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Sandy Journal

Local elementary students take the stage in spring musicals

Mar 03, 2020 01:09PM ● By Julie Slama

Third graders rehearse songs for “School House Rock, Jr.” at Granite Elementary, which is one of four Sandy elementaries putting on musicals this spring. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Granite third grader Bodie Johnson will be pumped when he reaches his dream of playing in the NFL — for his favorite team, the San Francisco 49ers. 

But right now, he’s keyed up to perform in “School House Rock, Jr.”

“I’m very excited to be in the biggest play in the school,” Bodie said. “I memorized my lines the first day. I wish we had more performances.”

Bodie, who plays Tom in the “Interplanet Janet” scene, and the rest of the third-grade class will take the stage for “School House Rock, Jr.” at 2:30 p.m., March 26 and at 9:30 a.m., March 27.

Granite isn’t the only local elementary school performing a musical this spring. Park Lane and Edgemont both will perform “Frozen, Kids.” Park Lane’s performance will be at 6 p.m., March 31 and Edgemont’s is scheduled for 6 p.m., April 28. Silver Mesa students will take the stage in its first musical at 7 p.m., April 20–21 with “Annie, Kids.”

Bodie’s classmate Jane Powley also is thrilled to be in the Granite play, with parts in “The Preamble” and “A Noun Is a Person, Place or Thing.”

“I listen to the disc and sing along with it all the time,” she said. “It’s going to be exciting performing for the rest of the school. It’s something I’ve looked forward to.”

That’s because it’s an eight-year tradition for third graders to perform that show, which stems from the Emmy Award–winning 1970s Saturday cartoon series that taught history, grammar, math, science, social studies and more through clever catchy tunes.

“The kids love it, they expect it every year and they’re very excited,” said third-grade teacher Lisa Hekking, who team-directs the show with other third-grade teachers. “They’re learning about history, science, English and social studies at the same time as presentation, public speaking and teamwork skills.”

That includes their classmates with disabilities as “everyone is in the show,” Hekking said.

To ensure everyone gets a role or line, the six main characters were divided by scenes. For example, instead of just one main character, Tom, there are 10.

“The group is great. We have singers, actors, characters with a lot of spunk. Our students come together to create something bigger, something they’ll always remember,” Hekking said.

With “Frozen, Kids,” both Park Lane and Edgemont students are eager to create shows they will remember.

“It was just released in the fall and the kids are so excited to do it,” said director Camilla Duncan, who is the schools’ Beverley Taylor Sorensen drama specialist. “‘Frozen’ has been a phenomenon. They’ve grown up singing the songs and watching the movie. It’s about sisterhood and friendship and being strong to yourself.”

At Park Lane, 21 fifth graders have been practicing after school since before winter break, with 10 of their classmates helping with sound, lights and sets.

At Edgemont, 38 students started rehearsals before school in January. Ten classmates make up their stage crew.

“It’s been fun to see them want to be involved, develop their skills, grow confidence, learn to project in front of an audience, become coordinated in their dance, and develop a work ethic because it is a lot of hard work,” she said.

Assisting Duncan in choreography is Kelby McIntyre-Martinez, who is the assistant dean for arts education at the University of Utah and director of the Beverley Taylor Sorensen Arts Learning Program.

“The parents are great to help,” Duncan said. “At showtime, when the line forms, as we usually pack the house — it’s a huge thing for these kids. I’m just so pleased to see how far they come and how proud they are of their accomplishments.”

Every parent of the 80 third- through fifth-grade students in “Annie, Kids” is helping at least an hour with costumes, props, set, concessions or in other ways at Silver Mesa. 

“It’s become a community builder,” Silver Mesa parent director Lori Belliston said, who is joined by music director Renee Beus, choreographer Liesel Gonzalez and technical director Joe Belliston in the school’s 40-minute, double-casted show.

At the 7 a.m. rehearsals, the student-actors learn to understand their characters — empathy with the orphans and confidence as Daddy Warbucks; fitness through running and singing at the same time; stage presence through their posture and expression — so their hard work will pay off at show times, Lori Belliston said.

“It’s a lot of fun as the kids may already dance or sing or have acting experience, but now they’re trying areas they haven’t experienced and they’re learning other skills at the same time,” Duncan said. “My favorite thing is seeing the process from start to finish. They go from they don’t know if they can do it at the audition to growing confidence and knowing, ‘I can do this’ as they perform in front of the audience.”