Riverdale Drama Director Reflects on a Successful Run

Last weekend, another successful Riverdale play closed. Lynden Lewis, their director is no stranger to the stage herself. Her second consecutive year serving as the creative director of the Riverdale Raiders Theater, she has signed on to direct two shows this year.

Traditionally, Riverdale has offered a spring musical, but this year the school plans to offer both a spring and a fall musical. It’s yet to be announced or official, but the rumor is that they will tackle the musical Oklahoma! in the spring. Stay tuned for audition and ticket information. Our staff recently sat down for a Q and A with the director, Lynden Lewis about their hit fall musical, Into the Woods Jr.

Lynden Lewis is a graduate of the University of Tulsa with a degree in Musical Theater and a minor in vocal performance. In her time there, she had the opportunity to take on roles such as Maureen in Rent, the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet, the Witch (understudy) in Into the Woods, and Annie in Some Enchanted Evening. She began her love for theater in middle school at Briarcrest as a lost boy in Peter Pan and continued through high school with some of her favorite roles being Luisa in The Fantasticks!, Ado Annie in Oklahoma!, Ilona in She Loves Me, and Annie in Annie. She has been involved with Theater Memphis, Harrell Theater, and Desoto Family Theater as well, where she has added to her resume: Cassandra in Cats, Chanel in Bark!, Lily St. Regis in Annie, Kitty/Swing in Chicago, and Val in A Chorus Line. Lynden is excited about bringing her love for the theater to the students of Riverdale.

She has been a finalist/sweepstakes winner both as a soloist and as a member of the vocal group, Reality, in both the Mid-South Fair and Delta Fair. She was in the All SouthWest and All State Honor Choirs for 6 consecutive years. She was very active in musical productions at Bellevue Baptist Church and was a frequent soloist in the Singing Christmas Tree. She also enjoys playing piano and harp. Throughout her education, she has been trained in the acting styles of Meisner, Uta Hagen, Stanislovski, Brecht, and Shakespeare. Her dance training includes intermediate levels in hip hop, ballet, tap, and jazz. Due to her annual trips to New York and steady involvement with different directors/theaters, she is up-to-date with the current audition techniques for both musical theater and film.

What was the most wonderful moment as the director of Into the Woods Jr.?

There are so many great moments along the way in rehearsal: students finally discovering his or her character, a cast member finally nailing a really hard note, adding lights and costumes, etc. However, my favorite part as a director is definitely Opening Night. Finally handing over the control to the students. It is the night where all of their hard work pays off and they get to present something they are so proud of.

Who would you like to thank for making Into the Woods Jr. such a success?

So many! Melanie, Amie, Jessica, and Stephen for being such great teacher sponsors and always going to battle for me. Also, the parent volunteers for the countless hours spent creating my crazy ideas.

Explain why Into the Woods Jr. is such a good play for a K-8 school?

Into the Woods ended up being such a great choice for our K-8 school because it really gave the opportunity to offer some attention to those students who live and breath theatre. It is a small enough cast to offer some one on one work with the actors but still large enough to offer ensemble work. The younger students really had the opportunity to see how the older kids worked and it pushed them. On the flip side, I think the older students felt the responsibility to setting a good example for the younger ones. This show is SO challenging vocally. Everything is set to music, even the dialogue. I'm so thankful for such a committed cast and crew who worked hard on and off the stage.

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