Public invited to 5th-annual dinner theater at Lakewood High School

School’s choirs prep for festival

BY IVY MOORE
Special to The Sumter Item
Posted 1/24/18

When the Lakewood High School Chamber Choir presents its 5th Annual Madrigal Dinner Theater on Friday evening, music and drama will take those attending back to the Renaissance when the madrigal form was at its height. The …

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Public invited to 5th-annual dinner theater at Lakewood High School

School’s choirs prep for festival

Lakewood High School Chamber Choir will present its 5th Annual Madrigal Dinner Theater at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Lakewood High School, 350 Old Manning Road. Proceeds will benefit programs and travel expenses for Lakewood's fine arts department.
Lakewood High School Chamber Choir will present its 5th Annual Madrigal Dinner Theater at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Lakewood High School, 350 Old Manning Road. Proceeds will benefit programs and travel expenses for Lakewood's fine arts department.
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When the Lakewood High School Chamber Choir presents its 5th Annual Madrigal Dinner Theater on Friday evening, music and drama will take those attending back to the Renaissance when the madrigal form was at its height. The 6:30 p.m. program at Lakewood will feature choral, drama and art students from Sumter School District's gifted and talented program in full costume, as well as a catered meal.

Lakewood choral director Herbert Johnson said the Madrigal Dinner "serves as a cross-curricular collaboration which we take pride in producing every year." He added that "Our former superintendent, Dr. Frank Baker, (called it) the best school artistic program that he has ever attended ."

Johnson promises a "fun-filled and entertaining event that is also a cultural and educational experience."

Drama students will present a skit titled "The Sword in the Stone," based on a part of the King Arthur legend. While Arthur's actual existence is still debated, his legend endures.

The dinner, Johnson said, will be catered by a parent booster who has a catering business and will comprise a roasted chicken dinner with accompanying sides and dessert, concluding "with our annual New Year's toast with apple cider also called wassail during the Renaissance."

Tickets to the Madrigal Dinner have sold out each of the previous four years, he said. They may be purchased or reserved by calling (803) 506-2700. Tickets for the 6:30 p.m. Friday Madrigal Dinner Theater are $15 for individuals, $25 for couples.

Proceeds from the 5th Annual Madrigal Dinner at Lakewood High School will be used to offset production costs of the dinner and future activities and events, as well as transportation expenses.

Lakewood Fine Arts Activities

In late March, two Lakewood High School choirs will participate in the S.C. choral festival in Columbia, where the ensembles have consistently received Superior and Excellent ratings.

"Amazingly for the past two years, my choirs have received instant standing ovations from the entire audience including judges," a rare occurrence at such competitions, Johnson said.

Last month, Johnson's mentor, Sonja Sepulveda, worked with the Lakewood choir, founder of the South Carolina choral festival, "sharing real-life experiences and new techniques from a collegiate and professional perspective," Johnson said. "Working with someone of her caliber helps to instill pride and excitement into each of my students."

Sepulveda, a Sumter native, is director of choral activities and professor of music theory at Salem College in Winston-Salem, N.C., and conducts the Salem Chamber Choir and Chorale. She is also a resident conductor at Carnegie Hall and conducts internationally during the summers.

In April, the Lakewood vocal jazz group will give a 25-minute solo performance at the New York City Jazz Festival held at the Apollo Theatre, where several other vocal jazz ensembles, including headliners, the world-famous "The Real Group" of Stockholm, Sweden.

Lorne Lee, music instructor at Morris College, is composing an original piece titled "You Make Life Romantic," which the Lakewood vocal jazz group will premier at the festival. Lee received his master's degree in composition from Howard University.

In May, the Sumter Civic Chorale, also directed by Johnson, will join the Sumter High School Orchestra and Lakewood High School choir to perform the Schubert Mass in G. Johnson said the community will be invited to sing along.

For more information about Lakewood choral activities, contact Johnson at Herbert.Johnson@sumterschools.net.