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Dec 5, 2018 12:17 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Fourth-Graders Gearing Up For Springs School Opera On Wednesday

The cast and crew of the Springs School Opera.  KYRIL BROMLEY
Dec 11, 2018 1:21 PM

While their performance space may not be a proper proscenium, the chorus of the Springs School Opera, under impresario Megan Lydon, nevertheless should bring the house down next week thanks to a talented troupe of passionate fourth grade students.During a rehearsal last week for their upcoming performance at East Hampton High School on Wednesday, December 12, a parade of dancers entered from stage left as music from the piano and guitar flooded an empty auditorium at the high school.

“Let’s take it from the top,” music teacher Meghan Kelly said as the students snapped, danced and sang along with the music.

A group of six student writers and Ms. Lydon, a fifth grade teacher, sat down in September and came up with ideas for this year’s opera, which they jotted down on a whiteboard, with dry-erase markers, until they came up with a winning theme: the Hurricane of 1938.

“Since the 80th anniversary of the Hurricane of 1938 was September 21, it was in the news,” Ms. Lydon said. “And the students thought that would be a great idea for the opera.” Some of the students’ grandparents lived through the hurricane, she pointed out.

The theme of the show is neighbors helping each other during challenging times. The characters band together to return a lost dog and to rebuild a home damaged by the storm.

Twenty-two years ago, the idea for the student opera emerged, and as the tradition continues, the story line traditionally puts together local history and an original story with dancing and music.

A few years ago, Ms. Lydon said, the students performed a play titled “Bound for Gardiners Island,” which was about Captain Kidd’s buried treasure and the history of Gardiners Island. In another year, the students came up with an original idea about two students immigrating from Portugal to Springs, learning a new language, meeting new friends, and living as newcomers to the area.

Ms. Lydon herself has performed in productions throughout the years, and this will be her third year staging the opera.

“In the beginning of the school year, through music classes, we assessed what jobs the students would be interested in,” she said. “We include everyone, even if they’re a little hesitant. We try to get kids involved with the creative process as much as possible.”

Nathalia Palacio will play Minnie Margret, whose dog, Buddy, gets lost, and whose home is destroyed in the hurricane. The town comes together to bring Buddy back and help rebuild her home.

Nathalia said she is very excited. “It’s a great opportunity to act,” she said, gleaming. “We had to audition, and I’m glad to be a part of the cast.

“I really like acting,” she continued. “Some days we practice our dancing, and other days we practice our singing.”

Patrick Conlon will play Charles, “the funny one in the play,” he said. Patrick, who also helped write the play, said there’s a lot of lines to memorize, but that he’s been having fun acting: “I’m super excited for opening night.”

“I have to rap in front of everyone about the hurricane that swept through town 80 years ago,” explained Valentina Arango. She sang a bit of her part: “It’s the rap of the past and, listen up here, I got a story to tell …

“The other kids sing in the background with, ‘Oh yeah, all right,’ and clap along during my rap,” said Valentina, adding, “I love to sing and dance.”

The Springs School Opera used to be staged at Guild Hall, but this will be the second year it takes place at East Hampton High School. Ms. Lydon said the school had a wonderful relationship with Guild Hall, but that moving the show to the high school saved money. “This opened up funds to have middle school theater opportunity again,” she said of the Springs School’s older students.

“Kids from years ago come up to me and still remember who they played in the opera,” said Kyril Bromley, a Press photographer who has provided piano music for the production since its early days.

“Each student has their own microphone now,” Mr. Bromley added. “Last year, you couldn’t hear them as well on the stage mics.”

Due to several retirements last year, this year’s opera has a team with some new faces, with Amanda Waleko as choreographer, Ms. Kelly as music director, Laura Marino as set designer, and Laura Dunham as costume designer. In addition, John Gibbons will manage the soundboard and play guitar.

At the end of the performance, the actors, set designers, fundraising team, stage hands and all students involved in the show will unite on stage after role call for all to applaud.

After all the hard work writing and putting the show together, the opera will be staged at the high school on Wednesday, December 12, at 7 p.m., free of charge.

“We invite everyone to come,” Ms. Lydon said before ushering the kids into their next scene.

There will also be performances for students from the Springs School and nearby schools on Thursday, December 13.

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