WILLSBORO — Just a hint of Pooh goes a long way to bring A.A. Milne’s classic tale alive by Willsboro Elementary School performers.
“It’s a good family-fun show that the kids would enjoy doing, and the audience should enjoy watching,” Drama Club advisor Derrick A. Hopkins said.
“Winnie the Pooh” stars Hayden Trow (Winnie the Pooh), Erinn Walker (Piglet), Jayde Trow (Tigger), Lydia Valachovic (Pooh’s Tummy), Sierra Bronson (Eeyore), Desiree Cassavaugh (Kanga), Everett Cassavaugh (Roo), Alexis Stoker (Rabbit) and Joelle Steeves (Owl). The play is directed by Hopkins. Jennifer Moore is music director.
Performances are 7 p.m. today and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Willsboro Central School Auditorium. Admission is $5.
FULL OF PERFORMERS
There’s intrigue afoot in the Hundred Acre Wood. Christopher Robin’s pals, Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, set out to find honey to appease Pooh’s rumbling tummy.
Christopher Robin, absent from home, has left a note for Winnie the Pooh. As translated by Owl, Christopher Robin is a captive of the Backson, a forest creature, and his friends attempt to rescue him.
“We started a theater program for elementary students, and the students loved performing and being on stage,” Hopkins said. “When I was researching shows, this has only been out a few years. It has great music. Everybody loves the story; the kids really responded. We only have 350 kids in the school; we have 43, 45 in this production. It’s such a huge number for such a small school. We have some high-school students as well helping.”
The set is minimal as the stage is full of performers.
“We ordered a backdrop to represent the forest that they have their adventure in,” Hopkins said.
“For costumes, the parents got together. They have Pooh costumes; pajama sets that look like the characters. For the pre-K through second-grade students, they’re the Bumblebee Chorus. The parents got together and found black T-shirts and found material to iron on. They’re just too cute.”
The Bumblebees’ attention spans were a challenge.
“With the Bumblebees, they only practice once or twice a week for an hour each time,” Hopkins said. “They need constant learning and relearning. They only had one song to learn. That one song gets repeated four times in the production, so it made it a little bit easier for them to learn.”
When the Bumblebees find their comfort zone, they rehearse with the older performers, who rehearse four times a week to learn their lines, songs and dances.
“For a lot of these kids, it’s their first time in a speaking role,” Hopkins said. “This show runs between 35 and 40 minutes. With first-time performers, they’re just learning about production.”
The youngest thespians are reminded by the more seasoned actors to look at the audience.
“I’m able to teach it at such a young age,” Hopkins said. “The older ones are helping them. They are being role models and leaders for the other students. I’m so fortunate the superintendent and the board of education value this. We are able to build on each of the productions. We do an elementary school musical, a high-school play and a high-school musical.
“The students really get that breadth of musical versus play starting at a young age.”
Email Robin Caudell:firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter: @RobinCaudell
IF YOU GO
WHAT: "Winnie the Pooh" presented by Willsboro Elementary School.
WHEN: 7 p.m. today and 2 p.m. Sunday.
WHERE: Willsboro Central School Auditorium.
ADMISSION: $5. Children under 5 are free.