This spring two elementary schools, Brackett and Bishop, treated audiences to wonderful musical productions. On March 4, current Brackett third, fourth, and fifth grade students and alumni now in the sixth grade delivered two performances of Annie KIDS. Director Nicole Antonakas, a former Brackett parent and current Behavior Support Paraprofessional at the school, chose this production because of the wonderful songs and the wide variety of roles and flexible cast size. This made it possible to include as many children as possible.
Ms. Antonakas participated in musical theater from the time she was nine years old, and believes that it “...brings kids together through teamwork, while building their self-confidence through encouragement and acceptance in a non-judgemental, fun environment that reinforces positivity, kindness, and acceptance.” Her belief in the power of theater led her to create Positively Showtime as a vehicle to bring this experience to her school community as an afterschool program. Ms. Antonakas plans to follow the spring show with Disney’s 101 Dalmatians KIDS in the fall.
The spring play was publicized through flyers distributed to grades three through five. “Optional Casual Auditions'' were offered as an opportunity to understand what auditioning is like, but participation was not limited to those who choose this route. Ms. Antonakas administers an Audition Questionnaire in order to understand where each child sees themselves as most comfortable. Past productions have had between 30 and 70 young people taking part. Sixth grade students are not normally part of the Brackett productions, but an exception was made this year because the opportunity to perform was missed during the COVID years of 2020 and 2021.
Since Brackett does not really have a functioning stage, Annie KIDS was performed in the new Arlington High School auditorium, This offered plenty of seating, professional sound and lighting, and enough space for props and sets. This enhanced the experience and provided a level of confidence to the performers. It also offered a chance for the AHS students to continue to learn about their new space and practice using the equipment
Beauty and the Beast Jr. was the musical presented at Bishop on March 24-26. The Bishop Players, a parent-led, cooperative theater program that has been involving students in theater for many years, produced the show. Ninety students from grades three, four, and five participated as either cast or crew members. Two casts each delivered a matinee and an evening performance to sold-out audiences over the course of the three days. An additional abridged in-school performance was done for the entire school.
The Bishop Players productions are a beloved annual tradition. It is a tremendous community effort by over 100 parents who make costumes, design and build sets, and provide vocal coaching and support throughout the 14 weeks of rehearsals. Additional support comes from the school administration, faculty, and the Brightstart afterschool program.Sarah Zeitman provided the direction for Beauty and the Beast Jr. and Lucy Morrison served as Assistant Director and Choreographer.