Earlier this month I attended the premier of “Our history on the South Key Peninsula,” a musical. The story is by Connie Hildahl and Voski Sprague, with music by Teri Hammon. It played to a packed audience at Evergreen Elementary and featured performances by thespians from third through fifth grades.
“The thought behind this — a history to be proud of and to celebrate — came from how can we best share with elementary school students to know and ‘own’ their rich history?” Hildahl explained. “A play in which students of Evergreen would depict the story was decided on. Through many practice sessions, thanks to Teri, students had a wonderful time sharing our history.”
To fifth-grader Dustyn Gonzales, “the play was an adventure, and I like adventure. It turned out to be fun and rewarding. Learning my part took forever. I practiced for hours. Sometimes I stayed up all night.”
Classmate Traisey Strange thought “the play was fun, and I want people to know that history can be fun.” Classmate Che Watkinson thought “people should know that plays and history should be taken seriously.”
“Putting this together was a challenge,” Hammon said.
Hammon wrote the music, worked with the kids, ran the rehearsals, did all the costuming — even created the PowerPoint program.
“In the end, I think it was so important to the kids and that is what matters,” she said. “As we met to shape the play, ideas began to flitter through my brain.”
She found herself wakened in the middle of the night with melodies and lyrics swirling around in her head.
“The real drawback to this is that it meant I had to get out of bed and get it written down,” Hammon said. “Otherwise I couldn’t go back to sleep. People comment that they can’t stop singing the “Mail Day! Chicken Dinner!” song. I take that as a compliment.”
Fourth-grader Emma Lindhartsen “worked really hard each day to learn my parts and thought it was as educational as it was fun.” Clara Whitmarsh “was scared and nervous, but I got over it and did good even though I messed up a bit. I worked really hard; my dad helped.”
“The play was educational for people who live in Home,” Emma Keddy said. “I want people to know that Home was and is a very special place.”
Classmate Olivia Burich “thought the play was awesome because I got to act as people way back when.” Ally Fredericksen thought “the play was a truly amazing experience because Mrs. Hammon worked so hard.”
To Kaylee Stanton, “It was a great experience. I think when I performed I was a little quiet and a little too fast. It was fun to do something new.” Agreeing, Joey Geier wants “people to know that it was fun to do something else every once in a while.”
For fifth-grader Indigo Clark, “The play was a fun way of showing off the Key Peninsula and I thought it turned out well. I practiced a lot. When I was sick on the last rehearsal, I practiced at home. I think I did pretty good. I tried my best and that’s all that matters. Stage fright really isn’t an issue when everybody is telling you to do your best, and knowing whatever you do, if you mess up, pretend everything is fine.”
Evergreen school staff provided costumes, props, set pieces and worked backstage. Sylvia Wilson, a teacher at Vaughn Elementary, provided set design, painted the backdrop and loaned stands for the backdrop. Scott and Kelly Clarke assisted with costumes and prop construction. Vickie Shurr loaned a large number of costume pieces. Peninsula High School loaned the stage and the PSD maintenance department made sure Evergreen’s gym was ready for the show. The Bluegrass Minstrels provided accompaniment and pre-show music, as well as loaned their band mics and speakers.
“A special thank you to Evergreen Principal Hugh Maxwell for support he and his team gave this endeavor,” Hildahl added. “Big thanks to Voski Sprague, a longtime Key Peninsula resident, who put so many hours into writing this play with me. Teri wrote and led the music, and members of the Bluegrass Minstrels were a fantastic backup. We had strong support from the Longbranch Improvement Club and the Angel Guild as well.
“And a big thank you to all who attended the play — together we made it happen!” she added.
“All in all, it was a terrific community effort that enabled this show to happen,” Hammon said.
I can attest that it was truly a class act! Broadway next?