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Harrison Students to Debut Original Musical at Lakeland Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting

Harrison Students to Debut Original Musical About Publix Founder George Jenkins at Lakeland Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting

January 18, 2018

Harrison School for the Arts students will debut an original musical, “When You Dream,” about the philanthropy of Publix founder George Jenkins, at the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting on Jan. 25 at the RP Funding Center.

Harrison Principal Daryl Ward wrote the musical after being approached by Janice Tedder Jones, immediate past chairwoman of the Chamber. 

“I knew from the beginning that I wanted an annual meeting that was not only inspiring but also entertaining,” said Jones. “How better to accomplish that than to be inspired and entertained by the students at Harrison, a local gem that many people are not aware of. I’ve long been a fan of the Harrison productions, and this seemed like a wonderful opportunity to showcase their many talents.”

“When You Dream” begins with Jenkins being turned away by the new owners of the grocery store chain he worked for before going into business for himself.

“He had some ideas for the store he managed in Winter Haven, and he traveled to Atlanta to visit with the new owners,” Ward said. “As the story goes, the new owner wouldn’t even see him and could be heard talking about golf behind his closed office door.”

In the musical, just as in real life, that moment of rejection becomes Jenkins’ inspiration. He returns home, goes into business for himself, becomes hugely successful, and is able to give back to his community in innumerable ways — all of which “When You Dream” captures in original songs including “Be There,” “No One Unseen,” “Good People,” and “It’s Worth More Than That.”

“The biggest takeaway for audiences is that the spirit of giving that ‘Mr. George’ embodied continues to reverberate throughout our community to this day, and Polk County students are blessed to be able to have an arts education that gives them opportunities to connect with their community’s history in such a meaningful way,” Ward said.

After penning the script and lyrics, Ward handed “When You Dream” over to Lakeland High School teacher Tyler Campbell, who wrote the original score, and Harrison teachers Suzi Lambert and Laurel Renfroe, who are co-directing the production.

“This is entirely original content. The students don’t have anything to reference or model. That presents many unique learning opportunities for the students,” said Lambert.

“We’ve also brought in students from many different areas, including chorus, drama, musical theater, orchestra and the jazz department, to collaborate on this production. Doing so exposes the students to the way their peers approach their art, and it gives them all a more comprehensive picture of what the arts can do for the individual.”

Publix has also been involved in “When You Dream,” providing items, including milk crates and shopping carts and baskets, that will be used in the production. The grocer also plans to make recordings of the performance available to its employees at a future date.

Tickets to see “When You Dream” during the Lakeland Chamber’s annual meeting may be purchased at Lakelandchamber.com.