Middle schoolers take stage in Trinity Episcopal's play
April 30, 2011 at midnight
Updated April 29, 2011 at 11:30 p.m.
Chatters turned into little-bodied "shhh's" when the first familiar beats of "Summer Nights" blared through the parish hall at Trinity Episcopal Church on Thursday morning.
The entire audience was silent by the time curtains opened to reveal the 7th-grade class, clad in 1950s garb, who would perform the famous "Grease" duet.
"I was just beaming at them when I finally got to sit down and watch them," said Ann Johannsen, the show's coordinator and music teacher at Trinity Episcopal School.
This is the first time the 6th-, 7th- and 8th-graders have given such a performance for everyone in the school from front-row kindergartners to back-row parents.
Johannsen said the kids choreographed most of the numbers and created the costumes, props and makeup designs themselves.
After almost a whole spring semester devoted to working on the performance, Johannsen said she was most touched by the amount of talent the kids exhibited.
"I get to see each child more individually, and it brings out things that may not come out elsewhere," she said.
Before the 7th-grade girls skipped with ice cream cones and the boys wobbled their denim-covered knees to "well-a, well-a, well-a huh," the 6th-graders gave a reggae performance.
Friends Sydney Bethea, 12, and Ariana Junor, 11, grooved to a drum, guitar and xylophone beat created by their classmates.
The duo spent months choreographing and getting their moves synched for Thursday's performance.
"We have come together, and we worked together pretty hard." Sydney said of the entire class.
While Sydney and Ariana sang and danced, the rest of the class kept the beat with their instruments.
The 6th-graders said they took turns learning the instruments before each finding their specialty.
"There were bumps along the road, but we made it," Ariana said. "It all sort of fell into place."
A group of 6th-grade girls gathered after the play and said they wished they had more opportunities to be on stage.
"I want to do theater in high school and be an actor and singer when I grow up," Sydney said, and added, "and a physical therapist."
The girls gave Johannsen a hug, thanked her for coordinating the performance and offered their help in taking down the set.
The teacher took a deep breath and said she enjoyed giving the kids a theatrical experience.
"It is a lot of work, but they're good kids. They're a lot of fun," she said.