The emperor got new clothes last weekend at McAuliffe Elementary School, when 49 fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders performed in a musical as part of the nonprofit Studio East ArtReach Program. The play was sponsored by the McAuliffe PTA, and attended by nearly 800 people over two days.
Fifth-grader Lauren Jennerjohn, 10, played the part of Laslo, a trickster in this production, and has been acting since age 6.
She said she loves acting because “You get to be a different person each play, and you can get really involved with your character and really express a lot without showing too much personal stuff.”
Elise Jaffe, a 12-year-old sixth-grader, played the part of Bella, another trickster.
“It’s fun to do the actual show after so much hard work,” Elise said. “It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s worth it.”
Megan O’Brien, a 10-year-old fifth-grader, played the part of “Princess Dorothy,” and said she loved performing in the scene where all the princesses were on stage together.
“It’s just a lot of fun, but it’s also hard work learning all of your lines and dancing and choreography and knowing when your cues are,” Megan said. “It’s really exciting having the audience clap for you and knowing that you did a good job.”
The students started the six-week program in March, rehearsing after school Mondays through Thursdays., said Melissa O’Brien, Megan’s mother and the parent coordinator for the play.
Studio East provides the director, musical director, sets, costumes and more, and teams of parents worked on fitting the costumes, creating the program, selling tickets and other aspects of the production, O’Brien said.
“I think it’s such a great life lesson for all of the kids,” she said. “It’s unbridled enthusiasm for theatre.”
Marty Eagleson, director of ArtReach, said the program has been so successful that they have a waiting list of five schools that would like to participate.
“Drama really helps children become well-rounded people,” Eagleson said. “It’s not that we’re trying to make stars, it just adds to their self-confidence.”
Wendy Giroux can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 391-0363, ext. 5050.