Middle School musical flies high
After nearly four months of rehearsals, a Middle School cast and crew of more than 50 students staged an incredible performance of the Stiles and Drewe version of Peter Pan. "It has a slightly darker feel than the Disney/Mary Martin version," explained Director Marcia Franklin, "which I think better matches the original book by J.M. Barrie."
While every student who is interested can participate, Director Franklin and Assistant Director Chelsie Lloyd held auditions for casting, and asked interested students to dance, sing and act for each role. "These decisions are never easy because we have so many talented students," said Ms. Lloyd. "We even created additional Lost Boy and Pirate roles to cast as many of our students as possible."
Rehearsals were daily from November, and included weekends and evenings in the weeks leading up to the show. "I'm always amazed at how our students here at Bullis come to rehearsal every day with new and exciting ideas," said Ms. Franklin. "They are constantly thinking about what they can do to make the show and their performances better."
Ms. Lloyd agreed, noting that "I was impressed with the presence these kids brought to the stage for every performance."
"One of my favorite parts of the experience was seeing the whole show come together," recalled Meghan Simpson '21 (Peter Pan). "Before winter break, we rehearsed in small groups but when we all came together to start running the show it was amazing."
For any Peter Pan production, the flying scenes may be the most eagerly anticipated for the audience and most challenging technically for the crew. Director Franklin and Theater Tech Teacher Anthony Brooks created 'flying boxes' for this production, which were boxes on wheels with a pole for the actor to be attached to. Along with special lighting and dry ice, the effect of flying was achieved—and a lot of fun for the actors. "The flight to Neverland was my favorite scene, because that is when the audience really begins to see the magic of the show," said Meghan. "And flying on the boxes was just plain fun!"
8th grader Julia Evans was cast as Captain Hook, an "exciting yet intense experience" that she really enjoyed. "I was ecstatic to play Hook and worked hard to make this male role seem believable—I changed my voice range, worked on a slight accent and created a more proper walk."
For students and staff, the experience of working together as cast and crew to create the performance is the best memory of all. "The most memorable experience was bonding with the cast and making so many new friends," said Colleen Kazanjian '21 (Wendy). Julia (Hook) loved partnering with Elienne Grossman who played Smee, saying "we made an awesome team!"
The show would not be complete or as successful without the involvement of some faculty members who took on the adult roles in the show, and the many parents who helped behind the scenes—at home to help students learn their lines and in the theater helping with food and snacks for rehearsals and backstage during the performances.
For the directors, the production's completion is bittersweet. "After all the hard work, it's hard to see it end," said Ms. Franklin, "But it was exciting to see the hard work come to life and every aspect of the production turn out the way we planned."
"Soon we look ahead to next year," said Ms. Lloyd, "to see how we can raise the bar for ourselves as teaching artists and for the students to help them grow as performers."
For now, everyone agrees with Julia when she says, "the whole cast and crew created a performance we can remember for a lifetime."