A Review of Moana, Jr.

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The story of Moana Jr. is one of Disney’s most beloved tales. When audience members arrived at Fee Theater on March 3rd and 4th with high expectations, Casady Middle Schoolers did not disappoint. The performers received a standing ovation from a full house both nights. With a cast consisting of over sixty students from grades 5th-8th, stage manager Mrs. McQuade, music director Mrs. Knous, choreographer Mrs. Davis, and director Mr. Dema rose to the occasion with a task more daunting than directing the average middle school performance. Mr. Dema noted that it was “the largest show I’ve ever directed.”

The plot follows a young girl by the name of Moana, played by Aanika Kumar (’26), who is tasked with returning the Heart of Tefiti to the goddess, played by Olivia Chapman (’26), from whom it was stolen by the demigod Maui, played by Christopher Bankhead (’26). Along the way, Moana meets the demigod himself and encourages him to put on his ‘warrior face’ and join her in her quest. The pair encounters an underworld teeming with greedy monsters, a vengeful fire demon, and their own internal struggles with who they want to be and how far they are willing to go in order to save the world. The show delighted audiences with the addition of music and vibrant choreography as actors danced through the story and into the final number, “You’re Welcome.” Mr. Dema explained that the success was due largely in part to the actor’s “desire to commit to the roles in an entertaining way.”

The cast not only met expectations, but surpassed them. This should come as no surprise, considering the months of tireless rehearsals leading up to the performance. “It was nice to see all the steps we had in rehearsal come together, especially being in tech since I was able to watch the process with a birds-eye-view,” said Grae Zedlitz (’26). However, the students who participated in making the show the hit that it was weren’t only middle schoolers. Tech theater volunteer Mason Northrup (’26) worked closely with Zedlitz and said that he “enjoy[s] working in theater for high school, and decided that […] the middle schools plays [are] fun, too.”

Casady Middle Division theater students wait anxiously for the upcoming announcement from Mr. Dema regarding next year’s performances, and hope to have another Moana Jr. success.