MARYSVILLE — Shoultes Elementary’s program of school plays marked its fifth year with support from parents and community members on March 21-22, as Kathryn Schultz Miller’s adaptation for elementary school children of “Peter Pan” returned to the Shoultes stage under the direction of school librarian Nancy Hammer, who started the play program.
“These productions do not happen by themselves,” said Hammer, who expressed her appreciation to the Shoultes School Choir, as directed by Barb Thornlund, as well as the Shoultes PTSA for funding not only the royalty payments to perform the play, but also the purchases of additional and replacement costumes this year. “In the back corner, there’s a young man by the name of Adam Butler who deserves a hand for our sound system, since in the past, audience members have barely been able to hear some of the lines.”
Shoultes fifth-grader Billy Roscoe, one of the four actors who played Peter Pan, not only worked as a backup sound technician, but also served as an understudy this year, after Hammer had been trying to get him onstage since the third grade. He and fellow fifth-grader Mario Ebied, who played Captain Hook, made their debut on the Shoultes stage this year, but won’t be able to return next year, since they’ll have graduated into middle school.
“I’ve been in the choir before, but not the plays,” Roscoe said. “They were cool when I watched them, so I decided I wanted to be in one, even though I was scared that I would go up there and forget a bunch of lines.”
Neither Roscoe nor Ebied drew blanks onstage, even though Ebied deemed the memorization of the script to be one of his most challenging tasks.
“It was also really hot, because I was wearing a thick costume and standing in back with lots of people,” said Ebied, who opted to try out for the role of Captain Hook because of how well he could do the voice. “It was nice to be introduced and recognized, though.”
“I was happy to show what we’d done to the kindergarteners and first-graders,” Roscoe said. “They were probably pretty entertained.”
Hammer lauded her young cast for developing by leaps and bounds since they began rehearsals in January.
“The team spirit they built was amazing,” Hammer said. “Some of them might have known each other from the playgrounds at recess when they started, but they worked out such a camaraderie and took such good care of each other. By the time of our dress rehearsals, I was getting emotional because they were so perfect. They knew exactly what to do.”
Next year will see “The Wizard of Oz” return to the Shoultes stage, and both Roscoe and Ebied offered some advice for the young actors who will step up next year.
“Don’t stress out over it,” Roscoe said. “Just practice and do your best.”
“If you get nervous, just think of it like nobody’s there,” Ebied said. “Try it before you judge yourself unable to do it.”