This November, Grade 5 students will return to the stage in front of a live audience for their musical performance of “How I Became a Pirate.” In excitement for the upcoming production, drama teacher and director Julie Lachance provided a sneak peek into the storyline, preparation, and details of this year’s show.
Q: Can you please tell us the name of the show this year, a summary of what it’s about, and why you picked it?
A: The musical we selected this year is “How I Became a Pirate.” It is based on the book by Melinda Long and is about a band of comical pirates that land at North Beach looking for an expert digger to join their crew. During the show, Braid Beard and his mates enlist young Jeremy Jacob to help them look for the perfect spot to bury their treasure. I chose this musical because I felt we needed something silly and fun to provide some light and refreshing entertainment to this post-COVID community. The show is well-written, hilarious, and perfect for Grade 5 students to perform.
Q: When is the show? Will there be a live audience? Will families be able to livestream the musical?
A: The live musical performances are Tuesday, November 16, and Wednesday, November 17 at 6:30 p.m. in Fries Theatre. We will be live-streaming the show for family members who cannot attend. More details will be sent out by the Graland Technology Department closer to the show.
Q: What does the audience have to look forward to during this year’s performance?
A: Fun songs, lively dances, and hilarious dialogue. The audience will be taken on a wild ride through the life of pirates on a ship! Along with Jeremy Jacob, they will learn pirate customs, language, and how to find a good spot to bury a treasure.
Q: What is the process like to prepare for the show?
A: The students rehearse three to four days a week after school. We always begin with ensemble building so that we can approach the project as a team and do character work, especially on pirate physicality and vocal choices. We then learn the music, blocking, and choreography.
Q: Were there auditions for the musical?
A: All students auditioned in order to receive a role in the performance. All students who signed up are in the play, but they had to audition so we could see where they would fit in the show.
Q: How do you see students typically progress from the beginning of a show to the end?
A: The students always come to the first rehearsal with great instincts, and it’s our job to refine those instincts and make sure we are all telling the same story. I watch the students physically embrace their characters and begin to explore deeper motivations for why their character does what they do. The students begin to blossom into a three-dimensional human on stage and they begin to realize the importance of listening to the other actors on the stage. They learn to multitask very quickly. It’s amazing to see them put all of this together, all while dancing and singing under the bright lights.
Q: Why are musicals/the arts an important part of the student experience at Graland? What do you hope students take away from the experience?
A: The arts at Graland are a safe place for students to go where they know they will always be included. They can be in a supportive environment where they get a chance to express themselves creatively and take a break from academic work. Throughout the process, we become a family, and they will take those connections with them for the rest of their life.