Braves showcase Broadway in fifth annual show

by Dec 9, 2023A&E, COMMUNITY sgadugi0 comments


One Feather Asst. Editor


CHEROKEE, N.C. – Songs and dances from Broadway filled the Chief Joyce Dugan Cultural Arts Center on the evening of Friday, Dec. 8.  Students in the Cherokee Central Schools Dance and Musical Theatre Program put on the 5th Annual Braves on Broadway show.  The show was dedicated to the memory of Cynthia Saunooke, a dance and musical theatre student who passed away recently.


Tyruss Thompson performs ‘I Need to Know’ from “Jekyll & Hyde” during the 5th Annual Braves on Broadway show by the Cherokee Central Schools Dance and Musical Theatre Dept. The show was held at the Chief Joyce Dugan Cultural Arts Center on the evening of Friday, Dec. 8. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather photos)

“This is our fifth annual Braves on Broadway and we’re so excited to be able to do it again,” said Valerie Deitz Tissue, Cherokee Central School dance and musical theatre director.  “I love the showcase feel that we do because it truly is a way to let all the kids shine. Whatever their strength is, we can really pull all of those and say, ‘you’re great at this. You’re great at that’. We have all kinds of students in the show. We have so many exciting opportunities.”

She added, “There’s so much talent on the stage that when we do a book musical, sometimes you don’t get to see all of that. So, a showcase is a great way to really highlight what they can do and do well.”

Kyleigh Sherman is a senior and performed a solo entitled ‘On My Own’ from “Les Miserables”.  When asked what drew her to musical theatre, she replied, “Just performing…you work all semester towards the actual performance itself. So, performing…it draws all of that out and it makes you feel like, ‘wow, that was actually really worth it’. It’s a really good feeling to finally perform what you’ve been working on for so long. I’m just really drawn to that part of it. I like to perform.”

For Noqwisi Crowe, a junior, musical theatre has helped her come out of her shell.  “I was drawn to it at first because you all know that I was quiet and I didn’t talk, literally, at all. So, this class helped me talk more about how I’m kind of talking right now. They all helped me, too…Kyleigh, Dayvian, Gideon, Corbin, Tyruss, and Gabe, and some of the previous ones that were here last year…they all helped me. Now, I love performing.”

Tissue and the students all spoke about the musical theatre at Cherokee Central Schools being a support structure and a family – more than just a class.

“I think the family that we create here, truly, I think this is where these kids feel safe, and they feel like they belong, and they feel like they’re important, and they feel like they matter, and they do – all of those things,” said Tissue.  “This is just their place to feel that where some kids feel that on the football field and some kids feel that wherever it may be, they feel it in theater. So, it’s so important to support it and be a part of it. It’s just a beautiful thing.”

Destyni Johnson was featured as ‘Elsa’ as the high school dance performed ‘Let it Go’ from “Frozen”.

She added, “We work really hard to create that environment from day one in class every year, every semester, that this is a no-judgement zone. It has to be a safe place or else you can’t feel free to express yourself. That’s what expressing yourself is all about. If you don’t feel free in it, you’re not going to do it and stay.”

Sherman noted, “We’re definitely a family. We’ll fight like a family. But we’re always in it. I remember when I was in eighth grade, my first year of doing musical theater, I wasn’t too outgoing, as much as I am now, because I was like, ‘people are going to make fun of me. People aren’t going to like me’. So when I got into theater, I was still barely moving, barely doing anything, looking around all awkward…then I got into it and became more comfortable. It’s like a no-judgement zone. You know that you can be yourself. I guess where we’re all ourselves so much around each other for the past couple years, we just have grown together because we’re comfortable with everybody. So, growing together for that long and being without judgement, we just know that we’re safe together to do whatever we want, to say whatever we want.”

Crowe said the support she feels is incredibly helpful.  “The main thing that helps me when I have to perform is that I keep reminding myself that my castmates are here to support me while I do this, whether I have to do a solo or a monologue, or even doing a group number. I always remind myself that I’m surrounded by people that support me. And, in return, I support them back.”

Twins Corbin and Gideon Freeman thoroughly enjoy musical theatre.

“What draws me is the experience of everything being brought together – not necessarily the performance itself,” said Corbin.  “The performance itself is great, it’s fantastic. But it’s more the experience and the social climate around it. It’s so welcoming and it doesn’t feel as stifling as, literally, everywhere else in the school.”

Noqwisi Crowe and Corbin Freeman perform ‘Partner in Crime’ from “Tuck Everlasting”.

Gideon stated, “It’s the environment, honestly, that Val and everyone here has helped foster. People who don’t help us with that environment don’t stick around, usually. The people who are truly willing to stick with it and to help others are the ones who stay and the ones who help each other through the whole process.”

The process is one of everyone working together to make an outstanding show.

Tissue commented, “We make it a collaborative effort right from the beginning…but a lot of things like solos and monologues, they might go through three or four solos. They’ll maybe do snippets of them in class in front of other students and we’ll give feedback. We learn how to give feedback in a respectful way.”

Georjia Girty performs a dance from “Atlantis”.

Following is the full listing of performances for the 5th Annual Braves on Broadway show:

  • ‘Carrying the Banner’ from “Newsies”, full cast performance
  • ‘Waitress’, written by student Dayvian Pheasant, performed by Gabe Terrell
  • ‘Safety Patrol’, performed by Corbin Freeman
  • ‘Pet Leech’, written by student Tyruss Thompson, performed by Gideon Freeman
  • ‘I Can’t Drive’, written by student Ann Toineeta, performed by Ann Toineeta
  • ‘Partner in Crime’ from “Tuck Everlasting”, performed by Noqwisi Crowe and Corbin Freeman
  • ‘Ladies Choice’ from “Hairspray”, performed by 7th and 8th Grade Musical Theatre featuring DeMakus “DJ” Staton
  • ‘Nothing Like a Dame’ from “South Pacific”, performed by High School Musical Theatre
  • ‘If Ever I Would Leave You’ from “Camelot”, performed by Gideon Freeman
  • ‘Golden Hour’, performed by Brihana Delgado, Jimya Driver, Amiya Lequire, Aubree Rice, Elizabeth Myers, Dayvian Pheasant, Jocelyn Saunooke, and Ann Toineeta
  • ‘I Need to Know’ from “Jekyll & Hyde”, performed by Tyruss Thompson
  • ‘Freeze Your Brain’ from “Heathers”, performed by Gabe Terrell
  • ‘Atlantis’, performed by Georjia Girty
  • ‘Meet the Plastics’ from “Mean Girls, the Musical”, High School Dance featuring: Jade Squirrel as ‘Regina George’, Ann Toineeta as ‘Gretchen’, Elizabeth Myers as ‘Karen’, Amiya Lequire as ‘Cady’, Dayvian Pheasant as ‘Damian’, and Jocelyn Saunooke as ‘Janis’
  • ‘What’s the Point?’, written by student Noqwisi Crowe, performed by Noqwisi Crowe
  • ‘On My Own’ from “Les Miserables”, performed by Kyleigh Sherman
  • ‘Lifeboat’ from “Heathers”, performed by Ann Toineeta
  • ‘Burn’ from “Hamilton”, performed by Aubree Lossiah Rice
  • ‘When We Were Young’, performed by Jimya Driver, Dayvian Pheasant, and Kyleigh Sherman
  • ‘You Will Be Found’ from “Dear Evan Hanson”, full cast performance including: Noqwisi Crowe, Corbin Freeman, Gideon Freeman, Dayvian Pheasant, Kyleigh Sherman, Gabe Terrell, Tyruss Thompson, Ann Toineeta, Brihana Delgado, Jimya Driver, Destyni Johnson, Amiya Lequire, Aubree Rice, Elizabeth Myers, Jocelyn Saunooke, Jade Squirrel, Jaylee Arch, Khrystyna Armachain, Dylan Crisp, Georjia Girty, Savannah Hornbuckle, Ariel Hoyle, Olivia Huskey-Morales, Walela Ledford, Riley McCoy, Taleeah Murphy, Ava Murphy, Kylea Swayney, Marissa Wilson, Makai Hernandez, Piper Owen, Odie Owle, Aryahnie Pheasant, and Jaxon Wade