Maiya Blaney Earns Senior Spotlight

Senior Maiya Blaney directs her own show, putting together a concert version of Spring Awakening. 


Montclair High School Senior Maiya Blaney has taken the reigns on her own production. Having been in a number of productions with the School of Visual and Performing Arts (SVPA) at Montclair High School, she has taken the opportunity through the Career Internship Program to put together a show of her own. Blaney will be spending the four weeks going through the rehearsal process at her house with a cast of her fellow peers, directing, teaching, and guiding the other students to create her vision for the show.

Maiya Blaney with her script. Photo courtesy of Blaney.
Maiya Blaney with her script. Photo courtesy of Blaney.

The process began in January when Blaney had to start getting the rights to the show and getting the school’s approval to put on the production. She held auditions on May 16th at Montclair High School and recalled the eerie feeling of being in the director’s seat for the first time. She has been on the other side of the audition process several times at the high school, beginning with audition for the Rockin Out show in 2013.

“Spring Awakening takes place in the 1800’s in Germany. It’s about this group of kids that are around the age of high schoolers and their bodies are changing and their thoughts are changing because they’re going through puberty, but all the adults refuse to tell them what’s going on.” says Blaney, “ For example they don’t tell them about how babies are made, or anything about mental health, or how to deal with anxiety. The show really talks about the consequences of not communicating with your children as they’re growing up.”

As director, Maiya was in charge of the whole production including acquiring the rights, casting the show, and getting all of the logistics sorted before the Career Internship Program even began. It became clear to her very quickly how much is done pre-production, something she was aware of in the past but found a deeper understanding and appreciation for through her internship. “The easiest process was actually starting rehearsals,” noted Blaney. Getting the rights to the production was difficult due to the significant financial cost. Scheduling rehearsals, and organizing the dates that work for everyone also proved to be difficult and was definitely a challenge for Blaney in the beginning.

Blaney was able to partner with Serendipity Cafe to help put on the show and her mentor, Ed Carine, backed the project with the expectation of being paid back after the show opens. He has given Blaney, as well as the other students involved, the opportunity to put on a completely student run production, letting them really take control of this project over the next few weeks. Serendipity is mainly a student run organization and since “the show is going to have kids in the pit, and kids in the cast,” along with a student director,  it made sense to reach out to Serendipity to sponsor the student production. Spring Awakening was performed at the First Lutheran Church on Park Street just down the street from the High School. Blaney would like to thank Mary Oswald for her assistant at the church. Of special note for this first time Director/Producer, Blaney’s debut production turned a modest profit. A net profit the first time out is a very rare occurrence even for more experienced Directors/Producers and is a good sign for Blaney’s future.

“What’s so awesome about this show in general is it’s about how we as young people aren’t given enough of a voice and aren’t heard enough so the fact that the entire show is done by young people is perfect.” said Blaney.

Blaney plans on attending Pace University in the fall where she will studying to get her BFA in Musical Theater. She will further her knowledge of theater and gain training and experience through the program. This internship has prepared her with a greater understanding of how the entire production system operates, expanding her knowledge from only an actor’s point of view, and allowing her to try her hand at directing; something she might pursue further in college.

Studio042, Montclair’s local printer, donated the printing of the program and show posters. “We re proud to have been giving the opportunity to support Maiya on her senior project in our little way.  Delivering a successful production from concept to closing curtain is no small feat. This production was hit with more than its fair share of obstacles, denials, challenges and unkept promises yet Maiya persevered. Maiya Blaney has a bright future ahead of her” Said Scott Kennedy, CEo of Studio042.

The Montclair Dispatch is proud to have supported the Montclair High School Senior Option Program (Career Internship Program) for the past 3 years. You can learn more about the four 2017 Senior Option students by reading their article here.


Maiya would like to thank some special people,

“Special thanks to MTI, Brenda Pepper, Ed Carine, the Serendipity staff, Betsy Harris, Erin Mieth, Lily Feinberg, Charley Polaner, Connie Graham, Chris Joyce, Oliver Miede, Mary Oswald, and the First Lutheran Church for their generosity, support, and invaluable time. You helped without the intention of receiving anything in return and for that I am incredibly grateful.

I would also like to thank my mom, Mona Gerdes, for her tireless effort at helping me print copies, trekking me places, and really just being an utterly decent human being. I’d also like to thank my sister Madelyn for giving up the living room and the basement from 3 to 6 everyday for a month. I know it wasn’t always easy having rock blasting.”


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