Saturday, March 25, 2017

Second Star to the Right . . .

"Shadow, what's the matter with you?" Photo credit: Jason Lee
The week before spring break, my fifth and sixth graders perform in a musical production. Last year, it was Annie. The year before that, Oliver! Before that, The Wizard of Oz

This year, it was Peter Pan.

The spring musical has evolved into a school wide tradition. The parents and teachers costume the kids, design the sets, donate props, develop special effects, and help with make-up and hair. This year, one of our staff members, who has experience teaching Shakespeare to elementary school kids, even attended some of our rehearsals and worked with my cast.

I kind of turn the school into a theater for a few days, complete with make-up/hair and dressing rooms, not unlike the years I spent performing full musicals with my little brother in my family's rec room. I just have more kids to play with now.

Nothing caught on fire. No one broke a bone. It was a success.

Guys, I'm not being glib. This production was heavy on special effects for an elementary school. Dry ice, backlit muslin curtains, Christmas lights pushed through butcher paper and cardboard, kids on heelies and scooters. I repeat: Nothing caught on fire. No one broke a bone.

The day of the program, the kids and staff members proudly wore their green, Peter Pan production shirts. Even my stage managers, who were supposed to wear all black, staged a coup and begged to wear the show shirts instead.

By the end, my stage managers ran the show anyway. For example, I was chasing after our crocodile with the safety pins that had, once again, popped off his tail, and the stage managers decided to hit the lights and start the scene without me.

I could feel the kids feeding off the energy of the audience and responding to the laughter and applause, just like real actors.

This year, several of my former students left their junior high classes early ("We're only missing our last two periods!") to watch Peter Pan, and relive memories of their elementary school play from the previous year.

At the track meet after school, I heard several reports of parents and kids still talking about the production. Apparently, some of the fifth and sixth graders were even singing and performing choreography between events.

I didn't sleep well the night after the show. My brain refused to turn off. I'm probably worse than the kids as far as the whole adrenaline rush thing goes.

The next morning, one of the second grade classes had colored Peter Pan sheets and had written little notes about the performance.

The kindergartners showed up at my door and immediately started chattering about Peter Pan.

One of the girls exclaimed, "That was the best play I’ve ever seen!"

I agree with the five-year-old. This year will be hard to beat.

"But Peter threw me hand to a crocodile . . . " Photo credit: Jeannie Rydalch

The face says it all. Photo credit: Jeannie Rydalch

For the latest blog updates, visit and "like" Rebecca Turner-Duggan.