John Bapst students to present original musical about teen mental health

Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 5:15 PM EST
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - It’s no secret that schools across the country are overwhelmed with students who are struggling with mental health problems.

A group of John Bapst students are making sure middle schoolers know they’re not alone in their struggles.

“It’s a musical about mental illnesses and you don’t see that very often,” said John Bapst senior, Teeonna Ryder.

“They sing and speak from the heart. As a writer, that’s what you ask for,” said musical director, Joyce Mallery.

This Saturday, they’ll premiere “The Brain Game,” an original production written by Joyce Mallery and John Haskell.

The musical, which will be performed here at Penobscot Theatre Company’s studio space on Main Street in Bangor, will explain why the teenage years can be so difficult - the brain is still in development.

“It really become apparent to me that just a little understanding about the development of the prefrontal cortex and we wanted to present it in a way that would be fun and engaging,” Mallery said.

John and Joyce wrote the musical during the pandemic.

Now, the students are bringing it to life as part of their Senior Project.

They’re putting their own flair on a musical that focuses on what happens when emotions run high.

“It’s really made a big difference. They really dug into this and have had fun with it, and we’ve had fun with it,” said Haskell.

The musical also shows students and adults what they can do to help themselves feel better.

“You’re not always going to have this intensity and you’re really going to find some coping mechanisms the older you get that are just going to feel very different. So, I believe that will come through,” said Mallery.

“I hope they take away that mental illness is not as scary as they think it is and it’s okay to feel those feelings,” Ryder added.

“Everyone has been in a place where they’re just tired. They don’t feel good and they’re upset all the time. It’s just going to be good to know that these kids know they’re not the only ones,” said senior, Jacqui Parker.

After months of rehearsing, they’re ready to display it to the world, especially the last number.

“I just like the last one the most because it’s fun. It’s informative and it has all of us in it, and we do a kick like so that’s always fun,” said senior, Elijah McKnight.

“There’s just fun little moments and it’s fun to watch four friends have a good time up on a stage,” said Parker.

Penobscot Theatre is sponsoring the show for two performances Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at their studio space on Main Street in Bangor.

The first show is sold out, but there are still tickets available for the second.

You can reserve tickets by calling the theatre at 942-3333.

If you miss the performance, the show will be hitting the road to some middle schools in the coming weeks.