Originally created 11/15/02

Students to honor composer



For the past several weeks, students at Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School have been immersing themselves in history. But instead of poring over dusty tomes and textbooks, these theater, music and dance students are taking their scholarly endeavors on stage.

And somewhere, Richard Rodgers is smiling.

In celebration of the centennial of the theatrical composer's birth, the students will stage A Tribute to Richard Rodgers, a multimedia performance incorporating music, theater, dance and video. Drama teacher Heather Davidson, the drama and musical theater director on the production, said she had planned a similar presentation last year, but it never quite came together. This year, she decided the secret to the production's success might be making it bigger.

"That's when we decided to do something collaboratively on it," she said, motioning toward her co-director, dance instructor Renee Williams Toole. "We decided that this was something that would work well as a more gala show."

The show is split into two acts. The first focuses on Richard Rodgers' collaborations with Lorenz Hart, such as Babes in Toyland and Pal Joey, while the second concentrates on his partnership with Oscar Hammerstein II, including The King and I and South Pacific.

"From there we structured out a skeleton of what shows we would include, what the dancers would do and what the solos would be," Ms. Davidson said.

Because the Rodgers canon includes 40 Broadway shows and more than 900 published songs, cutting the performance into a manageable two hours meant making some tough decisions.

"Many of the choices revolved around what the audience would find recognizable," Ms. Toole said. "There is a generation that grew up watching these things on television, or actually going to the movies and seeing them on the big screen. They have a place in our lives. So I think there will be people who come and sing along, especially during the second act."

As with all the school's productions, the idea behind A Tribute to Richard Rodgers is education in the aspects of performance and historical context.

"Richard Rodgers is the reason musical theater looks the way it does today," Ms. Toole said. "Every musical on Broadway can be traced back to him. He was one of the leaders. He set the foundation."

ON STAGE

WHAT: A Tribute to Richard Rodgers, presented by Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School

WHEN: 7 tonight

WHERE: The Beverly J. Barnhart Theater, Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School, 615 12th St.

COST: $6 adults, $5 seniors and children younger than 5, $4 Davidson students.

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com