- Princeton ISD
Children's show caters to PISD 2nd-graders
The Princeton High School journalism program wants to feature the talents of the student writers, as well as highlight activities and programs at PHS. This week’s feature about the annual theater children’s show was written by student journalist Kate Read.
The high school’s theater program likes to shake things up after the one-act play season ends. Rather than a traditional spring production, April and May are marked with rehearsals full of laughter and excitement for what is known as “children’s show.”
PHS theater students performed “Charlotte’s Web” for all the district’s 2nd-graders Monday during two different shows in the PHS auditorium.
“I’m just excited that we got to have two shows this year,” junior Jhett Henager said. “I'm excited that more kids got to see it and that everyone got an opportunity to be a part of it.”
For the past three years, one day at the end of the school year, all of the district’s 2nd-graders crowd into the high school auditorium to watch a show put on by the high schoolers that is geared toward the younger audience, which has now become a tradition PHS theater students hope the younger crowd anticipates.
“I [thought] it would be really fun for the 2nd-graders to talk about when they go up in grades, to tell their younger siblings,” director Alexa Buck said. “Just like science camp in middle school, something every kid gets to look forward to.”
Throughout the show, the cast interacted with the younger students, and after the performance, all of the crew still in full character, waited in the lobby to take pictures and give high-fives.
“I quite enjoy it because they’re always an interactive audience,” sophomore Maggie Ackerman said. “It makes it feel worth it in the end when they’re super happy and excited about it.”
Children’s show isn’t just designed to appeal to the younger ages. It was created as a way to give theater students higher roles in a production and inspire newcomers to join the program, including students like Jhett, the junior who played Wilbur in the show as his first lead role in a high school production.
“It’s fun but also definitely hard because you have more lines than anyone else, so you have to be willing to do stuff by yourself outside of school and rehearsals,” Jhett said. “It’s fun and hard, but it ends up being rewarding. I’m just try to do my best.”
His co-lead, Kiri Bunch, played Charlotte for her first lead role, as well.
“My favorite part of rehearsal was messing up because it's so funny,” Kiri said. “Especially when it was me and Jhett, who plays Wilbur, because when we don’t remember our lines, we just look at each other with our mouths open.”
Ms. Buck, who has been teaching for six years, directed this year’s production. She said she loves getting to watch the rehearsal process and students try new things.
Ms. Buck chose “Charlotte’s Web” both years because it is part of the 2nd-grade reading curriculum. That doesn’t mean everyone is a fan of the choice, though.
“I’m tired of doing ‘Charlotte's Web,’” sophomore Chidumebi Echebiri said. “But it's important for the 2nd-graders to see a human re-enactment of a story they’re familiar with.”
The 7th-period production class had rehearsals Mondays through Fridays, and occasionally after school to finish up a run-through.
“My favorite part about rehearsals in general is running the whole show with everyone, especially after we know our lines and are off-book,” Jhett said. “It gets more exciting when we’re off-book and can run the whole play, and be goofy and silly.”
Children’s show offers a stress relief for seniors as the end of their high school days come to an end. Two of the seniors, Sarah Brewer and Bailee Stewart, will continue their theater careers in college, with Sarah headed to the University of Southern California and Bailee to Texas State for performance and production.
“I’m excited because we kind of get to goof around,” said Bailee, who estimates she has been in 30 shows over the course of her high school career, both inside and outside of the PHS program. “A lot of the shows we have to be serious and make character choices, but this show gives us a lot of creative freedom.”
Bailee ended her PHS acting career with “Charlotte’s Web” as Templeton and the narrator.
“I do like the challenge of different types of roles,” Bailee said. “But it seemed like I did usually play the mean character or the villain, so when I got the chance to be a princess, it was a lot of fun.”