Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Swim for Your Life, O Human Child!

ursula's lair
Ursula's Lair
Our thoughts and takeaways from watching multiple, multiple middle school performances of Little Mermaid:

Laura is one of the black-clad Poor Unfortunate Souls up there, but it was basically impossible to photograph her because dang Ariel was always standing in the way. And Laura was in the back because she's tall, the light was greenish and dim, and the souls were constantly, like, writhing. After a couple of shows, I was like, "Laura, scoot up front! Elbow some of the other souls out of the way, but subtly!" But she didn't.

laura soul
There she is, the one who's almost in focus.
laura chef 2
Her other incarnation.
There were two casts of lead actors, but Laura and the other members of the corps were in every show. And there was a lot of girl talent in this group! Both Ariels were truly great singers, I couldn't believe they were twelve and thirteen years old.

two ariels

flounder 2
This little girl who played Flounder just totally killed it.
Pretty costumes.
So the girls were awesome, but you know who was not awesome? The boys. All of the boys seemed like maybe they were bribed to be on stage, and maybe they had been. It was hilarious. It was like probably they'd never spoken English sentences before. Or worn clothing, or talked and moved at the same time. Discussing it later, Matt said, "You know, science has yet to devise a use for the middle school boy." And I had to agree. Bless their hearts!


The shining exception was both little boys who played the crab, especially this kid here. He had it together and he even did the Jamaican accent. But observing the general dearth of boy talent, I understood why the high school's production this fall was Little Women.

During the show week, a rumor was circulating that next year's play would be Aladdin. We thought, hmm, that would be fun, but it needs too many strong male leads. Matt was like, they should just do it with all girls, and I was all, is there something that has even more girls than Little Women? Laura mentioned Annie. That might do the trick.

The other thing that cracked me up was the tizzy the entire cast was in because Ariel and Prince Eric actually kiss on stage. Look at this picture and look at the kids in the background. (There's Laura in the back right.) Not a single one of them is in character at this point, they are all reacting to their classmates kissing for real on stage. Six shows, they were like this. And when Laura talked about it, she was like, "OHMIGOD!" Oh man, so funny and kind of sweet.

It was a fun week. Having a teeninsy role to play was just about perfect for Laura. She loved being part of something bigger, but with no actual pressure. She also loved being fussed over and getting into her costumes.

laura big hair
We liked the big Poor Unfortunate Soul hair.
Our final takeaway--Matt's and mine--was that we do not think we are raising an actress. Laura, we feel, only wants to play the role of Laura. Which can be very appealing, and I can imagine other parts in this show she could have done well in. She is not afraid to stand up in front of people and do things. But actually acting like someone else? I can't see it. I suspect that she will find, though, that in many life situations, acting like yourself is enough. Also showing up, being cheerful, and working the hair.

I hope that you have enjoyed this journey under the sea. If for some reason you do not yet feel like YOU sat through five shows of this pageantry, the set of flickr pics is here.


Amy said...

That kissing picture is hilarious! You're right, the faces in the background. Ariel and Eric sittin' in a tree, INDEED.

Looks like so much fun! I miss my theatre days. As you know, I am not afraid to work it.

Becky said...

Amy, that's it, she's just like you! I mean you work it like a pro, but nobody is gonna forget they're watching you and not, like, Helen Keller or whoever.

Elizabeth said...

That comment about middle school boys is so perfect. Now I know (I have two). Boys are blessedly simple, though.

Marsha said...

I am living with a middle-school aged boy and, yes, I agree with Matt.

As for the play: lovely! A great looking production that shows every bit of loving attention put into it (by kids and adults).

Jamieson Ridenhour said...

Boys in plays. We can't get them at the college level either, Becky. I wrote my own play this year, and purposefully only had two male roles, one of them small. I still had to ask an alumnus to come back and play one of them. A lot of these guys stay in middle school forever.

delaine said...

What a great write-up of a fun,entertaining evening! The colors were dazzling and the whole shebang was super smooth and organized. I agree totally with your assessment of the boys. However, Laura may surprise you one day when she has a leading part. The inner thespian may emerge yet. I love the picture of Big Hair Laura. It reminds me of some early Julia Roberts movie. Pretty Woman? Steel Magnolias? Dunno. Also I love your prescription for life. Great stuff !

Jane said...

I think this gender thing is supposed to be a real problem in theatre departments, because a lot of your big, well-known plays slant towards the male, while most of your theatre students are female.

Love the kissing pics! So adorable.

Nina said...

Does seasonal pantomime exist in the US or was its rejection one of the successes of 1776? In every provincial theatre in Britain next month the roles of Aladdin, Peter Pan, Jack (of the Beanstalk), Dick Whittington, Puss (in Boots), and various Princes Charming will all be played by young women. (Admittedly the Dame must be played by a man, but a teacher would be just right.) Pantomime is probably the most unbearable theatrical form in the universe, though, so it might be best to do what my (girls-only) school did and just stage whatever play you like regardless of the shortage of male lead actors.

Aimee said...

Science and the middle school boy - OMG, so awesome. Although, science should work on that...especially the remembering to print out and turn in assignments bit. (Oh, band! Band is a good use for some of them.) Norcross High had a fair number of boys in drama back in the day...I married one of them and socialized with the rest for years...

**Good for Laura!** I'm with her - be in the background, but part of the fun. It's the most awesome experience.

Cassi Renee said...

The plays Emma has been in have been produced by a community group, rather than the schools. This means that every member of the cast is there because they really want to be, and although the number of boys is fewer, those boys are really into it. Many times male characters are played by girls --in fact one of Emma's good friends just played the lead in Flat Stanley.

Beth said...

We have the same problem at the elementary school level. The solution there is that girls pretty much always play the important boy roles. Quinn was in a production of the Aristocats, and both the butler and Thomas O'Malley were played by girls. Quinn got to be one of the dogs, go figure.

Oh lordy, I'm afraid to have two middle school boys in my house in the not-so-distant future.

Star said...

Lovely post. Cosmos bless her. You & Matt have done such a great job with your kids: they know who they are, they have self-confidence, they are compassionate and thoughtful. Wonderful wishes for a wonderful future.