North Coffee Elementary School theater program was recently awarded a Disney Musicals in School grant that includes a one-time trip to perform on a Tennessee Performing Arts Center stage in addition to free production material, a license to a 30-minute Disney KIDS musical and free support from TPAC teaching artists.

“They bring the schools to Jackson Theatre and each one gets to perform on stage at TPAC. What an experience, especially for kids from rural Coffee County,” said North Coffee music teacher John Wright. 

North Coffee, which has a well-established theater program despite having to rent space to hold the annual productions, was notified of the award as the school year was winding down last month.

Disney’s Musicals in Schools is offered through a partnership with TPAC. The program was first started eight years ago in New York City Schools following a decline in theater arts in schools. TPAC 

“TPAC last year got permission to reach outside of Nashville. They extended the program first to Coffee County and Bedford County Schools,” he said. “I thought we were a shoo-in, they seemed really interested.”

TPAC’s guidelines call for 17 weeks from casting to curtain. Because the production dates for North Coffee is sandwiched into 10-12 weeks between Christmas break and spring sports, the grants went to two Bedford County Schools. 

But Wright was hinted at to apply again after he finished the 2019 production of “Madagascar.” He did and Wright got the news in the middle of class that the school had been awarded a special grant.

Wright estimates the material for the shows to be worth over $1,000 for each year for the three-year partnership. 

North Coffee is able to choose one of seven shows that are edited down for a 30-minute production. The titles range from “Aladdin” to “Winnie the Pooh.” The official selection for TPAC is still being made.

The third and fourth grade classes will perform the show Dec. 13-15 at the Manchester Arts Center.  The fifth grade musical is a separate performance.

John has been with the Manchester Times since May 2011. He covers Lifestyles in addition to handling education reporting and general news assignments.John has won Tennessee Press Association awards for Best News Photo and placed in numerous other categories. John is a 1994 graduate of Tullahoma High School, a graduate of Motlow State Community College and earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Middle Tennessee State University. He lives in Tullahoma, and enjoys the outdoors with his wife, Mitsy, and his 17-month-old, Sean.

Staff Writer

John has won Tennessee Press Association awards for Best News Photo and placed in numerous other categories. He is a graduate of THS, Motlow and MTSU. He lives in Tullahoma, and enjoys the outdoors with his wife, Mitsy, and his 17-month-old, Sean.

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