Snow White’s 7 dwarfs to tell all at MI-B’s Merritt Elementary

Cast members of the Camp Broadway production of Snow White Musicapalooza practice on the Merritt School stage in Mountain Iron. The play will be performed July 19 at 7 p.m.

MOUNTAIN IRON — If you’ve ever wondered the “real story” of Snow White, well, there are seven dwarfs ready to spill the beans.

Yep, that’s right. The dwarfs will tell all during a live talk show Friday at Mountain Iron-Buhl’s Merritt Elementary School auditorium.

The public is invited to become the live studio audience of “Real Talk with Fairytale Legends.”

It’s all part of Camp Broadway’s presentation of “The Snow White Musicapalooza!” The camp is among a series of brand-new STEAM programs being offered through the Iron Range Collaboration this summer.

The Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board provided six Range school districts in the collaboration with a $350,000 grant to run the Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics camps for kids in fifth to eighth grade.

“It’s a great partnership,” said MI-B Superintendent Dr. Reggie Engebritson. The camps, which launched in early June and run through the beginning of August, are designed to spark interest in science and the arts.

They range from “The Wonderful World of Welding;” “Robot Antics,” and “How Did I Get Sick? Infection Detectives” to “Fun with Clay,” “Script Writing and Movie Making,” and “American Indian Art.”

The free camps are a chance for Range students to experience some of the same opportunities during the summer as kids in larger areas, Engebritson said.

The IRRRB funding covers instructor wages, supplies, and breakfast and lunch, along with transportation, to all campers in the participating MI-B, St. Louis County Schools, Mesabi East, Ely, Chisholm, and Hibbing districts.

Camps are held at the various schools, using buildings not typically occupied in the summer. They also “tap into the skills of the teachers here,” Engebritson said, and provide area instructors with income so they don’t have to seek supplemental summer work elsewhere.

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Thirteen students in the second of this summer’s two Camp Broadway sessions gathered at MI-B Thursday afternoon to rehearse for the Musicapalooza show.

They were about halfway into just 13 days of rehearsals before Friday’s live performance of the full-length musical. The show, at 7 p.m., is open to the public with a free-will donation.

“I’m really impressed with the kids,” said Mike Rouse, choir director at the Ely school, who is co-directing the musical with Crystal Poppler, a teacher at Northeast Range School in Babbitt. It’s a very short time to learn all the lines and musical numbers, he noted.

Each day Camp Broadway begins with warm-ups, breakfast and then a morning rehearsal, followed by lunch and an afternoon practice.

“For some of the kids, this is their first time in a show. Some have done this before,” he said.

Rouse added, “it’s really neat to have kids from all different schools.”

The cast consists of students from Cherry, Chisholm, Ely, Mesabi East in Aurora, MI-B, Northeast Range, and North Woods School in Cook.

The first Camp Broadway was held last month at Northeast Range, with the well-attended public performance on June 21.

Rouse said during a rehearsal day in Babbitt he witnessed two kids from different schools sitting across the table from each other. They joked, “We shouldn’t be talking to each other,” he said.

But “they should,” he added. That’s part of what the collaboration strives to do — bring kids from across the Iron Range together.

“I’ve made two new best friends,” both from Northeast Range, 12-year-old Mia Domiano, who is entering seventh grade at Mesabi East, said during the campers’ outdoor lunch break Thursday at MI-B.

“Camp is amazing,” said Mia, who plays “the fake Snow White.”

Yes, you read that correctly. The “fairest of them all” seems to have an impersonator. The “real Snow White,” however, is revealed at the end of the musical.

“The play is pretty awesome,” Mia added.

On one side of the stage, the talk show takes place, with the seven dwarfs as the guests telling their versions of the “real story” of Snow White. On the other, the “Fairytale Players” bring the dwarfs’ tales to life.

“As each new dwarf takes a turn telling or singing different parts of Snow White’s famous story in his or her own unique voice, the players’ re-enactment shifts to match the style and personality of that particular dwarf,” Rouse said.

“One of the dwarfs is country western,” he said. “Another is a little bit rock ’n’ roll.”

Eighth grader Wren Galloway, who plays the part of talk show host, Heidi, revealed during an opening scene at the rehearsal that the audience will “get the dirt directly from the source” — from the dwarfs: Rowdy, Howdy, Nerdy, Weepy, Creepy, a poet named Wordy, and Bob.

“At any given moment, the story can be anything — romance, home improvement show, suspense, epic poetry, cooking show, stand-up routine, or blockbuster action movie,” Rouse said.

One of the numbers, “This Old Cottage,” is a spoof on the television show, “This Old House.”

There’s even a “Miss Fairest of Them All” beauty pageant.

“I’ve really enjoyed camp,” said Wren, who has performed with the local Small Parts Players children’s theater company. “There are a lot of funny parts in the show.”

“It’s pretty fun to get to do this in the summer,” added 13-year-old Leighton Helander, an eighth grader at MI-B, where he as performed in school plays.

“There is no cost to the participants. They are transported (to and from) their home districts,” Rouse said. “It’s a wonderful gift. I’m really sold” on the STEAM camps, he said.

Brownie Furniture of Mountain Iron lent the couch and tables for the set, even delivering them to the school, he noted. “It truly is a community collaboration.”

Rouse added, “the kids are having fun and really working hard. I’m so proud of them.”

Not to mention, all the fun to come during the live show. Everyone who attends “The Snow White Musicapalooza!” based on the book by Brian D. Taylor, with music by Scott Deturk, will learn “the true story behind Snow White,” he laughed.

Of course, just like in real life, everyone has a bit of a different take on events. And the dwarfs prove they each have their own versions of the story.

As the real Snow White enters the stage, the dwarfs sing a song about some untruths they have told. “We are in a mess here. We are in distress here.”

The song continues: “Everyone likes to rewrite their story; a little more glitz and a little more glory.”

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Engebritson said other schools are welcome to join the collaboration, and “we hope expand (the camps) to ninth to 12th grade” next summer.

There has been a “great response” so far. Kids have learned about everything from computer coding to cooking. During one camp, students dissected a sheep’s brain, she said. During another, campers used MI-B’s Makerspace to create a design for backpacks and mugs.

“Who knows what they will tap into” that might just lead to future careers, the superintendent added.

And “kids at this age are still open-minded,” she said. They are meeting kids from other schools and learning that they can all work together.

Jace Matuszak and Lillia Elmberg, students from Mesabi East and Cherry, said the very best part of camp has been “making friends from different schools.”

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