MILWAUKEE - Skylight Music Theatre holds a Kids Writes program every year, inspiring kids to write lyrics and dialogue based on a theme. Selected pieces of writing are then turned into music theatre songs by professional composers and performed by professional artists in a touring show.
This year's Kids Writes program show is about remembering the pandemic – some performances featuring the lighter moments of the year.
"It’s a very different song. It’s kind of not what you would imagine for a kid my age to write," said Dahlia Santiago.
Santiago's original song is called "Broken Record."
"It sounds kind of sad, it wasn’t written to be a sad song but it’s coming from a sad point," said Santiago.
The Golda Mier School fifth-grader's lyrics compare the quarantine experience to a "broken record."
"I was really shocked first of all that it got in, and then the fact that it sounded so good, I was like ‘hold up, somebody should pinch me right now.’ It was a really surprising moment, I was just shocked," said Santiago.
Fellow classmate Josiah is pinching himself when he saw not one but two of his pieces were chosen.
"I thought maybe I have a chance and seeing that both pieces got in was a big accomplishment for me," said Josiah, a student who wrote a poem.
Josiah and Dahlia Santiago
Josiah's song "To all Essential Workers" focuses on the everyday heroes of the pandemic.
"While I was writing this I realized there are so many essential workers it’s not just a couple jobs, it’s like millions and millions of people right now," said Josiah.
He also wrote a letter to President Joe Biden. That became a monologue performance in the show.
"It makes me feel good about myself. Knowing that people again feel inspired and they enjoy hearing my writing, I think that’s cool," said Josiah.
Josiah's letter to President Joe Biden
The Skylight Theatre Kids Writes program is in its 21st year, bringing tremendous joy and entertainment to the kids but also to the adults who help put it all together.
"Taking the writing of children and putting it on screen validates the work and shows how much value there is in their words," said Amanda Marquardt, Skylight Music Theatre education manager.
"There was pressure, too. The kids put so much into this and making sure that we're telling the story the way they intended it to be done and all of their hard work we're doing that justice too," said Ryan Rossmann, who recorded and mixed everything for the show.
This year the show is virtual. If you're interested in watching the show in its entirety it is streaming the Skylight Music Theatre's website until June 13.