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Kid theater: A universal experience | Home Again


Last updated 2/6/2020 at 6:13pm

“Shrek Jr: The Musical” took a couple of chunks out of my Friday and Saturday last week, when Alki Elementary students performed the show at West Seattle High School. You’d probably guess that my grandchildren were involved. Of the three performances, I attended two and regretted missing the third and final one.

If you’re a grandparent, you understand.

Friday evening, I drove through relentless wind and rain, glad to have Uncle Warren with me to see the 7 p.m. opening night performance. He loves my grandchildren, too. Saturday morning I returned to attend the 11 a.m. show. I suspect after the 7 p.m. final performance that evening, actors, backstage workers and the many (MANY) adults involved in the production slept well.

When Alki PTA parents plan a fundraiser, they skimp on no details. On sale in the lobby: raffle tickets, cookies, donuts, bouquets, and souvenir programs, for those of us who wanted the large size, the ones with the photos and mini-bios of each of the actors.

It was the first venture into onstage drama for my 8-year-old Abby (nearly 9) and 10-year-old Adam (nearly 11). Oh, I’ve seen drama at home, of course. I’ve watched magic tricks and living-room gymnastics performances and heard countless singings of “Let It Go,” from the movie “Frozen.”

And then there’s just the general drama of different moods and moments in the daily lives of kids. Neither had a major role in the play, but both danced and sang several times – and Adam occasionally swung a sword.

“Shrek” was an enormous production with weeks of practices, culminating in the thrill of performing on a high school stage – at a school many of the children probably will attend for their own high school educations.

My cousin Nancy, “the other Bradbury girl” as she terms herself, graduated from West Seattle High School quite a long time ago. I will ask her whether she was in drama.

It was my first opportunity to sit in a full house, totally friendly audience experiencing a sizable production by actors and singers age 12 or younger. What audience would be more likely to applaud frequently and enthusiastically than several hundred parents and siblings of elementary school children as those children and their classmates put on a play?

What a wonderful experience for children to hear and to feel such appreciation for their creativity, cooperation, dedication – and talent.

The boy who played the lead has played soccer with Adam for years. I recognized several others who play soccer, too, and it was a pleasure to watch them perform capably on stage as well as on a field.

I tried to figure out how many children were involved in the “Shrek” performance.

Close to 70, just on stage. Behind the scenes? Who knows! But the program showed a lengthy list of adults who gave their time and energy to helping the children succeed.

Our family enjoyed the “Shrek” experience. Abby already has a plan to attend drama camp next summer – and I, lucky Grandma, anticipate further dramatic appearances by both children.


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