Marysville Shoultes Elementary students present ‘Peter Pan’

MARYSVILLE — Shoultes Elementary’s second annual play kicked off March 18-19, as 35 actors and 45 choir members from the school’s student body came together to stage an epic production of “Peter Pan.”

Nancy Hammer, a 14-year teacher at Shoultes Elementary who’s also served as a school librarian for the past few years, directed a version of “Beauty and the Beast” last year that had been specifically adapted for a large cast of young performers. This year’s version of “Peter Pan” was similarly tailored to provide onstage parts to as many aspiring young actors as possible, but with 80 kids turning out for try-outs, even this play’s expanded cast couldn’t accommodate them all.

As it turned out, the two showings of the play still wound up one actor short, due to an illness in the cast, so Styles Brooks, a fifth-grader who was one of the actors to play “the Beast” last year, stepped in to play two separate parts this year.

“I felt a lot more confident about what we were doing this year,” said Hammer, who once again hand-painted the backdrop for the play, this time on the other side of the backdrop that she’d painted for “Beauty and the Beast.” “I love the process of putting on plays, from the written words being spoken and acted out. It gives me such a high to see it all come together on stage.”

Many costumes were personally tailored by several students’ parents, while the Shoultes Elementary PTSA pitched in with funds for the $100 script rights and the approximately $400 in remaining costume costs.

Fourth-graders Trevor Conrady, who played Captain Hook, and Michelle Boespflug, one of the actors who played Peter Pan, had been rehearsing with the rest of the cast since January.

“I liked making kids laugh in last year’s play, so I thought, why not do it again this year?” Conrady said. “As Hook, you have to yell at Smee, but you’re not really mad at him. You’re mad at Peter Pan, and you’re just taking it out on Smee.”

“I knew it would be serious work, with no messing around,” Boespflug said. “Peter Pan has attitude, so you have to have that to play him. Shoultes plays are really fun.”

Prior to last year’s play, Shoultes Elementary hadn’t put on a play in as long as many school staff members could remember. Now, Hammer is already weighing her options for next year’s play, which she hopes will help her leave a lasting legacy for the school.

“We’ve already got the costumes and backdrops for two plays, so once we get them for a third play, we can rotate between them every three years,” Hammer said. “After I retire, someone else can just step in and take over that cycle. Once we have those props and supplies, they can last for years.”

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