‘Songs of the New World’ benefits Troy Resilience Project

Published 9:15 pm Wednesday, February 26, 2020

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Four local performers came together on Saturday night to present “Songs for a New World” by Jason Robert Brown benefitting the Troy Resilience Project.

“In addition to being a wonderful performance, this event was a benefit to the Troy Resilience Project with the fitting themes of resilience and growth resonating throughout the performance,” said Dr. Elizabeth Dawson.

Dawson established the nonprofit in 2019 to educate the Troy community about the effects of toxic stress on the developing brain and body of children, and how individuals and the community can build resilience in its youth and their families.

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“When the performers first started brainstorming about the show, they came up with several words that helped them get to their final product: hope, generations, resilience, growth, support, and community,” Dawson said. “The message behind the show is universal and they felt the audience would be able to relate to a struggle that the characters faced. As we all progress through life, we encounter situations and circumstances that change us and offer us the opportunity to create a new world. The performers hope that the show helped the audience to accept change and growth within themselves and promote it in those around them.”

The four performers of the production were Judith Park, Grace Wagstaff, Tyler McClellan and Hunter Williams.

Park is originally from Decatur, and obtained her bachelor’s degree from Troy University in Theatre Arts in 2012. She is currently finishing her Master’s degree in Secondary English Language Arts at UAB. She has taught and directed theatre at Charles Henderson High School for the past seven years.

Wagstaff is an alumna of Troy University with an undergraduate degree from the department of Theatre and Dance and a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Grace works as a coach in various areas including performance, health and wellness. She also works as a mental health counselor.

McClellan is a junior theatre major at Troy University who was born and raised in Birmingham. Tyler played Guitar-man and dance captain in “Bye Bye Birdie” and Benvolio in “Romeo and Juliet” in Ohio as a part of a professional theatre company. He is currently cast as Munkstrap in Troy Theatre and Dance’s production of Cats.

Williams is a current resident of Troy from Valley. He spent the last summer working as the Head Instructor for Drama at Camp Lohican in Lake Como, Pennsylvania, where he was responsible for directing four shows as well as improvisation and musical theatre clinics. Hunter is currently a vocal coach for students of Charles Henderson High school.

Troy Resilience Project invites the whole community to join them and Troy Church March 1 for a neighborhood hangout at Troy Elementary School from 4-6 p.m. Activities include art, music, yoga, and dance for kids and the film “Resilience: The biology of stress and the science of hope” for parents and caregivers as well as food for all. More information can be found at the project’s Facebook page.