Thursday, March 5, 2009

An evening of "theater" - Grade School style

Tonight I was invited to see my niece in a school play. It was a Grade School Production of the "Three Little Pigs" and "The Wizard of Oz" stories. In one hour. My niece informed me her role was that of the "Hip Hop" Munchkin. Interesting, I don't recall that role in the Judy Garland version. I went anyway.

An audience made up of assorted relatives and friends all settled in their seats (in the cafeteria) and the curtain opened:
Ok, so I realize that the arts budgets for schools is non existent, so I kinda expected the paper trees and backdrop. Then some kids in black file out onstage, and they are to represent houses and walls...I think:
Ok, I am open to new interpretations of old stories. Then things get all weird. Mama Bear from "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" shows up, and interrupts the story:
I can barely hear the kids from my seat, but I get the gist that all these characters from different stories are going to be showing up, but then the actors in black come back and sit on the stage silently.
Finally, the wolf from the Three Little Pigs story shows up, but then so does the Troll from the Three Billie Goats Gruff story, followed shortly thereafter by the three billy goats themselves.
The niece and nephews around me started looking at me for explanations, of which I had none. I leaned over to my mother and said I was going to fake some kind of attack to get out of here. She wanted in on the ruse. Then I remembered, my niece had yet to appear in her part.
Ahhh, the first act ends, and there are sighs of relief (and some anxious laughter of what is to come) all around. Children are getting restless, and lets just not say what the adults were thinking at this point. A short five minute break and the curtain opens again (dear god)...

Well, this second act is at least following only one story, and they are using the soundtrack to the film for all the musical interludes. MUCH easier to follow this way. My niece the "Hip Hop" Munchkin does a stunning job, delivering all her lines on cue and dancing very well with the two other "Hip Hop" munchkins:
Then the Cousin in Law shows up as the Scarecrow. Excellent work as the Scarecrow, I must say:
Then the story gets all weird, with a Tinwoman l(instead of the TinMan) looking like she is about to bust out with "I will Survive" in full voice:
And then the highlight of the evening appears. This 4th grade master actor doesn't simply come out in a lion costume and say his lines. NO. This kid IS a lion, and he stomps around the stage, growling and acting like a Barrymore:
So they are off to see the wizard, and of course the Wicked Witch shows up with her flying monkeys. I am not sure, but I am pretty sure the Monkey's "wings" were plastic tikki masks:
I suppose I should be relieved that none of the monkeys were actually on wires and pulleys, but honestly, I was kinda hoping to see some tragic Monkey, Toto, tree, Mama Bear and Pig crash drama at this point.
So I continue to photograph the action, and here comes the Wicked Witch's big death scene. No water, no fire, no castle, instead the 4th grade witch does some kind of death dance and sinks to the ground. What? No "What a world, what a world...who would of thought that a good little girl like you would be the end of all my beautiful wickedness"??? That's a great line, and it should not have been edited out!!So they meet the Wizard of Oz, who happens to be this tiny blond fourth grader with a green vest on. Suddenly this show takes a big leap and changes the ending a bit (the nerve!) and has Toto the dog suddenly stand up, yell at everyone that she is sick of this crap and she (Toto) knew all along that all the dumb Dorothy had to do was click her damn heels and end all of this.
Hmmm...I wish I had known that.
Anyway, the evening ends with tremendous applause for the kids efforts:
My niece taking her well earned bow:
The critic's reactions are already in...the Preschool set:

The kindergarten set:
The infantile critic seemed to like it:
Tough Crowd:
Some Cast Photos:

I handed my niece her "after show" flower and headed out the door:
I swear to god the parking lot had emptied in less than 5 minutes!

No comments: