Elementary Students Make Magic with Matilda

Elementary Students Make Magic with Matilda

For the past ten years, fourth and fifth grade students at each District elementary school have had the opportunity to participate in a musical. This year's elementary production was Matilda, a magical story about a girl and her classmates learning to stand up for themselves and love each other as they are.

For the past ten years, fourth and fifth grade students at each District elementary school have had the opportunity to participate in a musical. This year's elementary production was Matilda, a magical story about a girl and her classmates learning to stand up for themselves and love each other as they are.
 
Each school has its own directors and cast, and after weeks of rehearsals, the schools take turns performing on the Excelsior Elementary stage. Performances took place from late February to mid-March, giving each cast of students the chance to showcase their hard work.
 
“We created an unbelievable piece of magic together, as an ensemble,” said Kari Kohrs, one of the two directors of the Clear Springs production. Kohrs grew up as a student in the Minnetonka school district, participating in theater as a middle schooler (which is where she met her co-director for this year’s production, France Roberts!). This is the first year Kohrs and Roberts have directed a show together.
 
“We began each rehearsal by sharing something that brought us joy that day. Every day, one student would share that his joy for the day was ‘Seeing all of you.’ While we are proud of our students for their incredible production, we are even more proud of the way they came together with respect and kindness for each member of our new theater family,” said Kohrs. 

“It was very important to both of us that we create a space for our kids that was welcoming, inclusive, safe and joyful to explore music, dance, acting and performance,” she continued. “We saw so many kids who came into the process very shy and worried about performing in front of one another. In just about two months, we saw their confidence grow as they felt more comfortable and were cheered on by their cast mates. We worked hard to make sure Matilda was an ensemble piece – that every single actor was as important to the show as the next. We wanted our kids to experience the joy that comes from creating theater together, and the magic that can happen when we all play our part.”

This year, absences due to COVID underscored the importance of understudies in a theater production. Students took on the responsibility of learning many different parts, memorizing extra lines and studying the actor normally playing the role during rehearsals–and they were ready to jump in when needed.
 
Every year, the elementary production grows, and each school adapts the production to its students and directors’ ideas for the piece. The musicals provide unique opportunities for younger students to explore their interests in theater, find a community of other students who have similar interests, and get a taste of all that goes into a production. 

Watch a video highlighting a decade of elementary musicals here.
 

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