North students tackle John-Rice ‘Aida’
Elizabeth James, Maggie Schieber and Galen Gossman, Bluejacket-Flint Elementary School fifth-graders, are so excited to be in a high school play that they can barely sit still through rehearsals.
"When I'm in high school, I want to be in a theater like this," Elizabeth said.
The elementary students are part of 31 from Shawnee Mission schools joining the cast of Shawnee Mission North's production of "AIDA," recently released for public performance by Disney. Because the play, which was written by Elton John and Tim Rice and based on African legend, is so new, Shawnee Mission North will be the first high school in the Kansas City area to perform "AIDA" at 7 p.m. on Oct. 26, 27 and 29.
The students from Bluejacket-Flint Elementary School will perform on Thursday and Saturday. The elementary students are performing in several group dancing scenes.
"It's kind of hard to memorize the steps at first," Maggie said. "Then you learn them and it gets easier."
Galen said the best part about the play is performing in front of other students from his school.
"You get all the glory from people from your school that come to watch," he said.
The elementary students were chosen by their school music teachers to audition. Then, they came to Shawnee Mission North and auditioned for theater instructors.
"Some of the kids were so nervous their voices were shaking," Galen said.
Elizabeth, Maggie and Galen said they can't wait until the day when they will be the stars onstage for their own high school play. Throughout the rehearsals, they've watched Shawnee Mission North cast members perform, and they have good things to say about Sarah Casey who plays Aida, John Diederich as Radames, Danielle Hohly as Amneris, Jake Humphrey as Zoser, Drew Bartlett as Mereb, Natalie Parish as Nebutka, Doug Chritton as the Pharaoh and Drew Johnson as Amonasro.
"I think the high school kids did a really good job," Elizabeth said. "They worked really hard, and it's a fun play. It's kind of interesting to see how things were back in Africa."
Aniseto Herrera, Shawnee Mission North junior from Shawnee, trained and taught the elementary students choreography for the play. He worked with several teams of students that will be performing on various nights.
"They're really rowdy, and they're really excited to be in the play," he said. "At first they mixed up parts several times, then when we got onstage some of them forgot and I had to teach it to them all over again."
Herrera said despite their rough start, he's proud of the students and how much they've learned.
Herrera is one of many actors in the male ensemble and will also play bit parts in the play.
Maureen Davis, Shawnee Mission North theater instructor, said the dedicated high school students have made the play successful as well.
"It's a challenge for everyone," she said. "High school kids don't have the experience, and musicals are always difficult. Kids are not trained actors or singers, so you're teaching everybody from scratch."
Davis said she enjoyed working with the young actors, performers and stage managers during pre-production.
"What I love about high school and why I've stayed is because most of these kids won't go on in theater, and it's fun to watch their talent come out here. In college, you don't get to work with a large spectrum of talent."
Ticket prices are $7. For reservations, mail a check, payable to SM North, to: Frank Robertson, SM North, 7401 Johnson Drive, OP, KS 66202. Be sure to designate how many tickets, which performance, and give a phone number.