Forget the North Pole – students at Pineville Elementary School are spending this year’s Christmas season in Whoville.
The school’s fourth- and fifth-grade chorus students and the entire second-grade class are gearing up for their stage production of the musical “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” slated for Thursday, Dec. 19, at 7 p.m. at the school, 210 Lowry St. There is no charge for admission.
More than 180 students – including about 50 fourth- and fifth-grade actors and a nearly 140-member second-grade chorus – will take the stage Thursday for the musical, which follows the well-known Dr. Seuss book. The show features six songs including musical numbers from both the classic 1966 cartoon and the 2000 live action film starring Jim Carrey.
Music teacher Emily Maxwell handpicked songs from both soundtracks she felt best fit the script, which she obtained through Reader’s Theater.
“I like to choose songs that are popular, as well – that the kids know and the parents know,” Maxwell said, adding she chose to do the show because it’s a book students often read as part of their literacy curriculum. “A lot of times, I choose (to perform) books that are related (to the curriculum), that kids will enjoy and have read before.”
The entire second-grade class will participate in the show as the chorus, singing favorites like “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and “Trim Up the Tree,” as well as modern classics like “Green Christmas” and Faith Hill’s “Where Are You, Christmas?” Maxwell hosted auditions for fourth- and fifth-graders – who’ll play the roles of the Whos and the Grinch – earlier this school year, and the cast has been rehearsing since October.
Though Maxwell said it’s been challenging maintaining crowd control with so many kids in the same room, the students have performed well and are excited about the production.
“When they enjoy something, they really focus on it, so it’s been great,” she said.
While Maxwell worked with art teacher Mary Rutherford to design the set, which will consist of a Whoville scene, Christmas tree and a chimney, students had a hand in selecting their own costumes – many of which consist of “mismatched clothing,” Maxwell said, to represent the people of Whoville.
Maxwell said she hopes participating in the show will teach students how to generate stage presence and not be shy when performing.
“Most of these kids are 7 and 8 years old. A lot of them, it’s their first time being on stage singing in front of people,” she said. “… I love watching the kids because they enjoy it so much; they have the best time and the biggest smiles on their faces.”
Maxwell added people who come to the show can expect a “really heartwarming experience” as they listen to the children sing songs of the season and watch their faces light up on stage. “It’s just … a really sweet experience.”