“Is there anyone having issues with their ears falling off?” asked SA teacher Rachel. That might be an alarming question in a regular classroom, but in Summer Academy Players Presents, it’s par for the course. Earlier she asked, “Who moves the river?” In theater, nothing is ever as it seems.
Summer Academy Players this year have tackled “The Tale of the Chinese Zodiac”, a play that is entertainment and education in one production.
“It’s a way to teach younger kids the order of the Chinese Zodiac in a fun way that keeps their attention,” explained Molly, who plays a goat in the play.
It is the story of the Zodiac, agreed Eleanor, “but it has a little bit of a twist. It’s an awards show with three hosts. Animals in the Zodiac come and do a song and dance.”
The Emperor, Aldo, is the only human character in the play. “I set up the race. All the Chinese animals race across the Yellow River,” he said. “The first 12 are the winners and become the Zodiac.”
Aldo enjoys theater because it’s a place he can use his verbosity to great effect. “My parents and cousins always antagonize me about saying too much and being in their faces,” he laughed. He is in his element interacting with other actors.
Bunny #1, Gigi, represents the bunnies at the awards ceremony. “Bunny #1 gets the sash that shows your name and the Chinese symbol for rabbit. It represents that you made it through the Zodiac,” she said.
Leah plays Bunny #2. “All the bunnies are very energetic and hoppy,” she said. They made it across the river, but only due to the kind assistance of another racer. “The dragon saved them when they were stranded on a log,” Leah explained.
J, the benevolent bunny-rescuing dragon, has been in a few SA Players plays and also acts in other productions. “It’s like a little community,” he said about the theater. J is confident with his singing, “but I can’t dance for the life of me,” he laughed.
When Jenna saw a SA Players production as a younger SA student, she knew she wanted to join the class. “A couple of years ago I saw the show and I really liked it,” she said. “I did the show last year and played a bratty princess.”
Jenna usually plays sports during the school year and she likes being able to try something else at Summer Academy. “It’s fun to do something different. You get to be different people.”