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South Salt Lake Journal

Comedy, tragedy, family are some show themes for Cottonwood’s theatre season

Nov 07, 2023 03:21PM ● By Julie Slama

Cottonwood High’s improvisation team is seen here rehearsing early in the school year prior. (Photo courtesy of Sammie Vance)

Cottonwood High thespians will plunge into their season with the dynamic production of “The SpongeBob Musical” this fall.

Through a tidal wave of original songs by well-known recording artists, the student-actors will sing and dance and come together to save the fate of their undersea world after a volcano eruption.

“I love this play,” Cottonwood High theatre director Adam Wilkins said. “I always think ‘SpongeBob’ is a show that is better than it should be. The characters are quirky and different yet fun and relatable, and they make some great iconic moments. What makes the show unique is the fact the songs are from incredible artists like David Bowie, Aerosmith, John Legend, Cyndi Lauper. It’s an incredible rock score. It’s just so much fun.”

The family-friendly show will be performed at 7 p.m., Nov. 15 through Nov. 18 as well as at noon on Nov. 18 on the school stage, 5715 S. 1300 East. Tickets are $10 and are available at

Wilkins said that not only does this give students a chance to explore more current musical theatre, but it appeals to everyone. 

“It’s an iconic children’s animated television show, yet it appeals to adult fantasy. The actors are literally playing anthropomorphic sponges and amoebas and it’s so creative. My amazing costumer helps bring magic to it as the students are embodying these characters to life,” he said about the 80 actors on the stage who began rehearsals in late August.

Joining the actors will be a pit orchestra of about 55 student-musicians and 20 tech crew students.

“It’s very much a production that where all our students are engaged and are given the opportunity to learn, but they’re having fun at the same time,” Wilkins said.

Some of the students may have taken part in the new Granite School District’s youth theatre program that Wilkins directed this past summer. It attracted about 75 junior high and high school students across the Salt Lake Valley to learn more theatrical skills as well as perform in a showcase.

“It was much larger than we expected for our first year. We were thrilled to provide this opportunity for the community. It was so successful and fun,” he said.

After “SpongeBob,” the student-actors will perform a Broadway Revue and melodrama in late January.

“Our students will have the opportunity to not only choose the show, but get that opportunity to direct it,” he said, adding that it will be in October when the material for the melodrama and Broadway Revue is chosen.

Following that, Wilkins will direct William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” in mid-March, 2024. Tickets will be $10.

“I am absolutely thrilled over the moon to be able to do ‘Romeo and Juliet’ for our community. I reread it this summer, and I realized how funny, how dramatic, how action-packed, how tragic it is. There’s a reason people study in high school. It’s one of, if not the most, well-known Shakespearean shows, and therefore one of the most well-known plays ever written,” he said.

Wilkins’ students will compete in March 2024 at the 4A region competition with individual pieces as well as with their one-act ensemble piece, “Triangle.” 

The show takes the audience back to the immigrant experience in Manhattan where many immigrant girls were hired as seamstresses to sew dresses 14 hours per day. When a cigarette was tossed into a bin of fabric scraps, flames engulfed the 500 workers in less than 30 minutes, ending with the death 146 people. Through eyewitness accounts of Ukrainian seamstresses to millionaire Fifth Avenue socialites as well as court transcripts from the manslaughter trial of the factory’s owners, the play explores the flaws in the working conditions and the fire, known as the “fire that changed America” at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory on March 25, 1911.

“The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire is a historic landmark event that helped lead to workplace safety regulations. Even so, it’s tragic and terrible of these women who were locked in, trapped in a burning building. It’s very tragic, very heavy, but it’s incredible and truly marvel for our students to have this epic story that they’re going to undertake,” he said. “This show deserves an audience, especially now as we have the UAW, the auto workers on strike right now, and we have the SAG-AFTRA Writers Guild union on strike so it’s interesting these workers are fighting injustice. It’s fortuitous that these types of conversations are happening in the community and for our students to learn about.”

Wilkins said that the thespians will perform their region and state pieces in a showcase in mid-April 2024. Tickets will be $5. State will be held in mid-April.

“We’re in a new region so it’s a new challenge for us and it’s exciting. We have some schools that we’ve never interacted with on a competition basis so that’ll be fun. Cottonwood has an amazing tradition of placing top three in the region and top 10 in state every year since the schools been built (in 1970) so it’s our challenge to sustain that high level of excellence and tradition,” he said.

The Colts’ final show will be “The Addams Family.”

“It’s a great show and a good contrast between ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Triangle.’ It will be a good way to end the year with a quirky family and hilarity ensues. There’s great music, a fun script about family and finding your identity, classic characters and a comedic show that has a beautiful heart to it,” Wilkins said.

The show will be performed at 7 p.m., May 1-4, 2024 as well as a noon matinee on May 4 in the school’s Black Box Theater. Tickets are $10.

The school’s improv 16-member team will perform about eight shows throughout the school year, starting in October. The dates will be posted on λ