Mary Beth Muncie was destined for music and theater education. She was born into it. Her father Phil was the band director at W.P. Daniel High Schooland later turned his talents toward being a minister of music in local churches. He has spent much time volunteering with community theater and Broadway shows at the Magnolia Civic Center. Her mother, the late Sylvia Nanney, was the music and fine arts teacher in the New Albany School District for many years.
A family tradition
Phil and Sylvia Nanney spent twenty years serving as directors of the New Albany High School Musical Production. It was very much a family affair as the two had the opportunity to direct the productions as their children experienced their high school years. They directed The Sound of Music with daughter Mary Beth in the lead role and The Music Man with son Philip taking the lead.
It continued to be a family affair as their children got older and even married, Mary Beth and Philip and their spouses began to take leadership roles in helping direct the musical. Mary Beth served as the choreography director for many years and Philip sang in the pit choir and helped in other various ways.
After Sylvia’s passing, Mary Beth took the role of Musical Director with support from her father, brother, and husband. Since that time Mary Beth has directed The Wiz and Seussical The Musical.
The 2019 musical season has been a sweet one for Mary Beth. Following the musical in February, it was announced that Mary Beth had been nominated for The Excellence in Theatre Education Award. The Excellence in Theatre Education Award recognizes a K-12 theatre educator in the United States who has demonstrated monumental impact on the lives of students and who embodies the highest standards of the profession. This award is sponsored by Carnegie Mellon University and is presented each year by the Tony Awards.
NAHS works to make musicals all-inclusive
LeeAnn Thompson, an art teacher at New Albany High School, has served as a mentor to Mary Beth for many years as she stepped into the role of being a fine arts educator. Thompson is always proud to tell others around the state that NAHS does a great job of including all students in the school musical process. She explains that the school musical at NAHS is an opportunity for all students to make new friends and be a part of an amazing process that is so well received by the community. “Rarely will you see a school that will work around sports schedules so that athletes can be a part of the school musical,” Thompson explained.
“Being of the dramatic personality group, it might seem normal for a teacher of drama to only pull in similar types. But, look around her chorus room and you will findstudents of all persuasions working together, finding similar likes, and building each other up,” Thompson said. “Mary Beth promotes, encourages, and demands that her space be one that includes all and is safe for everyone.”
High School Musical Theatre Awards nominations
To make this spring season even sweeter for Mary Beth, NAHS recently learned that they had received nine nominations in the Orpheum High School Musical Theatre Awards. The High School Musical Theatre Awards is modeled after the Tony Awards and supports, promotes, and enhances high school musical theatre.
NAHS received the following nominations:
• Outstanding Production Materials
• Outstanding Production Number – “Amayzing Mayzie”
• Outstanding Small Ensemble – Bird Girls
• Outstanding Hair and Makeup
• Outstanding Costumes
• Outstanding Lighting
• Outstanding Technical Achievement
• Outstanding Leading Actress – Laura Ruth Welborn as Gertrude
• Outstanding Direction by a Teacher – Mary Beth Muncie
The High School Musical Theatre Awards will be announced at the Orpheum on May 23 and the winner of the Excellence in Theatre Education Award will be announced in early June.
“We are so very excited about the nominations Mrs. Muncie and our high school have received this semester,” said Dr. Lance Evans, Superintendent. “As her principal and now superintendent, I have developed great respect for her dedication to promoting the arts outside of the traditional school day. She continues to work tirelessly to make sure that our school musical performance is one that the students, school, and community can take pride in.”
As Muncie is waiting to see which awards NAHS will receive at the Orpheum in May, she is preparing for summer theater camps for children and researching what musical will be the best fit for NAHS in February 2020.
Mary Beth is married to Jim Muncie who is a teacher at NAHS and serves as the Stage Manager and Flight Director during the musical. Muncie takes on the task of recruiting and training students to be on the stage crew each year. He does a lot of jobs, often unnoticed and without credit, making sure that everything is in place for the directors and performers.
The Muncies have two children: Maggie Grace who is in first grade at New Albany Elementary School and Mary Clayton who is three.High School Musical Theatre Awards, New Albany High School (NAHS), New Albany MS