BROWNSVILLE — The title the fourth- and fifth-graders chose for their March 22 musical performance at Brownsville Elementary School was “Finding Our Voices.”
And did they.
For 40 minutes, the 138 young people sang and danced to a full house in a multimedia performance that could put some high school productions to shame.
Best of all, it was their production from front to finish.
“The production began with asking the students to ask themselves who they wanted to be in the world,” director Rick Vanderhole explained.
Based on the students’ answers, the students came up with a list of songs that reflected those concepts.
“Lost Boy” featured fourth-grade dancers with a dance solo by Lakota Carlile and musical soloists Chloe Hood, Isabella Hall, Kayla Childs and Robin Gitch.
“Count on Me” was performed by Roxann Stewart’s class.
Dave Pittman’s class performed “One Call Away” with solos by Cannon Volitis, Maleri Patnode, Max Foster and Hunter Hansen.
“Try Everything” was a combination effort of Marty Krafcik’s and Heidi Erickson’s classes.
“Titanium” featured Philip Wetherby’s and Erickson’s classes with soloists Greyson Payfer, Ella Scott, Elysia Gabryshak and Isabella Bergquist-Hurst.
The fifth-grade dancers rocked “Roar,” while the Brownsville Choir sang “What a Wonderful World.”
Soloist Cole Mathews led the full cast through “Seize the Day” to bring the program to a stilt-walking, cart-wheeling finale.
The students decided which songs should have solos and dances, provided input on the auditions for solos, as well as input on color schemes and lighting, according to the program.
All of this was even more impressive when you realize students had only gotten to work with Vanderhole on the show for a half-hour two to three times a week since the beginning of the year.
Nothing onstage detracted from the performance. Props and microphones appeared and disappeared smoothly, thanks to the five-person stage crew: Austin Allgood, Aryella Eagan, Dakota Lavery, Gunnar Orr and Stuart Tebo.
This marks Vanderhole’s third year as musical director at Brownsville Elementary, and each year the program has improved, not only performance-wise, but technically as well.
His first year, he inspired volunteers to donate the materials, design and labor needed to create a portable system of curtains that convert the class room by day into a real theatrical stage by night.
The second year, it was a professional sound system. Now every child’s voice comes through loud and clear.
This year, it was new risers. Next year, Vanderhole plans to raise money for a real lighting system and dimmers.
But the real growth is in the children themselves.
So what’s next for Brownsville Elementary?
“I hear there’s a ‘Lion King Lite’ version of the musical,” Vanderhole said.