PRESTON – Tonight and tomorrow night, First East and Oneida will close down, and a crowd will gather in the street in front of the Oneida Stake Academy building to watch an original musical. The musical, titled “If These Walls Could Talk”, tells of the history of the building. When a grandfather trying to connect to his digitally-minded grandson, a father hoping to inspire his family and a young man in love unexpectedly meet in the Oneida Stake Academy, they discover that sometimes walls can talk. The musical starts both nights at 8:30pm.
The musical is written by Cecelie Costley and is directed by Dani Dunn. Music is written by Tyler Castleton and dancing choreographed by Paula Lemmon, Taessia King, and Autumn Coats. Local voices under the direction of chorister Karla Gundersen, costumes by Pat Moses and Glenda Swainston. Horses and antique cars will also be used thanks to Doug West and Joe Ward.
“We are humbled and amazed by the goodness of people who give of their time and effort to make something like this succeed,” said board member Necia Seamons.
Seamons said they’ve worked on this original musical for the past two and a half years. They are excited for the public to see it.
Bleachers will be set up in front of the Oneida Stake Academy building. People may also bring blankets to sit on. The musical is free, but it is encouraged to bring a donation. All donations will go to restoring the Oneida Stake Academy.
The 124-year-old building is one of 40 academies built by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There are just five that are still standing. The Oneida Stake Academy is the alma mater of Ezra Taft Benson and Harold B. Lee, both presidents of the LDS church. Samuel Cowley is another alum and was the first agent inducted into the FBI Hall of Fame. Utah State University President E.G. Petersen also went there.
“This is the history of the people in this area. The building was built by their ancestors,” Seamons added. “We hope they’ll see what the value of the Oneida Stake Academy building is.”