committed to helping each other and making it be a good show.”

Rohling said the skills they used extended beyond acting technique or written and verbal communication.

“They used a lot of active listening, thinking on their feet, teamwork. All of those are necessary to get it night after night and make it through the show,” she said. “The play had a different skill set; that may have given others an experience to perform they wanted or aren’t comfortable singing in a musical.”

Rohling directed the play with tech student-turned-student director Gianna Davis, who is in seventh grade. Historical costumes were created by volunteer Mary Jo Macomb and modern-day kids designed and brought in their own costumes.

It’s the second time Rohling has directed this play at Summit.

“We performed it about 10 years ago. I remember it being a fun, swashbuckling adventure. Everybody’s excited by treasure and pirates and cowboys and all of those things so it was a big production,” she said. “It’s always fun to have the students come tell me what they want to do. But often, I give them something new and maybe it’s something they don’t even know they can do. Often, their families and friends are saying, ‘I’ve never seen them do something like that’ and we may have the quietest, most shy students be the most outgoing on stage so that’s fun to see a new side of the students. I like watching them grow; theater helps you be good at everything in life because everybody has to listen, everybody has to work as a team, everybody has to speak in public. Theater helps them practice those things in a fun way.”