Nicholson Elementary’s production of Cinderella

Published 7:00 am Saturday, March 17, 2018

On Thursday and Friday afternoon, Nicholson Elementary held its second annual musical event – Cinderella. Students of Nicholson Elementary excitedly filled the stage with singing and dancing in their rendition of the Disney classic.

Music Teacher and Director Sara Caplan, said that after years of wanting to put on a musical for the school, she finally got permission to move forward with a production of Annie in 2017. With the help of set designer Judith Shallbetter and choreographer E. Jae James, Annie was a hit. Because of their success, Caplan decided to make the musical a yearly event.

Caplan said for 2018, she wanted to do a musical that was both fun, and well known. After deciding on Cinderella, Caplan and James worked together to prepare the students for a short preview of two of the musical’s songs for Nicholson’s 2017 Christmas event.

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Official auditions were held for the musical at the beginning of 2018. Any interested 4th, 5th or 6th grade student was invited to audition. Caplan gave the girls a copy of one of Cinderella’s songs and the boys a copy of one of the mice’s work songs to memorize. Caplan said she used this to determine which students were really passionate about the production and which would be best for the more intensive roles.

James said Cinderella has been a much harder production to pull off compared to Annie. The music, choreography and lines are all much harder, James said. In addition to this, the group has been given two less weeks to complete the production compared to the previous year. However, James said this is a positive thing, as being pushed harder will help prepare students for high school, college and beyond.

The production itself was split into two groups – one for Thursday’s show and one for Friday’s show. This split gave each student the opportunity to learn two sets of lines so they could have the chance to play both a big and small role, while also having a “backup” understudy system.

While Shallbetter designed the sets, Caplan said she let the students find their own costumes, as it would give them more freedom and creativity.

During their last after-school rehearsal on Tuesday, students threw themselves into their roles for the final stretch. Cinderella had grace, the evil stepsisters had flair, and the mice had charm as they danced, sang and passionately quoted their lines.

By the time Thursday and Friday nights’ productions opened their doors the students were ready. Friends, parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents all filled the rows of the Picayune School District Auditorium to watch the performances.

The first act opened with a brightly dressed ensemble singing the story of Cinderella to familiar Disney music. Cinderella danced onto the stage along with her evil stepmother and stepsisters Anastasia and Drizella. The ensemble finished their song and the story commenced.

After months of practice, the students of Nicholson Elementary ended their night to a round of applause.