By Lynda Shadbolt
I take my seat in the Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion and I start to look at the program for the play that we are attending, Honk Jr. The cover art is just so creative and playful. I look at the credits and see that it was done by a student at JDH Elementary School, Izzy Hill, who is also performing in the show. I read through the program and realize that more than 40 kids are in the musical that I am about to watch.
There are 13 main characters in the story, and then there are groups of ducklings, frogs, geese and swans. I read that many people have worked together to make this musical happen. Of course teachers from JDHES head up the musical – directing, making costumes, doing the publicity, problem solving, selling tickets, painting sets, etc.
I read that the technology class from the high school made the sets. I read further to see that my good friend Amy Brohm helped out with support, ideas and costumes.
I am so impressed even before the show begins. And the show begins. And from the strong beginning to strong ending it is delightful and sweet in every sense of the word. The kids are outstanding. It is clearly evident that they spent five months rehearsing, four nights a week after school. They also rehearsed in their two nutrition breaks every day. They are confident and animated and they know their parts well. They are so happy to share what they have created with us, the audience. The audience can feel how much they are truly enjoying themselves on the stage.
There are numerous solos and group numbers and the kids just work so well together. It is clear that they are connected and that they have committed to each other to make it a good play. The script is funny and the audience howls with laughter. The kids are wearing handmade costumes, which I read were made by teachers, with a special shoutout to Shannon McCracken who headed up the team.
Every person on the stage had a great costume and as a performer that just feels great. If you see pictures of the play you will likely see that the frogs were wearing green crocheted hats with big eyeballs, made by the principal of JDHES, Andrea Borysiuk. I am sure she spent many hours by her fire working on them over the winter. As I watched the play I realized that the behind-the-scenes stage crew are all students from JDHES as well. I love how the teachers, students from all grades, community members and parents all pulled together to make this happen.
The people involved in this musical will remember it for a long, long time. And I can only imagine that the whole school gets a “pick me up” when something like this happens. The good vibes spread. The students received a well-deserved standing ovation and their appreciation of the audience was evident. Thanks to everyone who made it happen – off and on the stage. I left feeling like I had been a part of something really special.