The full cast of Moana Jr., who received a well-deserved round of rollicking applause at the end of their two performances.

Based on the 2016 Disney film, a cast of 48 students in third through eighth grade worked under the Direction of Ms. Dawn Heavilin to bring the story of Moana Jr. to the Shirland School stage, joined by a full crew who set sail on a course of adventure on March 14 and 15.

Behind telling this story was the book that was adapted for young performers by Susan Soon He Stanton.

Fun and catchy musical pieces were created by Tony, Grammy, Emmy, and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, Opetaia Foa’i, and Mark Mancina. Music and orchestrations were adapted and arranged by Ian Weinberger.

Colorful, fun costumes, and amazing vocals enhanced the characters’ personas.

The use of blue ribbons in dance numbers created a peaceful feeling. One actress extra captured great attention by doing flips on stage.

Moana is the daughter of the chief of her island. Those she associates with are known to farm and fish, content to be in a world unto themselves.

Being an adventurer Moana is curious and desperate to see what lies beyond their reef. She receives push back from her father and the community by reminding her that no one leaves.

The ultra talented Kira Quillen transformed into Moana who ignored her father Chief Tui, played by Jordan Pal who was very convincing in his role.  Instead Moana listens to her Grandma Tala, (the brilliant Maddie Pals) who gives her advice, prior to her death.

Unknown to her father when Moana was a little girl, the ocean chose her to be the one who would save all of the islands from destruction, in an attempt to reverse the actions of Maui, played by Billy Hoff who brought great comedic prowess and pizzazz to the role, as a Polynesian demigod.

Moana and Maui embark on an epic journey of self-discovery where they meet the shiny crab Tamatoa in his lair. Nick Sprigler’s artistry shone brightly in this role.

After the curtain opened action moved swiftly from scene to scene, The ancestors, and the Ocean (a supporting character in the show) told the story of how things were in the Beginning,featuring the opening song, “Tulou Tagaloa.”

Next characters spent time on  the shore and the village. Chief Tui, Moana and Hei Hei,(Gus Stromberg), Pua, (Emma Faherty), Sina,(Maggie Van),Grandma Tala and the Villagers laid out a location for Moana in “Where You Are.

Moana looked ahead to her travel plans, in “How Far I’ll Go” with Pua, Hei Hei and Ocean.

Maui led the ensemble in the very uplifting and fun, “You’re Welcome.”

Maui and Moana face each other in Lalotai where the Gate monster and a group of monsters, addressed a “Warrior Face.”

Drexel Michalsen stood out as the main antagonist, Te Ka.

Tamatoa the Shiny Crab had the company of Left Claw,(Lucas Riihl) Right Claw, (Peter Hoff), with Maui and Moana entering the scene in the show stopping number, “Shiny.”

Grandma Tala’s spirit re-appeared in the number “Song of the Ancestors” along with Moana and the ancestors.

Moana and Ocean looked at the importance of “Know Who You Are.”

Ocean gave Te Fiti, (Ciara O’ Hearcain) one of two goddesses of the earth her heart back.

In the final scene the full ensemble gave reassurance in, “We Know the Way.”

Ancestors and villagers used the isles to draw extra interest.

The cast of ancestors was led by Henry Kovanda as the Chief, Mackenzie Bragg, and Bayleigh Dewart.

The Ocean Ensemble: Audrianna Serns, Aleena Lange, Vera Van, Estelle Stromberg, Aubrey Hurn, and Annie Lange.

Mountain Volcano People: Kashvi Bhatt, Isabelle Scott- Nimmer, Savanha Meyers, Nora Nygren, Amelia Williams, Ashley Kempin, and Emma Sallinger.

Fisherpeople: Knox Beyer, Lillian Crosby, Easton Gunnick, and Logan Riihl.

Farmers: Jayden Rogers, Calvin Duron, Zac Sibigtroth, Reed Miller, Colton Jobson, and Leah Serns.

Carter Fern became the Gate Monster. Other monsters were: Daxton Hawkins, Jack Hall, Jaylen Paul, Grace Williams, Gilberto Rodriguez, and Emmalynn Kempin.

Behind the scenes Heavilin received assistance from Mrs. Heather Dobnick, alumni, Ms. Maddy Dobnick Mrs. Ciara Fischer-James, (alumni), all Stage Managers. These ladies also joined Mrs. Rebecca Clinite, and Mrs. Hannah Pals who worked on perfectly in sync choreography.

Aleena Lange served as the Student Choreographer.

Costumes, props, scenery work was taken care of by Mrs. Beverly Velmers, Mrs. Fischer-James, Mrs. Pals, Miss Buhck, Miss Emily Morrow, (alumni) and Mrs. Amber Miller.

Alia Johnson, Etta Lewis, and Evie McLevige made up the stage crew.

Hair and makeup was overseen by: Mrs. Jackie Serns, alumni Miss Kylie Eberley, Maddy Dobnick, and Miss Ashley Edwards.

Adding extra flair to the show was a detailed boat designed by Mr. Ron Dobnick.

Mrs. Pals also helped with technology. Mr. Jamie Wilson was the Sound Engineer.

Alum, Aubrey Carlson handled the spotlight.

Special thanks were given to specific staff members at Shirland School. Donations of paint for the sets came from Rockton Hardware and from an Amazon Wish List-donated by the Prosser and Quillen families, plus many others.

Throughout her journey Moana learns to harness the power that lies within. The overall message of Moana Jr. is to embrace your own empowerment.

Rousing applause accompanied the final curtain call.

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