St. Cecilia students perform West African musical

The 5th and 6th-grade class at St. Cecilia School performed a musical rendition June 4 of “Why the Mosquito Buzzes in People’s Ears,” a West African folktale cautioning against the dangers of gossip and jumping to conclusions.

20 students performed to an audience of relatives, teachers and younger peers. The set and costuming were handmade by director and teacher Sarah Taylor and her daughter Delaney, with some finishing touches by St Cecilia students.

The story describes a series of miscommunications between the animals of the savanna that leads to a tragic casualty in the owl family. To restore balance, the Lion King must untangle the thread of hearsay to reveal the source of all the trouble.

Avery Coffee, 6th grade, and Esther Lavendoski, 5th grade, played the Lion King and the king’s assistant, the Antelope, respectively. Avery loves to act; she’s been in several dramatic plays and a few of the St. Cecilia musicals in previous years, including last year’s performance on the American Revolution. The Lion is her first lead role.

As an actor, working with an adaptation of a myth is an interesting change of pace, Avery said. “This kind of storytelling goes into more detail, and it’s more relatable because we’re in middle school and rumors spread around,” she said.

Alexander St. Cyr, 5th grade, played a narrative role and tech support. He said that this was his first exposure to acting, and he was excited to try more roles in theater.

Teacher Taylor directs a musical every year for the 5th and 6th grades that corresponds to one of the class’s social studies units. She has three or so plays in rotation—“The Lorax,” including the aforementioned.

“It wraps into our whole curriculum,” Taylor said.

Students audition for parts and run lines, and school dance instructor Gina Stecher helps with choreography. Typically, preparation begins right after spring break and dress rehearsal takes place the week before the performance, but inclement weather put a damper on proceedings this spring. At one point in the evening, she added, the power went out at the school, and the only light came from an open door — but the actors persevered.

“We didn’t get into the auditorium until June 4, and we overcame all these technical challenges to put on this performance,” Taylor said.

Penelope Owen, the Iguana (left), and Avery Coffee, the Lion King summon the animals one by one during an investigation.

Penelope Owen, the Iguana (left), and Avery Coffee, the Lion King summon the animals one by one during an investigation.

Tags: ,