Opera Outreach Brings “Jack and the Beanstalk” to Area Schools

UM-Flint Music students perform their newest outreach opera: Jack and the Beanstalk

UM-Flint Music students perform their newest outreach opera: Jack and the Beanstalk

The UM-Flint Department of Music is continuing its traveling opera outreach this spring. After the successful productions of The Three Little Pigs and Hansel and Gretel, the department has moved on to John Davies’ Jack and the Beanstalk. The 40-minute opera, set to the music of Gilbert and Sullivan, is fully staged and costumed. Both student performers and teaching artists are involved in bringing the production and music education to area schoolchildren and the community. The leading force of this project is Dr. Joshua May of the music department.


  • Jack: Marada Dahl (Voice Performance, Music Major Sophomore)
  • Giant/Trouble Man: Kevin Starnes (Alumni, Current Grad Student M.A. in Arts Administration)
  • Giant’s Wife: Jhane Perdue (Music Major, Voice Performance Major Freshman)
  • Giant’s Wife: Amanda Rodman (Music Education & Voice Performance Junior)
  • Narrator: Erica Kennedy (Theater & Voice Performance Music Major, Voice, Freshman)
  • Mother: Hannah Wikaryasz (Voice Performance, Music Major Senior)
  • Mother: Vanessa Salisbury (Voice Performance Music Major & Theater Major Freshman)

Teaching Artists:

  • Zachary Smith (Music Education Major, French Horn in Orchestra, Senior)
  • Alesha Akins (Music Education Major, Flute in Orchestra, Senior)
  • Heather Smith (Music Education Major, Voice)
  • Amanda Rodman (Music Education/Voice Performance, Junior)

Jack and the Community

The premiere of Jack and the Beanstalk was held at the Flint Farmers’ Market in fall 2015. Now the students are heading to area schools and community spaces to give free performances and supplemental instruction. Throughout the spring they will visit the Swartz Creek Performing Arts Center, Cook Elementary School, Mason Elementary School, the Flint Public Library, and, in a first time collaboration, the Whiting Auditorium. The May 6th performance at the Flint Public Library is free and open to the public. The school performances will be limited to internal audiences.

Classroom Learning

One of the aims of the opera outreach mission is to connect music to multiple core curriculum disciplines. UM-Flint Music Education students will visit the schools’ classrooms prior to the actual performance to develop lesson plans that teach math, science, reading, theater arts, foreign languages, geography, and storytelling through the elements of music. They will also guide students through a variety of learning activities that engage them with innovative lessons to help prepare them for the opera performance.

Says Karen Salvador, Assistant Professor of Music Education, “This opera outreach provides amazing opportunities for UM-Flint students and children all over Flint. Music education students are gaining real-world teaching experience in Flint classrooms, Flint children are interacting with college students, seeing live opera performed right in their school, and learning more about music in a hands-on, immersive way. Josh’s vision for this outreach is exactly in line with our university’s mission to partner with communities in ways that are meaningful to all parties. I know that this is an experience that will help shape our Collegiate-NAfME students as teachers, and it could also be an inspiration for a child who loves music.”

Supporting Outreach

Opera Outreach is made possible by the James A. Welch Foundation, the Nartel Family Foundation, University Outreach, and the Department of Music. Grants and funding have covered transportation for students, set pieces, costumes, and more.

For information, call 810.762.3377 or visit umlint.edu/music.