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First Porter Ridge Elementary musical rousing success

Caleb Chipman, 10, a fifth grader, and Aniyah Moore, 9, a fourth grader, perform in Porter Ridge Elementary’s first musical, Disney’s “The Jungle Book Kids.”

After 55 hours of rehearsals spread out over a span of several months, about 50 fourth- and fifth-grade Porter Ridge Elementary students wowed a packed house during the dress rehearsal of their first ever-musical production.

Wednesday’s performance of Disney’s “The Jungle Book Kids” was held in the Porter Ridge High School auditorium in front of the entire student body of Porter Ridge Elementary School. The cheers and thunderous applause made it clear that all their hard work paid off.

“They have worked their little hearts out,” said the show’s director, Porter Ridge music teacher Bridget Burrows. “I thought the dress rehearsal went really well. These students are awesome. They’re the most well behaved kids. They listen, they take instruction and they really fell into their characters. I couldn’t be more proud of these kids and all of their hard work. I’m like a proud mama.”

Caleb Chipman, 10, a fifth grader who portrayed Baloo the bear, said it was a new and exciting experience. “Having such a big part put a lot of responsibility on me,” he said. “After we got done with the first song, though the nervousness was gone. But I don’t get terribly nervous anyway. I love music. It’s one of my favorite subjects in school. The biggest challenge was getting used to being where I needed to be on stage at the right time and doing what I needed to do.”

The production’s “fierce” tiger, Shere Khan, was played by EJ Collins, 11, a fifth grader who said he felt everything went very well. He said he loved being in the musical, but playing the “villain” presented its own set of challenges.

“It was kind of hard because you’ve got to have that deep voice to do it,” EJ said. “And you have to memorize all your lines so you won’t mess up on stage. But if you do mess up, you can just keep on going because the audience won’t know you messed up if you don’t make a huge big deal about it.”

Burrows, and fellow teachers Angela Gaio and Katie Riedinger, worked countless hours to prepare students, who have been meeting after school twice a week since last October.

Students, teachers and a parent volunteer made all costumes in the production. “It was hard,” Burrows said. “We had the kids bring in sweat pants and sweat shirts and we had parents bring in felt, fabric and material. Ms. Riedinger, the art teacher, and one of the moms helped put the costumes together. It was just too expensive and hard to find costumes that would fit the budget.”

This is the largest production the school has ever endeavored to offer. “There’s never been anything of this magnitude, where the students are actually acting,” Burrows said. “They learned about stage direction and projecting their voice. I feel like there is so much Language Arts incorporated into a production like this. They’re not only having to read the play, but they have to interpret it and learn how they’re supposed to act and behave.”

A $500 grant from the Blumenthal Performing Arts paid for the director’s guide, the students’ books, a performance DVD and the rights to perform the musical.

Disney’s “The Jungle Book Kids” will be held Thursday, March 22, 2012, and Friday March 23, 2012, both at 7 p.m. in the Porter Ridge High School auditorium. There is a $3 admission for adults. Kids are free. (The proceeds will be used for next year’s production.)

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Mar 21, 2012 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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