On Friday night, the curtain goes up on the debut of this year’s Fifth Grade Musical – a rousing rendition of the 1957 classic, the Music Man Jr.
Nearly 100 fifth graders from all three of South Pasadena’s elementary schools are taking part in the production. They have been rehearsing for several months, running their lines and practicing their choreography.
“My favorite part, I think, is the dancing. There’s a lot of dancing,” said Helena Foord, a 5th grader at Monterey Hills Elementary. “Actually, the whole musical is my favorite and this is definitely the highlight of being in fifth grade.”
Written by Meredith Wilson, the Music Man Jr. was a Broadway hit that won five Tony Awards in 1957, including Best Musical. It tells the story of Harold Hall, a two-bit con man who visits a the small Iowa town of River City to sell band instruments. Yet, before he can take the money and run, he falls in love with the town’s piano teacher Marian Paroo who helps him see the error in his ways.
“These guys have worked their tails off. We have 5th graders doing barbershop quartet close harmony singing. That’s hard for anybody,” said director Patrick Hallahan of Upstage Theater Arts School. “I love that they get an idea of what goes into telling a story…to see how the hot dogs get made, so to speak. But more directly, these kids, who all go to different elementary schools, will end up in middle and high school together eventually. If this helps them make that transition more easily…to have friends with some common ground…that’s priceless.”
The Fifth Grade Musical is a tradition in South Pasadena that brings together students from all three of the elementary schools in collaboration on one big, entertaining event. The production is sponsored by the South Pasadena Educational Foundation and organized by the Upstage Theater Schools. This year’s production of The Music Man, Jr. will follow in the tradition of showcasing the many key elements of collaboration between SPEF and the SPUSD, including afterschool enrichment, hometown volunteerism, and a commitment to the arts.
“Of all the things we do, this is one of our favorite events,” said SPEF president Scott Moe. “It’s a tremendous learning experience for the kids and what they’re able to achieve is really remarkable.”
There will be four performances of the Music Man Jr. The first is Friday, February 10 at 7:30 p.m. at the South Pasadena High School Auditorium. There will be two performances Saturday, February 11, at 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The final show will be on Sunday, February 12 at 2:30 p.m. If you haven’t already purchased your ticket, more will be available at the door for $10.