Each of our children has had such a great experience with plays while attending Canyon View Junior High here in Orem, Utah. This has been largely due to the love and care of the drama teacher Ms. Kate O’Reily. Aaron has been the biggest benefactor while in Junior High because he was able to gain lots of stage experience while playing teenie roles in the plays of his older brother and sisters. By the time Aaron hit the stage as a 9th grader he had been in over 14 productions, with experience in ensemble, dance, and even leading roles, so his comfort level under the drama stage lights was very high. We owe a debt of gratitude to those who helped give him the experience thus far.
This week ended the run of Seussical The Musical where Aaron played the Mayor of Whoville as well as a tall stilt walker in The Circus McGurkus. The show ended on Tuesday night and when Thursday afternoon arrived Aaron was headed into the auditions for the 9th grade play, The Curious Savage. Auditions required a 90 second monologue, of which Uncle Jay played a guiding hand. Auditioning was going to be a tough event because the cast was going to be selected from a huge group of talented 9th graders, but only 5 young men and 6 young women were ultimately going to be cast.
Coming home from the auditions Aaron felt that he had nailed it, but still felt unsure about whether or not he would be cast. He was asked by Danielle Tibbits if he would be willing to not be cast and take a backstage role and he said sure. I asked him if he followed that with, “But I would sure rather be cast in the play.” But Aaron, in his typical humility refrained from adding that in his response. Both Danielle and Kate have come to love our kids and have come to know their hearts. Each child has had their own trials and challenges, but each has blossomed and gained character from their CVJH drama experiences.
Going to school on Friday Aaron knew that those cast would receive a text by 4 PM and those not cast would not hear anything until Monday morning when they came to school and could see the list of those cast hanging on the wall. Both Shelly and Aaron knew my cold/flu condition and sent a text to Danielle that if Aaron was cast that they not send the text to me, or Aaron might never get it. This is a huge family joke, one of which that contains a lot of truth.
After school brought a text stating that Aaron has been cast as “Dr. Emmett: The staff doctor for this wing of the Cloisters. Dr. Emmett is kind, warmhearted, and he works hard to help his patients.”
No other information was shared. Those receiving a text were told to dress nicely and come to dinner at The Spaghetti Factory at 6 PM at the Orem University Mall. It was there that each would see who was cast in the on-stage and back-stage positions. It was then that they would realize who was at home with broken hearts, not being cast. It was then they would realize with whom they would get to spend their final opportunity in their last year together with under the drama stage lights of Canyon View Junior High.
The cast promised to keep their casting notices private until Monday morning, and the dinner proceeded with Ms. Kate seizing the moment teaching them both etiquette and manners throughout the dinner. This was the cream of the crop, the best of the best, the most well mannered 9th grade drama students for 2013, and Aaron felt honored to be part of the group.
It has been a great year for Aaron with drama. He did not know at the start of the year that it would be Ms. Kate’s last before she leaves on her LDS mission. The plays this year have been so much fun and favorites of Ms. Kate. She loves Beauty and The Beast, and she gets all giddy about Dr. Seuss and Seussical The Musical. Both were a huge success and both featured casts of over 110 each. Just a few weeks ago she submitted her LDS mission papers and she knew that this 9th grade play needed to be special. Selecting The Curious Savage came about because it is one of her favorites and she loves the meaning left with the audience. Another runner-up was the Diary of Anne Frank, but she felt that was both too emotional and casting was going to be difficult because of siblings already having been in roles. That’s right, Adam was in Anne Franke as part of his 9th grade play and Ms. Kate wanted families to have new memories.
So Aaron was entrusted with the role of Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast, the Mayor of Whoville in Seussical The Musical, and now Dr. Emmett in the Curious Savage. It just does not get any better than that. As his Father I am proud of his dedication. A pride that would beam just as brightly if he was either not cast at all, or cast as a backstage helper, but now beams as I watch him rise to the challenge placed before him. What a memorable year with memorable roles... But think about Aaron’s preparation that preceded the most recent casting. The Curious Savage will be Aaron’s 17th play... Wow!
AARON LEAVITT’S STAGE CREDITS
OREM HIGH SCHOOL - Teenie
- 7 Brides For 7 Brothers - w/Jessica
- Children of Eden- w/Jessica
- Hello Dolly- w/Jessica
CANYON VIEW - Teenie
- Beauty and the Beast - w/Adam
- Oklahoma - w/Adam & Haily
- Seussical The Musical - w/Adam & Haily
VALLEY CENTER PLAYHOUSE
- Rockrollers and Pancakes - 2009 - w/Shelly, Jessica & Adam
- Hotel Frankenstein - “Junior Woodknocker” 2009 - w/Jessica & Frankenstein
- Lend Me Your Mink - “Bill” 2010 - W/Shelly, Adam & Haily
- Hotel Frankenstein - “Junior Woodknocker” 2010
CANYON VIEW JUNIOR HIGH
- Peter Pan - “Lost Boy” 2010 - w/Haily
- Pireates of Penzance - “Pirate” 2011 - w/Haily
- Grease - “Ritchie The Busboy” 2011
- The Music Man - “Town Band Boy” 2012
- Beauty and the Beast - “Lumiere” 2012
- Seussical The Musical - “Mayor” 2013
- The Curious Savage - “Dr. Emmett” 2013