They look at the floor when they sing. They’ve only been practising two afternoons a week since March Break. They can’t fully sing a cappella yet, they still need the piano and occasionally look at their teacher with wide eyes.
But it was wonderful.
Kristin, the composer for SHOUT!, has been working at a Middle School this year. When I told her what a success the one act version had been in Florida, she decided to try it out with her own students. She divided the four part harmony down to two and stayed at the piano throughout throwing out starting notes, playing underneath for support.
It’s great for us to have this test show because we know we’ll get the question ‘is SHOUT suitable for Middle Schools?’ Can they do it?
It was fascinating to see the show with such young actors. The story still works. I’ve seen the show a million times now and I still cried at the end. The music is still moving. Everything is raw and instinctual, which makes me very happy because it means the students were connecting to the play unconsciously. It works, it works! Yes they can do it!
They all had fun with the songs, even if they were too shy to sing out fully. But you could see their confidence growing. There was a huge difference in the show from the dress rehearsal in the morning to the performance at night. The girl who sang ‘My Brother Andy’ sang simply and with sincerity (AND a capella!!). It was heartbreaking. There were eight Buzzy Bees instead of four, and they had just as much fun onstage. One girl, who would only come on stage for the last song, asked at the last minute if she could sit on the stage for the whole show with the others.
They were excited and pleased and proud of what they had accomplished. To see that just makes me want to explode with pride. It’s the kind of experience that Theatre should always be.