This story originally appeared in the spring 2014 Harker Quarterly.
On Jan. 30-31, grade 5 students came together on one stage for “Schoolhouse Rock Live! Jr.,” a tribute to the classic educational cartoon series. The show, directed by lower school performing arts teacher Kellie Binney-Smart, followed the young Tom Mizer (played by students Srinath Somasundaram, Levi Sutton, John Lynch and Chance Hewitt, who switched off during the show) amid preparations for his first day as a teacher. As he goes about his business, he notices his thoughts materializing in front of him. He turns on the TV to calm his nerves, and the lessons of “Schoolhouse Rock” leap from the screen to show him all the fascinating things he can teach.
The show featured many of “Schoolhouse Rock’s” most famous songs, including “A Noun is a Person, Place or Thing,” “Interplanet Janet” and “Just a Bill,” each with unique choreography and costuming. “The Great American Melting Pot,” for example, featured a student dressed as the Statue of Liberty, while “Interplanet Janet” had students dressed in gleaming robes representing the different planets.
Scenic artist Whitney Pintello’s creative set design transformed the entire Bucknall Theater stage into a massive TV set – complete with color bars – in which most of the action took place. Karoli Clever and Ken Boswell acted as the show’s stage managers, while Danny Higgins Dunn’s work as technical director kept the show running tip-top, with her technical theater students indispensable as the show’s crew and costume assistants.