Family resemblance: Forty NMS researchers portray 'Wax Museum' characters, focusing on families

Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Nevada Middle School eighth graders Tayvia Meek, left, as Judy Garland and Ali Celaya as Garland's daughter, fellow actress and singer Liza Minnelli, take turns telling their life stories at the school's Wax Museum last Thursday.

Historical figures as varied as the Kennedy brothers, the Bronte sisters and the James brothers came alive during Nevada Middle School's "All in the Family" Wax Museum programs last week.

As part of the school's 27th annual historical presentations, 40 students combined in pairs and trios to show the costumes and backdrops they had searched attics and flea markets for and tell their stories as living characters.

Following afternoon presentations May 10 to school groups in four settings in the NMS Gymnasium, the students reconvened that night to show parents and the public the results of their work.

Accelerated science teacher Angie Landoll, one of four faculty members sponsoring the project, said the teachers choose the theme and the characters and assign the eighth graders to do research and write three to five-page papers.

Landoll said students sometimes state disinterest in his or her character, but they usually change their minds after studying the pertinent history.

"It's a cross-disciplinary project for students in accelerated language arts, accelerated social studies and accelerated science," she said, noting the respective co-sponsorships of teachers Amy Smith and Erin McCullough and Library Media Specialist Amy Hertzberg.

"A lot of seventh graders sign up for Wax Museum so they can be involved the next year," Landoll said, adding that past themes have been "Authors and Inventors," "The Presidents" and the highlights of past programs for the 25th anniversary two years ago.

Playing the late multi-talented entertainer Judy Garland, Tayvia Meek said she first saw Garland in her incandescent movie role as "Dorothy" in "The Wizard of Oz" at age 6. "I loved the movie and her song," said Tayvia, who sang from "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" during her presentations.

Ali Celaya portrayed Garland's daughter Liza Minnelli, saying she was astonished that Minnelli had rebounded from a dire diagnosis of viral encephalitis in 2000 and returned to singing, dancing and acting in 2002.

Portraying Henry VIII (1491-1547), a royally attired Connor West had disliked learning the English king had had two of his six wives executed.

"He was just cruel," Connor said. "His father had kept him locked in a room that only his father could open because he was afraid Henry was going to have too much power."

Connor said the young future sovereign's personality might have been negatively affected by a jousting accident in which he suffered serious head and leg injuries.

Kaylee Farmer portrayed Anne Boleyn, whom Henry VIII had executed, while Carsten Warner was in the role of Anne's sister Mary. Kaylee and Carsten said their characters had many romantic relationships, but both women had redeeming qualities and accomplishments, such as Anne's establishment of Christian chapels.

Others who took part in the programs were Sam Creasy, Chaden Brandt and Brett Mitchell as John, Robert and Ted Kennedy; Taylor Remington, Tommi Julian and Chelsea Snead as 19th Century English authors Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte; Matthew Barrett and Andrei Ziabchenko as 19th Century English naturalist Charles Darwin and his grandfather Erasmus; Skyler Scotten and Hanna Miller as actor Warren Beatty and his sister Shirley MacLaine; Karsten Ast and Andrew Heathman as President George W. Bush and his brother Jeb; Megan Payne and Kayler Ast as American authors Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter Rose Wilder Lane and Olivia Doak and Riley Gordon as the distantly related actresses Katharine and Audrey Hepburn.

Hannah Quitno, left, and Isabel Serna portray actress Ingrid Bergman and Bergman's daughter, Isabella Rossellini.

Levi Palmer and Zane Shepherd were the 19th Century outlaws Frank and Jesse James of Clay County, Mo.; Cooper and Kaylee Smith movie director Ron Howard and his daughter Bryce Dallas; Dalton Bruce and Regar Hardin American tycoon John D. Rockefeller Sr. and his grandson Nelson; Elienor Pruitt and Emily Dunlap the advice columnists Ann Landers and her sister Abigail van Buren; Michael Geeding and Alexis Overton the actor John Cusack and his sister Joan; Connor Bobbett and Trevor Crews the English Princes Charles and Andrew; Grant Wilson, Jarod Schmidt and Morgan Ernsbarger the Presidents and First Lady Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt; Hannah Quitno and Isabel Serna the actresses Ingrid Bergman and her daughter Isabella Rossellini; and Kyla Smith and Emily Harth the singers Naomi Judd and her daughter Wynonna.

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