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Local elementary school students join drama for “Music Man” production

Jeremy+Orriss+performs+along+side+students+form+local+elementary+schools+during+practice+for+the+spring+musical%2C+%22The+Music+Man.%22
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Local elementary school students join drama for “Music Man” production

Jeremy Orriss performs along side students form local elementary schools during practice for the spring musical,

Jeremy Orriss performs along side students form local elementary schools during practice for the spring musical, "The Music Man."

Photo courtesy of Delaney Lampinen

Jeremy Orriss performs along side students form local elementary schools during practice for the spring musical, "The Music Man."

Photo courtesy of Delaney Lampinen

Photo courtesy of Delaney Lampinen

Jeremy Orriss performs along side students form local elementary schools during practice for the spring musical, "The Music Man."

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The Oak Park High School’s drama department’s 2019 musical production, “The Music Man,” is a theatrical performance filled with acting, dance and many, many trombones. While high school plays and musicals are typically performed solely by high school students, this year’s show will incorporate children from the local elementary schools.

This isn’t the first time children have been part of productions at OPHS. Shows like “Our Town,” “The Wizard of Oz,” and “The Sound of Music” in past years have all included children.

“The idea of having children with us in our production is more realistic and it introduces our program to the elementary schools who, someday, will become [part of the Oak Park drama program],” director and drama teacher Allan Hunt said.

Hunt contacted the principals of nearby elementary schools and invited students to audition. According to Hunt, the principals like the collaboration and encourage their elementary students to participate.

Seven-year-old Joshua Tanenbaum from Willow Elementary School plays 10-year-old Winthrop, a central character in the musical.

“It’s really fun. I like going on stage because I’ve always liked acting and it’s just so fun,” Tanenbaum said. “I really, really like doing the show.”

The character Amaryllis, a young piano student, is played by Charlotte Weiser, a 6-year-old girl from Red Oak Elementary School.

“I’m so excited. This is going to be my first play of my entire life,” Charlotte Weiser said. “It’s really cool that I get to work with [the high school students], it’s my first time ever doing it.”

Charlotte’s mother, Lauren Weiser, said she is delighted to see her daughter be part of the musical because of the experience of being part of a high school production.

“I’m so happy. It gives her such a sense of community and [the opportunity] of meeting these new kids from other schools and the high school and being here on campus where she’s going to end up going — it’s great,” Lauren Weiser said.

Students at OPHS are welcoming young colleagues, aiming to create a comfortable environment. Many cast members even refer to the kids as their “sons” and “daughters.”

“The kids love our students, we kind of adopt them,” Hunt said. “Students want to take them out when they go on their lunch breaks and the parents are very helpful to us.”

Senior and cast member Emma Wachsmith, who plays Marian Paroo in the musical, wrote to the Talon that the kids are “so talented.”

“The cast seems to love them, and all of them seem excited. They are off the book to the point where they’ll recite my lines when I forget!” Wachsmith wrote.

“The Music Man” opens Friday, March 7, through Sunday, March 9. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students and senior citizens. To purchase tickets, visit the Oak Park Performing Arts Alliance website at  http://www.oppaaophs.com

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