Pioneer on CBS News: High school production targets bullying in schools

This is a production that has been in the works for a few years and is finally making its debut. Here is a news story that CBS affiliate – KUTV news aired featuring the production and the impact PHS hopes to make in the community through the performing arts.

(KUTV) He danced his way to some of the top musicals across the country and directed sold-out shows here in Utah.

Now Derryl Yeager is behind a new production that targets school bullying, called “Wide Awake.”

The show was put on by students at Pioneer High School for the Performing Arts in American Fork.

“It’s powerful. It’s really powerful,” said Yeager.

Yeager spent 25 years in the professional dance and Broadway show arena before he started the Odyssey Dance Theater in 1994.

It has produced hit shows like “Thriller,” “Redux Nutcracker,” and “Shut Up and Dance.”

Four years ago, Yeager helped open up a performing arts high school and has wanted to do a show about bullying.

“I titled the show ‘Wide Awake’ because that was my intent — was just, open your eyes. Open your eyes to what’s around you,” said Yeager.

But the word bully is never mentioned once during the 40-minute musical production.

“As soon as you say the word ‘bully,’ they are going to tune out,” said Yeager.

“I think it makes it more personal instead of just, bullying is bad,” said Jessie Martindale, one of the student actors in the show.

The stories told in “Wide Awake” are real, many of them coming from the actors’ own experiences.

“We’ve written our own monologues. We’ve given a lot of input on how we want to portray this — how we want to stage it,” Martindale said.

“Going about it this way is, in my opinion, more impactful,” said student actor Tal Stengel.

But the show isn’t all doom and gloom. Its final message is about believing in yourself.

“In a very imperfect world, whoever you are is perfect,” said Stengel.

“I think that is the overall message of the entire piece is, it’s survivable. And you shouldn’t even consider suicide or any of those things,” Yeager said.

Yeager is now in the process of working with schools and districts, hoping to take this production across the state.

For more about Derryl Yeager and Odyssey Dance Theater, visit itsĀ website.