Dreams can come true, or at least that was the case for Jasper Bickers, an eighth grade graduate of Carlton Washburn Middle School in Winnetka, whose original musical Someday was performed in a musical theater class at Washburne in May.
Someday is about a princess whose father dies and she is forced to make a decision that changes the lives of everyone in the kingdom, Jasper told DailyNorthShore.
The musical takes place in a fantasy kingdom, where dragons and princesses live, according to Jasper. While the musical isn’t necessarily sad, Jasper describes the ending as melancholy, because the princess and her true love are exiled from the kingdom and nobody knows they are alive.
While the musical may have been melancholy, for Jasper the experience of bringing his own musical to production was overwhelming joyful. “I love playwriting and composition. Combining the two was kind of a dream come true,” he said.
Jasper began writing the musical at the beginning of seventh grade, which includes some dialogue and 25 original songs. “It was the first major project I have ever created in my life,” Jasper said.
In preparation, Jasper listened to many musicals and read scripts. He was particularly influenced by the musicals Wicked and Into the Woods. From Wicked Jasper learned how captivating a story can be even if it is tragic, through amazing music, acting and writing. Into the Woods focused on one of his favorite literary genres — fairytales.
Jasper had worked on his first draft for about three months, when he asked his theater teacher Amy Markos if it could be performed at school. Markos was receptive to the idea, as long as Jasper could complete the project before the musical theatre class.
Jasper said he spent a lot of time writing the musical, which originally was 40 pages too long. But he worked with Markos on revisions, ultimately editing the musical down to an hour and fifteen minute production.
“It was definitely challenging but it is something I plan on doing multiple times in my life,” he said. Next year Jasper will be heading to New Trier High School, where he intends to pursue his passion for musical theater.
Computer software programs were used to pre-record much of the music, while some songs were accompanied by a piano or other string instruments. As for composing the music, Jasper said that he is largely self-taught, relying on his experience playing the violin and what he has learned from reading books.
While he professes a love for writing, his passion is music composition. “Writing music is a little bit bigger for me than playwriting,” he said.
The musical was entirely produced by students, including the set, costumes, lighting, sound, acting, and of course the writing itself. In addition to the experience of bringing a musical to stage, Jasper’s favorite part was working with the students and teachers at Washburne. “I couldn’t have had a better group of students and teachers. The students were just as supportive as the teachers and I am very grateful for that,” he said.
He advises other kids interested in writing musicals to just write down their ideas and get it produced. “I don’t think that there is anything that can improve a show as well as a production can,” he said.
The entire experience was a teaching moment for Jasper, who feels like he learned so many things. “The experience of being able to produce my own show at my school has been priceless,” Jasper said.