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Stone Soup Holds The Golden Ticket

(Photo courtesy of Stone Soup Children’s Musical Theater)
The cast of Stone Soup Children’s Musical Theater production of “Willy Wonka Jr.” rehearse for the musical, which will be on stage for three performances this Friday and Saturday at Noblesville High School. Tickets are available online and at the door.

If you want a lead role in Joey Murello’s Stone Soup summer youth musical, you have to show the director that you can handle it.

Once she sees and hears firsthand the talents of those participating in the Stone Soup Children’s Musical Theater summer program, she chooses a show that highlights their talents.

“I always have a handful of shows in my head but the children’s talent chooses the show,” she said. “I watch them all summer and choose a show that highlights the talent.”

Stone Soup Children’s Theater will perform “Willy Wonka Jr.” at 7 p.m. Friday and at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday at Noblesville High School, 18111 Cumberland Road, Noblesville.

This year’s cast of 42 is made up of boys and girls, ages 5-13. Rehearsals started on May 6 with a first read-through, and the cast rehearsing 9 a.m. to noon weekdays, she said.

What’s it been like to direct this show? And what about the challenges?

“This show has been fun to direct,” Murello said. “Every show has challenges, but they vary depending on the cast. Every summer is a new cast …. This group is chatty, but aren’t they all?” She said, “We had ups and downs but as always the cast rallies together and creates magic. I am so proud of these young actors.”

Audiences will love the music in this show. The cast members had to learn 21 songs, which have been a big part of rehearsals. Among the tunes are “Pure Imagination,” “Candy Man,” “Ooompa-Loompa,” and the “Burping Song.”

“I’m not sure what my favorite songs would be,” she said. “Probably one the kids sing.”

(Photo courtesy of Stone Soup Children’s Musical Theater)
The cast of Stone Soup Children’s Musical Theater rehearses on stage for the production of “Willy Wonka Jr.”

Murello said teaching and learning choreography, “it took a whole team.” She said, “I choreographed some, my producer and a student all choreographed.”

What Murello enjoys most about directing the kids shows? “I’ve enjoyed watching the growth over the last few years.”

It’s Murello’s seventh show to direct. The Stone Soup Musical Theater program means a lot to her and has made a huge impact in her life.

“I was a part of this program as a child, and now as an adult. I consider it an honor to provide the Stone Soup values to future actors,” said Murello, 38, who during dress rehearsals usually motors around on the stage in her power wheelchair. A 2002 graduate of Noblesville High School, she was a middle-school student when she was diagnosed with Friedreich’s ataxia, a disease that affects motor skills and started with poor coordination and clumsiness and worsened in high school.

Murello, a graduate of Anderson University with a General Education degree, sang in her high school’s show choir and acted as a child in at least seven shows with Stone Soup, starting in 1991 as an actress and aging out in 1998, and performed in plays and musicals as a kid at The Belfry Theatre, where her mom, the late Connie Murello-Todd, directed 22 shows from 2002 until 2017, including 14 Belfry Apprentice Players summer youth productions. She also performed at NHS from 1999 to 2002.

Being around theater all of her life, Murello doesn’t like when the stage is dark, like it was during the Covid-19. Back then, she wasn’t sure how the pandemic would affect interest in her show. But she was pleasantly surprised.

Contact Betsy Reason at betsy.reason@aol.com