How students at a Maryland high school prepare themselves for every rehearsal

How students at a Maryland high school prepare themselves for every rehearsal

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“It usually takes a long time, but not this year – they’re getting it right away.”

– Ruth Ridenour, Director of Theatre, Barbara Ingram School for the Arts

It was about eight months ago when we first heard about Barbara Ingram School for the Arts (BISFA)  – a performing arts high school in Hagerstown, Maryland.

One of their teachers reached out to us after reading a Forbes feature on ProductionPro and wanted to find out how they could get it into the hands of their students, who all have iPads as part of the school’s 1-to-1 program. The iPad has become such an integral tool to the faculty and students’ daily workflow and they were looking for a program that caters specifically to helping them put on their shows.

That’s how BISFA came to be the first school to pilot ProductionPro on an MTI show.

A student-decorated stairway at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts.

We recently paid the BISFA cast and crew a visit during rehearsals for their spring musical HAIRSPRAY. We had meant to find out how the team – and various departments – were using ProductionPro, and ended up staying an entire day being completely enamored by the talented high-schoolers and clearly passionate teachers.

“It’s almost like as soon as you walk through the door, a bucket of love falls on you because everyone here is so happy and accepting of each other,” says student Makiah Cross.

Artist-in-residence and choreographer, Nicole Ruark, started teaching at BISFA because students like Makiah “bring creativity and joy and passion that only kids can bring.”

Artist-in-residence and choreographer, Nicole Ruark.

“That’s where we started. We all started as artists with this little nugget of inspiration and excitement about what we’re doing, and I get to experience that every day with these kids.”

As rehearsals started, we began noticing some interesting nuggets as well – the room was clean and efficient, the students had their lines and choreography down, and everyone seemed completely at ease with whatever they were doing. They had not had choreography in a while, and this session was supposed to be an early stumble-through.

Student cast member running his lines in rehearsal.

While waiting their turn to enter, students were discreetly running lines and revising choreography…on ProductionPro – they seemed to have seamlessly integrated ProductionPro into their rehearsal process! Even though we’ve seen the same in much larger, professional rehearsal rooms, it was really something witnessing this process take place in a high school musical rehearsal.

Student Rachel Lum, who works in the costume shop, appreciates being able to reference rehearsal clips while not actually being in rehearsal.

Technical theatre student, Rachel Lum.

“Everyone’s doing different things so it’s hard to get everyone into one place. Now that we have ProductionPro, I can just go in the scroll or the library and see ‘oh this was tagged for this number, so I want to match this costume to this set,’ so it’s really great for communication.”

A beneficiary of Rachel’s work is fellow student Judah Ickes – who played Mr. Pinky in HAIRSPRAY. He says being able to see his costume early helped him with shaping his character which, in turn, better prepared him for rehearsals.

Nicole sums it up best when she expresses how ProductionPro has helped the BISFA faculty and students, adjunct faculty and external team members get on the same page.

“To be able to have all those people communicate and be on the same page at the same time is invaluable. We need to move quickly, and ProductionPro allows us to move quickly and efficiently as a team.”

We’re honored by their warm reception and inspired by their vibrant energy, and we cannot wait to introduce ProductionPro to more high schools!

Add ProductionPro to your MTI show!

Cast of Hairspray at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts with their iPads and ProductionPro!

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