The Sun News

Student is writing the songs that Northside sings

Northside High School drama teacher Richard Frazier and junior Nick Oakley have created a musical based on the book “The Junkyard Wonders.”
Northside High School drama teacher Richard Frazier and junior Nick Oakley have created a musical based on the book “The Junkyard Wonders.”

The creativity and talent shown by the young people in our city is sometimes just astounding.

Members of the beginning theater class at Northside High School have written and staged a musical adaptation of “The Junkyard Wonders,” a book by Patricia Polacco.

Richard Frazier, drama co-director at Northside High who teaches drama and dance classes at the school, came up with the idea of the class selecting a children’s book and then writing its own musical. Retired Northside teacher Lynn Campbell heard about the project and suggested “The Junkyard Wonders” to Frazier.

The class — which is made up entirely of ninth-graders — started in August coming up with a plot structure and then went through the book scene by scene. By October, the script was finished and auditions were held for the play and rehearsals began.

According to Frazier, “The Junkyard Wonders” is a book that follows the life of Trish, a young girl who was diagnosed with dyslexia before the books starts. She wants to move to Michigan to live with her father to try to start over and no longer be in special education classes.

However, the new town and new school don’t change anything and Trish finds herself in special classes to cope with her disability.

“The story is about Trish, her friends and how they learn to cope, to find the strength within themselves instead of focusing on their weaknesses,” Frazier said.

Older students came in to assist the ninth-graders with the actual production. Holden Mathison, a junior, is serving as student director and Daniel Crouch, a senior is the technical director.

Nick Oakley composed all the music for the play and is serving as musical director — teaching the music to the students.

“We are doing what takes a professional drama production on Broadway two-three years — to write and then workshop a play. We did it in six months, with the majority of the work being done in class,” Frazier said.

Since the music has all been written by Nick, there is no recording of it, so students cannot take the music home and practice like with other productions.

“The great part is there are no rules but the difficult part is there is no guide either. This production is really about what we want,” said Frazier.

“The interesting thing about Nick is that he has the ability to write music on the spot. So I say to him that the scene needs this or I want it to sound like the color blue and in about ten minutes he comes back with a piece,” Frazier said.

“Nick is a musical genius,” Frazier said. “It is incredible for a junior in high school to be able to do this.”

Nick who would like to pursue writing music as a career, has written other pieces before — like the intermission piece for the Miss Northside pageant.

“It really started in band at Thomson. I learned the music quickly and then improvised little solos and pieces and that extended to the piano. So it has been a gradual thing,” Nick said.

Nick has written seven full-length songs for the show and also all the interlude and background music. Almost the entire show has music in it, according to Frazier.

”The Junkyard Wonders” will be presented 7 p.m. Jan. 26 atat the Ray Horne Theater at Northside high School. Tickets are $5 and will be available at the door.

Alline Kent can be contacted at or 396-2467.