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Delano Middle School students take the stage

September 15, 2008

by Jen Bakken

During the last week of July, Delano Middle School students began rehearsing for their fall play. Throughout the month of August they rehearsed three to four times each week.

With a cast of 65 fifth through eighth grade students, one must assume this was no easy task for Director Barb Roy and her high school student directors.

The play, “Mulan Jr.,” is based on the 1998 Disney movie and the story Fa Mulan by Robert D. San Souci.The story is about a young Chinese girl who disguises herself as a boy in order to fight in the army so that her father doesn’t have to.

There were complex musical arrangements and many beautiful costume changes within the play. The wigs were fun and, with their size, one had to wonder how they stayed on the little actors as they moved about the stage.

With multiple showings, it gave students a chance to perform for a packed theater three days in a row.

One thing that stood out to me was the amount of comedy and one-liners throughout the play. It was a very funny play, and kept your attention until the curtain closed.

Every actor had their particular character, and each were equally important to the play. From the ancestors to the ensemble and sound effects, these youngsters made this show something to talk about.

Hannah Peters was a convincing Mulan, even with her blonde hair, and I’m sure she made her family very proud.

The ancestors – Claire Miller, Rialee Todd, Amy Max, Emma Kopp and Gabrielle Arthur – played their parts with attitude.

Mushu, the dragon, was played by Kassidy Knaus, and she was the most adorable fire-breathing creature.

The Huns were loud, wore scary masks, and really got into their characters while running about the theater.

The boys in the Chinese Army were absolutely hilarious when they had to put on wigs, dresses and act like girls.

It’s impossible to mention the full cast of 65 students, but every single one of them did an amazing job and should be very proud of themselves.

None of this would be possible if it were not for the hard work of Barb Roy and her team of high school students: Ben Nolan, Jarrett Hart, Nick Meyerson, Tyler Kyrola, Mckay Elwood, Kaeli Todd, Abby Bohler, Liz Roering, Autumn Ike, Lee Peterson, Jennifer Current, Adrienne Hood, Rachel Braden, Josh Lawman, and the technical direction by Ric Roy.

After the last show on Saturday afternoon, the entire cast enjoyed a pot luck and swimming party. You could almost see the disappointment on some of their faces.

For more than a month, these children had bonded through drama and had become a theater family. These are the experiences where memories are made. This is something these young actors will remember for the rest of their lives.

It’s uncertain what these middle schoolers will become as adults but one thing is for sure, what they learned while taking the stage, at Delano Public Schools, will be brought with them wherever they may go.

Auditions for the seventh through twelve grade play, “Nothing But the Truth,” will be Monday, Sept. 15 at 3 p.m.

The junior one act auditions are in early November, and are open to students in grades seven through nine.

In January, students in grades three through six can audition for “A Year with Frog and Toad.”

Even if you do not have a student in these plays, I encourage you to attend. As a community, we should rally around our little actors, applaud them, and help to foster their love of theater.

Congratulations to you all, directors, actors, and everyone involved – Mulan Jr. was the best school play I have seen thus far, and I can’t wait for all of you to take the stage again.