ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Shelly Thompson’s voice is a little hoarse in this interview – the result of calling out directions to the cast and crew of Marion Junior/Senior High School’s Beauty and the Beast, which hits the stage this weekend.
A legend in the local high school musical scene, Thompson cut out a few minutes during intermission at dress rehearsal to talk about her passion for inspiration.
Adam Chodak: I have to go over all that you do. German teacher at Marion, direct musicals at Marion, direct and do choreography at Pittsford Sutherland, sometimes you do Pittsford Musicals…
Shelly Thompson: I teach college English,,,
AC: You also perform all over the place.
ST: I’m in The Krazy Firemen.
AC: Where do you get the energy?
ST: I don’t know. I’ve always had this energy and that’s why I love to teach and I just love it. In fact I have to drink decaffeinated coffee.
AC: What is it about high school that drew you?
ST: It’s inspiring to see them start the show and at the end they’re so confident… You can tell a musical kid that does a presentation because they know how to do it. They don’t look at the board, they don’t look at their notes. They present it. I have a couple special needs kids in the show and it’s really good for them.
AC: You do a remarkable job with choreography every year for Stars of Tomorrow and News 8 is a partner in that. You’ve worked with a number of folks who became Stars of Tomorrow… Steve Rosen, Leehom Wang. What is that like?
ST: It’s just amazing because I worked with them when they were just little high school guys and I remember Steve would always say, “Why am I the leading man? I’m not the leading man look”, adding, “I can’t dance” and I said, “But you will!”
AC: Your husband was also in education at Marion, he retired, asking you to retire…
ST: He’s older than me, I keep reminding him of that. He says you’re not a child and I say no, but a child at heart.
AC: If there are any kids watching this and perhaps a little scared of musicals, stage fright and all that, what’s your message to them?
ST: I always say start out small. It’s such a great experience for kids because it’s like a little family, you spend so much time together.