Yadkin County residents can transport themselves under the sea this weekend with the Boonville Elementary School drama group as they perform “The Little Mermaid” for their annual musical.
“This is the sixth year that we’ve had a musical,” said Miranda Lowder, director for the performance. “I started the program my first year of teaching here. This is the only elementary school in the county that offers drama for the students.”
There will be performances March 22, 23 at 7 p.m. and March 24 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $6 apiece and can be purchased in advance at the main office or at the door when doors open 30 minutes prior to the show.
This year the program will present a beloved Disney classic featuring the mermaid, Ariel and her prince, Eric. The program has a history of performing fairy tale classics. Last year’s performance was “Beauty and the Beast.”
“The rights to ‘The Little Mermaid’ were just released this year, so that’s why we chose it,” Lowder said. “We have a lot of good sixth graders this year, and this show allows us to showcase a lot of people. So I try to choose the shows based on the talent that we have.”
Lowder said this play and the others she’s used before were Broadway Junior shows. They come as a kit complete with age appropriate scripts and a CD with all the music needed for the performance, eliminating the need for an orchestra.
The drama program at Boonville Elementary is an after-school program that requires an audition by students. Lowder said each year the program grows in popularity, and due to space constraints she is forced to turn some students away.
“There are 38 kids in the show this year, and a little over 50 kids auditioned,” Lowder said. “I’d love to be able to keep everyone, but our space is tiny. We have relatively no backstage space, so it’s hard to keep them all confined backstage during the show.”
Lowder said that the performance is a labor of love for several staff members. Newell Hauser, a 3-6 teacher at Boonville, is acting as stage manager for the performance. Ginger Holt, the school’s music teacher, is acting as the musical director.
“If we didn’t have Newell or Ginger then the program wouldn’t be what it is,” Lowder said.
Marissa Brooks, the art teacher at Boonville, painted the set pieces.
Lowder fills in the remaining roles as director, choreographer, producer and costumer.
“I have spent every waking moment since January on this,” Lowder said. “I started preparing for it this summer, looking for costumes and things like that.”
The drama program is a self-maintaining program at the school, functioning off the profits from the year before. Lowder said that each show costs approximately $3,000 to put on. These costs are broken down into rights to the show, rights to video the performance, lights and sound.
To add to the overall cost the group decided to add a performance to this year’s schedule due to the overwhelming response they received from last year’s performance.
“Last year we had 500 people here in two nights, and it’s a really small space. So we decided to add an extra show this year,” Lowder said.
In order to help offset those extra costs the cast hosted a fundraising event on March 16. They called it “Under the Sea with Ariel” and invited residents to come out to the school’s multi-purpose room and see the cast perform three numbers from their show, have a sea themed snack, have a meet and greet with the characters, do a craft and take pictures on the set.
“It was really good for the actors because they are not here for themselves,” Lowder said. “They are here so that the kids attending have a good experience. It was a different concept for them. They did a really good job.”
The cast was able to raise over $300 through the fundraiser. These monies will go towards paying off any remaining costs from this year’s performance and the rest will go into the drama fund for next year.
Lowder said that she believes the program makes a difference for the students who participate and offers them a unique outlet to express themselves.
“I really believe in this program,” Lowder said. “We have children that have learning disabilities, we have children who are academically gifted and we have a really broad group of kids. It’s not about them as individuals; it’s about them as a group.
“I feel like it’s such a great program for their self-esteem,” Lowder continued. “They get to see something from the very beginning all the way to the end and that’s pretty rare that kids are involved through the whole process.”
Lowder said that if anyone is interested in making a donation to the school’s drama fund they may do so by writing a check to Boonville Elementary School with a note to deposit it to the drama fund. Donations are tax deductible.
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.