Students build opera/musical from the ground up

Show is being toured through Delta schools this month

Students from the Delta School District’s Performance Academy with Vancouver Opera are busy this month visiting Delta schools performing their one-act opera/musical inspired by Maurice Sendak’s classic picture book Where the Wild Things Are.

The students wrote, composed and designed the production in collaboration with composer Lesley Sutherland, vocal coach Leah Giselle Field and herself, says director Sarah Jane Pelzer.

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She says the students worked really effectively as a team and everyone contributed.

“The really cool thing for me that’s come out of this project is seeing how naturally the students went through the process of building something up from scratch,” says Pelzer, who’s an instructor at the academy and also a freelance director who occasionally does work at Vancouver Opera. “It was never a struggle to get them to have ideas and to engage with the process of going from a book with 300 words to creating a full musical.”

Kris Starr plays one of the Wild Things in the production. The Grade 11 student says going through the process of turning a book into a play was difficult but still a lot of fun.

“The thing about making a play from scratch is that there are no restrictions on you. That’s one of the best and one of the hardest parts, because there’s no one watching over you telling you to do certain things with certain parts of the book,” Starr says. “You get to pick and choose everything that you want.”

The ArtStarts in Schools charitable organization provided a grant for this project, notes district vice principal of academies Paige Hansen.

She adds that Sutherland has visited the schools ahead of time and worked with students on one of the songs so they can be a part of the show as well.

Upcoming shows are scheduled for Pebble Hill, Hawthorne, Neilson Grove and Beach Grove elementary schools.

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