Westfield Friends School and Moorestown Theater Company (MTC) mark the beginning of what both sides hope will be a fruitful partnership this week with the premiere of Disney's The Jungle Book Kids.
Michelle Banfe—whose children, 9-year-old Julianna and 7-year-old Michael, both Westfield students and past performers in MTC shows—said she approached Mark Morgan, the theater company’s producing artistic director, with the idea of starting a drama club at the Friends School.
“(My children) had such a wonderful experience with Moorestown Theater Company,” Banfe said. “I wanted to add some extracurricular activities to enhance the school’s musical program … and I knew Mark could put it together.”
Morgan said MTC has enjoyed a “great symbiotic relationship” with Our Lady of Good Counsel (OLGC) in Moorestown over the last decade; MTC helped the school form a drama club and each spring stages a musical cast exclusively with OLGC students, many of whom star in other MTC productions.
Morgan hopes the theater company can forge an equally rewarding—and mutually beneficial—relationship with Westfield Friends.
The Jungle Book performance is the first time MTC has put on a full show outside of Moorestown, he said.
Westfield Head of School Peter Pearson said he’s excited for the collaboration.
“Drama is a great way for students to express themselves,” he said. “It gives kids a chance to develop poise and a sense of self-confidence.”
Banfe said her children have been having a blast rehearsing for the show, practicing songs and lines in the car.
“The really awesome thing about theater is it brings together a variety of ages and they all work together to do this one production … and it’s so cute,” she said. “It’s really fun to see my kids working together, doing their lines. They love the costumes. They love being part of the performance.”
Of the roughly 120 students who were eligible to be cast, 21 are in the production, according to Banfe, who said the inclusiveness of theater—MTC does not cut performers—is another great selling point for youngsters.
“Not everyone in the production can be a lead,” she said, “but everyone in the production matters … It’s such a good thing to teach the children.”
Jungle Book premieres Friday, with a show just for the students. The performance opens to the public with two shows Saturday, at 2 and 7 p.m.
“It’s a great couple hours of entertainment,” said Morgan.
Purchase tickets for $10 online or at the door.
_________________________Reminder: Westfield Friends School will hold an open house from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, Nov, 17. Pearson said prospective parents can call ahead to arrange a tour or show up the day of.