Aspen fourth-graders dance it up for class musical |

Aspen fourth-graders dance it up for class musical

Katie Redding
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Contributed photoMembers of the Dancing Junk Food troupe will perform in the Aspen Elementary School fourth-grade play "Walls" on Thursday. They are: (clockwise from top) Bryant Perez, Anthony Rios, Hugo Saucedo, Javier Coco, Liam Locke, Rem Lindenau and Conor O'Brien.

ASPEN ” An entire girls basketball team locked in a janitor’s closet, dancing junk food and 102 kids singing and cutting a rug?

It must be time again for the fourth-grade class musical. “Walls,” written by teacher Cathy Crum and featuring the entire Aspen Elementary fourth-grade class ” including the teachers ” shows Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at the Aspen District Theater.

Crum bills “Walls” as a “musical extravaganza” that includes plenty of solos and a singing, dancing and acting role for all of the students in the fourth grade at the elementary school ” and a can-can performed by the fourth-grade teachers.

Students and teachers have been practicing 30 minutes a day for a month to get ready for such numbers as “In Our Day,” starring conflicted parents; “I’ll Eat What I Want,” featuring leaping and pirouetting junk food; and “Noise,” as performed by “stomping and skating heavies.” The play is directed by Crum, along with Tammy Baar and Lysa Reed. Paul Dankers is the musical director.

“My biggest challenge is that with 103 kids, I can’t give them a very big part,” said Crum. “If I did, we’d be there until midnight.”

Crum, who writes and directs all-class plays for the elementary school’s second-, third- and fourth-grade students, said she organizes her shows around themes chosen by the teachers. Past themes have included Aspen history or science. The fourth-grade teachers requested a play about cliques, she explained.

“It’s kind of a common problem for kids of this age ” especially girls,” she said.

“Walls” tells the story of a girls basketball team that “have gotten pretty full of themselves,” according to Crum. When it becomes apparent that a girl named Ivena deserves a place on the team ” even though she’s not one of the cool girls ” the cool girls already on the team decide to lock her in the janitor’s closet. But in the process, they accidentally lock themselves in the closet with her.

Through the course of the play, the “low profiles” ” Crum’s name for kids who have yet to discover their potential ” learn to discard their own concerns about their self-worth. Meanwhile, the popular girls begin to understand they have a lot to learn.

In the course of the theater program, students not only learn about the play’s subject and gain acting skills, but also become more self-confident, Crum said. For example, last year a third-grader was so shy about performing in the class play that he didn’t show up for the evening performance.

One year and 32 play practices later, he has reportedly overcome his stage fright and earned himself a solid role in tonight’s play.

“This is the best age ever for theater,” said Crum. “They’re capable at age 10. They can read, they’re enthusiastic. They’ve had two years of this stuff.”

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