Producing a 'Smash' Musical

Melinda Loughhead

Melinda Loughhead
Related: 9News Story. Also see photo gallery at end of story.

After learning she landed her Denver public school one of 20 national grants from NBC's "Smash: Make a Musical" project, Mindy Loughhead's mind shifted for a moment to her UNC graduate thesis. She couldn't stick to the script now.

Loughhead, a second-year graduate student studying Theatre Education, also teaches drama to elementary and middle school students at Place Bridge Academy. The K-8 magnet school for newcomers and refugees enrolls students from 50 countries — more than 40 different languages are spoken on the campus, Loughhead says.

"It's paradise for a drama teacher," she says.

She needed little nudging to apply for the grant after her mentor and UNC Assistant Professor Gillian McNally approached her about the idea in December. The goal behind the "Make a Musical" project is to promote sustainable musical theater programs at schools that traditionally don't have access to them.

That means Loughhead not only will work with students to produce a musical this year but also for years to come. The grant provides her with the resources to purchase scripts and production rights.

For Loughhead, it's the second grant she received for Place Bridge this academic year. In September, a North American play publishing company awarded one of 15 national grants to Place Bridge after Loughhead applied. Like the Smash grant, it provided funding for a class production, The Princess King, which Loughhead's class will perform Feb. 9.

Now about that thesis. Loughhead says the topic has morphed from a study of Charlotte's Web and the circle of life to a study of the "class project, bringing a show to life and chronicling our adventures along the way." A decision on the production is forthcoming, she says.

"It's a big surprise," she told 9News, which will be providing regular updates on the production.

Tune in
9News interviewed Loughhead and McNally about the project (watch it here), and will provide updates leading up to the performance.

- UNC News Service