Kids’ play out of this world
“Space is an awesome place!” a chorus of more than a hundred Aspen Elementary School students and guest stars harmonized at the close of their musical, “A Snake in Space,” yesterday morning.
The first- and second-grade stars of the play – dressed as comets, stars, black holes, the nine planets of the solar system, and in other out-of-this-world attire – all appeared on stage for the finale and were greeted by hearty rounds of applause from the crowd, comprised almost entirely of fellow students.
The exuberant finale – preceded by the exciting launch of the “AES The Rainbow” space shuttle – concluded a well-rounded drama which exacted screams of fright, roars of laughter and the tapping of little feet from the young audience throughout its nine scenes.
The musical, which featured nine different singing and dancing numbers, follows the plight of several youngsters who learn that NASA is selecting seven astronauts of all colors and creeds at random for a space journey. So the kids, led by a spirited group known as the “Amazing Kids Club,” launch a crusade to get one of their own aboard the space-bound craft.
“It’s about the power of kids, and different kinds of intelligence – using your creativity and not giving up,” said Cathy Crum, director, producer and writer of the original musical. “It’s about a talented group of kids who want to be one of seven lucky winners to go up in a space shuttle into space.”
In the end, Sam, played by second-grader Tara Seyffert, is selected as the seventh and final astronaut, demonstrating that any goal is within reach if it’s pursued with vigor and enthusiasm. Her pet snake Sidney will accompany her on the mission, hence the play’s name.
The student stars of the performance, all of whom had speaking, singing and dancing parts, belong to the school’s “Spruce Core” – a group of five classes taught by Betsy-Ann Anastas, Jan Cochran, Margaret Romero, Julie Zats and Mimi Hauenstein. The five teachers also played supporting roles in the musical.
Bolstered by the volunteer performances of local artists, such as trapeze and aerial artist Kimothy Cross, pianist and accompanist Bob Yang and singer/actor/assistant director Tammy Baar, as well as several high-tech special effects, the musical took on a very professional quality.
“It’s a huge production,” Crum said. “There are some real technical effects that most teachers couldn’t do with their other responsibilities.”
Crum writes, produces and directs three shows a year for the elementary school on a contract basis, and has done so for years now, she said. Her next production will come out in January, followed by a fourth-grade show in May.
“There’s so much talent in the community and so many of them are willing to put their time into children’s theater, which is just great,” Crum said. “It’s also neat that the teachers and administrators at the school really believe in creative drama, given the standards-based nature of public education these days. Our school has a nice balance.”
Aside from an exercise in acting, the performance was full of educational references – the big bang theory, gravity and relativity, stars, supernovas, black holes and comets, the solar system and the uniqueness of each of its nine planets, and Neil Armstrong and his “one small step for man, one giant step for mankind.”
Students worked on the performance for about 30 minutes a day for three and a half weeks.
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