Nicholson’s Annie Kids: Nicholson Elementary students make their musical debut

Published 7:00 am Saturday, April 8, 2017

The sun came out for Annie on stage at the Picayune Auditorium Thursday and Friday night as the students of Nicholson Elementary performed their first musical.

Since January, the students have been diligently rehearsing four days a week to prepare for the show, Director and Nicholson Music Teacher Sara Caplan said.

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“I’ve been wanting to do a musical for years,” she said. “This was something that we could include everyone in and be fair about it.”

With each performance the cast rotated so everyone had an opportunity to be in the spotlight, Caplan said.

Guided by choreographer E.Jae James and set designer Judith Shallbetter, the characters came to life during the first performance of the play Thursday night.

“It’s important they are introduced to how the arts can take what they learn in school and put it on stage,” James said about the students.

All 33 students seemed perfectly calm before the show began, eagerly waiving at their friends and family as they trickled in for the show.

“It’s exciting and very rewarding,” Caplan said, who’s been working with the school to get the program started all year.

As soon as the curtains were drawn, the students on stage lit up with excitement, trying to hide their smiles as they each played their part.

Whether it was Miss Hannigan scolding Annie for trying to run away or Sandy singing the tune of Tomorrow, the crowd laughed along with them.

The best part of the play is that the audience can see each student’s personality, James said.

Too often in the classroom they feel restricted, but on stage, students can express themselves in a new way, he said.

“It has been a blessing seeing them grow,” James said.

The students had a lot to learn in a short amount of time, he said.

Some of the students started participating in the school’s Christmas program in third or fourth grade, so now as sixth graders, they’ve matured and can perform a junior high level play, James said.

But what made the event extra special was the 40th anniversary of Annie on Broadway, Caplan said.

“It’s a familiar story, but something we’ve made our own,” she said.

The musical was free to attend, but the students and staff asked for donations to continue funding productions in the years to come.

About Julia Arenstam

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