Myles Gilbert

Photo by ANGELA H. HILL

Franklin County High School Senior Myles Gilbert, left, rehearses a scene from ‘The Greatest Showman’ with fellow student Alexa Pappacoda after school on April 1.

Photo by ANGELA H. HILL Myles Gilbert, a senior at Franklin County High School, leads a cast of 15 students in an April 1 rehearsal of a dance scene from “The Greatest Showman.” Left to right is Caroline Eames, Andrew Long, Tyrael Gilbert, Summer Carlson, Myles Gilbert, Logann Hodges, Alexa Pappacoda, and Hannah Bussey.

By ANGELA H. HILL

In between classes, homework, sports, and college applications; Franklin County High School senior Myles Gilbert has somehow found the time to direct, cast and produce a musical drama with 15 fellow classmates.

On May 13, at 7 p.m., the group will present an adaptation of “The Greatest Showman” at the high-school auditorium. Admission is free.

Why take on such a project? For Gilbert, it’s about sharing his passion for singing and dancing with his classmates, celebrating one of his favorite movies, and developing both teamwork and independence in himself and his classmates through a student-led project.

“It’s been kind of crazy to be honest,” Gilbert said, “but I’ve had lot of help from teachers and administrators and some of the students.”

Plus, in his spare time, he’s selling donated cupcakes and shirts in front of the auditorium before school to raise money for costumes, scenery and props. Those items were donated by local businesses Kupkakery and Arrington Sports & Awards Screenprinting.

He said he’s also received positive feedback from Shively Electric, Franklin Heating and Air, and Julie Kingery of RE/MAX Realty regarding donating funds. Gilbert’s goal is a total $800.

All the work aside, Gilbert loves what he’s doing and said he’s motivated by the message in the music.

“I always wanted to act and sing and dance and then I did the school musical ‘Working’ and I was like, yeah, I like this. I love this. It got me to do my own show.”

He’s eyeing both Old Dominion University and New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts next year, planning to pursue a degree in theater.

In speaking to why he chose to perform a modification of “The Greatest Showman,” Gilbert shared that “to me, the movie makes a big deal about celebrating everyone’s differences because we weren’t made to all be the same.

“I have a strong feeling that by putting on this re-enactment for the community, I can portray the same message through the songs that I have chosen, which includes the songs ‘This is Me’ and ‘Come Alive.’”

Produced in 2017 and directed by Michael Gracey, “The Greatest Showman” revolves around the early days of P.T. Barnum and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The film was nominated at the Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and the song “This is Me” won a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. “This is Me” was nominated for the same honor at the 90th Academy Awards.

Cara Spivey, a chemistry teacher at Franklin County High School, said she hopes the community will come out to support Gilbert and his cast. She met Gilbert at the Jostens Renaissance National Conference — a conference dedicated to student leadership — last summer in Orlando. She was instantly impressed.

“I was genuinely touched by this high-school student stepping out on a limb to follow something he’s passionate about. That’s something Franklin County always rallies behind … He’s organizing his own event because he wants more people to know ‘this is something that makes me happy, and we can all be happy doing this together.’”

Spivey said Gilbert’s leadership skills are also on-point, and the ease with which he approaches businesses goes beyond his status as a high-school senior. “I think Myles will be a big loss to the high school, but a big gain for the world.”

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