A Tale of Two Pinocchios, by Jenn Doubleday
Once upon a time, SCT only offered one musical theatre class. That’s right. One. The class was open to 1st-8th grade students, and was offered three times a year. When we began our first class in the preschool room of Trinity United Methodist Church in 2004, we had just six students. By the time 2007 rolled around, we had just over 50.
When Ms. Kelie and I walked in to our first day of Guys and Dolls, Jr., our eyes sort of glazed over. There were so many children. Of course, so many children was exactly what we had been praying for, but we didn’t quite expect them to all show up at once, and for a musical about hustlers. We knew it was time to expand our program, but the fact remained that all 52 kids had signed up to do Guys and Dolls, Jr. on the dates that we advertised. There was only one logical solution.
We would divide the class and do two productions of the same musical at the same time.
Right. The first hurdle was selling the parents, who were remarkably amicable to the idea. The second hurdle was dividing the kids. We wanted to keep siblings and friends together, but we also wanted a variety of ages and abilities in each cast. There was only one logical solution.
We would have the kids roll dice.
Right. We taught 7-year-olds how to play craps on the second day of class. (Hey, they’re going to pretend to play in the show. So nu?) If they rolled less than 7 they were in my cast; more than 7 and they were in Ms. Kelie’s cast. We had such a great time setting up the game and watching the students cheer for each other. It is one of those high-energy, super-silly memories I will always treasure.
Let me remind you that 2007 was our first year at Crossroads Shopping Center, and we didn’t have a Black Box Theatre. We barely had a Proscenium Theatre! At the time, we were renting only the downstairs portion of the building, most of which was under some form of construction. We rehearsed alongside each other, and the kids really enjoyed seeing the differences and similarities in our two productions. Ms. Kelie and I collaborated on set, lighting and costume designs so that we could effectively share the same space, while giving each cast a full-scale musical theatre experience. The performances were scheduled so the students could see each other perform. These kids were so supportive that they made signs to cheer for each other from the audience, as if they were at a major sporting event and not a small community theatre matinee. It was awesome!
We knew that double shows could not be a permanent fixture, so Kelie wisely divided our next class into elementary and middle school students, which would become Creative Dramatics I and II, respectively. Eventually we added Creative Adventures for young readers in PreK-1st grades, Teen Theatre for high schoolers, and Junior Company for our more serious (read: obsessed) teens.
This season, we had double the enrollment for CDI’s Pinocchio than what we expected. Savannah families seem to really love the unique, character-building experiences that SCT classes have to offer! There was only one logical choice.
We decided to do two different Pinocchios at the same time.
Right. That leads us to this weekend! Each show has a Pinocchio, a Gepetto, a Blue Fairy, Donkeys, and some no-strings-attached puppet humor, but that is where the similarities end. We encourage you to bring out your little ones for a theatrical double-header this weekend. See a fun, energetic Hey Ho, Pinocchio on the Black Box Stage, and a sassy, whimsical The Pinocchio Show on the Proscenium Stage. Tickets are available here on our website.
While you’re there, why not download a registration form for one of our upcoming class shows like The Pied Piper (Grades 2nd-5th), Once Upon a Mattress, Jr (Grades 6th-8th), or The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Grades 9th-12th)? There’s always room for one more. 🙂