Uplands Elementary School puts more than 150 students on stage for two performances of the Emperor’s New Clothes set in Persia.
The story is the well-known one with a few twists added for fun, said director and choreographer Robin Hollett, adding it appealed to her for all the choices and opportunities for costumes and set.
“The kids are excited,” said Hollett, adding it’s entertainment for the entire family.
Several students auditioned for speaking roles and the chorus is 70 students – the cast is all of the Grade 4 and 5 students and a large group of Grade 6 students. They’ve been rehearsing before school and at lunchtime every day since October. For their 100th rehearsal, the students enjoyed a pizza party with 100 pieces of pizza, said Hollett.
With such a large cast, the two performances will feature the same actors as the king and queen but the others will be different students each night.
A highlight for Hollett is seeing progress over the three months with students who didn’t believe they could sing a solo or didn’t believe they could take on a character but found the courage to do it and surprised themselves, she said. The main characters are Jake Kluss as the king, Ella Almgren as the queen, and playing princesses are Kaitlyn Freeman, Madeline Hesse, Reese Nester. The court herald is Keaton Wulff.
The costumes and props have been made tirelessly by Lisa Strydom and Marilyn Earl starting late last year, said Hollett. The pit band will not be in the theatre pit but will take up the first seven rows at the REM Lee Theatre and will be musicians James Powell, Darryl McDicken, Beth Sheppard, Emily Barron and Hollett. A 36×16 size backdrop was painted by Amy Warner of Painted Squirrel and Geoff Parr has been helpful to let the background be painted in his music room, which has the space, said Hollett.
Uplands put on similar performances of Tom Sawyer in 2007, Treasure Island in 2008 and Oliver in 2015. The Emperor’s New Clothes plays Feb. 17-18 at the REM Lee Theatre. Tickets on sale at Misty River Books and at the school.