Wheeler hosts latest of Aspen Country Day School tradition | AspenTimes.com

Wheeler hosts latest of Aspen Country Day School tradition

Aspen Country Day School will hold "CountryDay Night Live" at Wheeler on Friday and Saturday.
Courtesy photo

The Aspen Country Day School eighth graders have been prepping all year for their spring play, “CountryDay Night Live,” which premieres on Friday at the Wheeler Opera House.

The play — which was written and directed by students, as well as featuring songs chosen by them — is surprisingly witty, longtime drama teacher Marci Sketch said.

The eighth graders write the script, choose the music, and cast the parts for the play.
Aspen Country Day School/Courtesy photo

“The humor these students wrote is amazing. I think a lot of the audience will be surprised at how clever it is,” she said. “Little teasers that have been done in front of other teachers — they’ve come to me after the rehearsal and asked, ‘Did this class really write this?’ and I say, ‘Yes, they did.'”

This year’s play is a story about how everyone’s favorite late night comedy show in trouble. “Saturday Night Live” ratings have hit rock bottom, and NBC executives are anxious to make an episode go viral.

The students tackle the challenge of reviving the legendary program, and the play even features a cameo from a current “Saturday Night Live” cast member.

“It’s a very different show from past years. It has a lot of interesting new components to it, and I hope that it will be entertaining for parents, too, not just fun for us kids to perform,” said eighth grader Haven Freedman.

Eighth graders also help direct the younger classes throughout rehearsals.
Aspen Country Day School/Courtesy photo

The students take the lead in all aspects of the play, from writing the script to directing the younger students. While Freedman is a part of the writing group and has spent a lot of time working on the script, fellow eighth grader Jordan Morris is a part of the sixth-grade group and has been helping those students with their roles in the play.

“I’ve been at (Aspen Country Day School) since kindergarten, and some of (the students) are close friends and family,” said Morris. “Teaching them the dances and helping them through whatever it may be — stage fright, singing, or dancing — it’s been really fun.”

For many of the graduating eighth graders, producing the spring play is something they have been looking forward to since their first years at Aspen Country Day School.

“I’m very sad,” Freedman said. “I’ve been doing this since I was in pre-kindergarten, and it’s hard to grasp that I’m the eighth grader now.”

Arts plays a big role in education Aspen Country Day School, where the three pillars of the “ACDS journey” are academics, outdoor education, and the arts.

The arts program begins in kindergarten with Shakespeare plays and goes through eighth grade, with the spring play at the Wheeler Opera House.

“From the earliest grades, children learn to speak in front of an audience, to move around the stage with intention, to understand and recognize the structure of a play, and to be a respectful and appreciative audience member,” the school’s arts website states.

Sketch has been directing Aspen Country Day School’s plays since 2000, meaning she has taught many of these eighth graders since they were in pre-kindergarten.

“From watching them as little kids looking up to those eighth graders and to watching them become eighth graders with the greatest leadership skills, inspiring other kids by examples — it brings tears to my eyes watching them,” she said.

Aspen Country Day School/Courtesy photo

For her students, theater is providing them more than just a chance to be on stage. It helps them hone in their communication skills in a more laid-back environment.

“The one thing that students are going to need — no matter what the technology becomes — is the ability to communicate in different ways, either with peers, with bigger groups, in educational settings, professional settings, and even social settings. The art of communication is actually something important, and theater arts really help to foster those skills,” she said.

Freedman and Morris agreed their communication skills have improved because of their time in theater.

“(Theater’s) helped me with presenting in front of people and public speaking,” Jordan said.

“This is a very special theater program, especially because of the teachers and the overall environment,” said Freedman. “Marci, she’s the one teacher I know that can make any type of kid really excited for drama class …. That’s one of the things that makes it really fun and interesting.”

If you go…

What: CountryDay Night Live
When: Friday and Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
Where: Wheeler Opera House

Tickets can be purchased at aspenshowtix.com for $25