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Sleepy Hollow Middle School Students Prepare for Peter Pan Performance

But, Peter, how do we get to Neverland?
Fly, of course!

Sleepy Hollow Middle School students are embarking on an adventure to Neverland. Using their "lovely wonderful thoughts" and a bit of fairy dust, the production of Peter Pan, featuring 46 students in the cast and crew, flies onto stage on Friday, January 20 at 7pm with a second performance on Saturday the 21st at 11:30am. The show is directed by Ms. Natlie Arenson and produced by Department Chair Mr. Micah Sprague.

Seventh grade student Chiara Carroccia who is playing Wendy said that rehearsing for this production has been like a party. “It’s so much fun!” said Chiara. “We created our own family and now I see people in the hallways and we give each other hugs.”

Maeve Zara, cast as Liz and a Brave Girl, echoes Chiara’s sentiments: “I love being with this group and have made some new friends. And even though it’s hard work, when you see it start to come together - it’s just amazing.”

The classic musical is ideal for middle school performers, as it has a wide variety of roles and great ensemble numbers, giving everyone in the cast a plethora of material. The production will be sung to tracks but SHMS Music Director Kathryn Krull taught the music and shaped the dynamics of the vocals - a complex task as Tinkerbell's "voice" runs continuously with breaks in between for the actor's lines. As such, getting the timing right with the actors and tech team took considerable practice. 

While the cast has been engrossed in learning lines and dance numbers, the stage crew has been hard at work finding props and set pieces, as well as practicing scene changes on stage. The tech crew has been programming lights and running sound cues.

Ms. Arenson says that the cast and crew need to feel like they are on the same team and that the group has had important conversations about this. “In my experience, students tend to think of the cast and the crew as separate units,” she said. “We've discussed how we have the same goal, and we're not divided. In fact, we rely on each other. They've been doing a great job thinking of themselves as a team and recognizing the work they're all doing.”

This connection between cast and crew, as well as the learning experience, has been greatly enhanced by the presence of several SHHS students who have been volunteering their time to assist with the production. Senior Emily Burke, who has been the stage manager for several plays and plans to pursue stage management in college, has been focused on helping the crew learn their craft and “to be the mature person on stage.” 

“Assisting the crew is a good experience for me but, more than anything, this is my passion and I really want to give back,” said Emily. “And Ms. Arenson is amazing and I love working with her.”

Without question, Ms. Arenson has won the admiration and respect of her students. When asked about the importance of the arts in schools she had this to say: “I could talk about this for hours! But in short, the arts are as valuable in schools as all other extra-curricular activities. You learn teamwork, discipline, how to stand in front of people with confidence, how to walk away from a mistake but fix it and come back...there are so many life lessons to be learned in the theater. And while I always want the shows I direct to be as good as they can be, my main goal is for the students to walk away from this experience having learned something about themselves and to feel proud of what they created with their peers. If they leave this show feeling proud of themselves and their friends, then I've done my job.”

Additional thanks go to Ms. Conia for making orchestra students available for Monday rehearsal, as well as Middle School Nurse Ms. Sherich for measuring students for the costumes.