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Stepping on Stage, Stepping up Courage: The Fifth Grade Musical

The spotlight turns on, the curtain goes up, and the audience grows quiet with anticipation.  The magic of theater is in its ability to transform a stage and create a space for creativity, collaboration, and new ideas to emerge.

This past December, the ISP fifth-grade class performed an original musical, “Big Trouble in the Neighbourhood,” created by our ES Music teacher, Ms. Suzanne Higgins.

This is not the first musical written by Ms. Higgins, who realized early in her international teaching career that by writing her own productions, she could tailor parts specifically for students and make the theme of the productions relevant to the community.

In case you missed “Big Trouble in the Neighborhood,” it’s a bit like West Side Story for kids.  There are two opposing groups – the odd gang and the even gang – and even though they don’t seem to get along at the beginning, they have to overcome their differences and work together.

“Big Trouble in the Neighborhood” explores the ideas of difference, collaboration, and social unity.

I really liked the musical because I love being on stage and really liked learning lines and rehearsals.  Everyone was so nice. Also, my mom helped paint the sets and she and added something small for me to look at on stage. I really liked the experience – it was so much fun.

Amalia, Grade 5 student

Participating in a big musical production like this provides all the students with the opportunity to experience collaboration on a big scale. From singing and dancing, to playing music during the transitions, and designing the program, there was a part for everyone in this production.  It was a real-world experience of being a part of a theater company, complete with auditions for those students wanting lead parts, and supporting roles created for students still developing their stage confidence.

I thought it was really nice because when I did plays in the past I was an extra and I didn’t get to say anything. In this musical, I got a chance to play a main role. I felt really happy about that.

Pasoon, Grade 5 student

“The facilities at ISP are incredible – the Landau Theater is a proper theater with professional lights, professional sound, and a massive stage. It’s an amazing opportunity for students to get on stage in front of an audience, and push themselves beyond their comfort zone. There is so much responsibility that goes into putting on a big show like this – it’s not just about the music and the performance, it’s really about teamwork and developing life skills.  The fifth graders were so enthusiastic, I couldn’t believe it. They loved it and it paid off! They made the production really come to life.“

Ms. Higgins, Elementary School Music Teacher

“Big Trouble in the Neighborhood” was a Big deal for our community! Many incredible teachers supported the crew on stage and behind the scenes. Major shout-outs to Mr. Chip, the art teacher, and his dedicated and artistic team of parent painters, Ms. Corky Hawkins for her expertise designing the show choreography, Ms. Ashley Eames who supported with directing, Andy Schofield who supported with the sound, and Josh Stewart, our new theater manager, to name a few! To everyone else who contributed to the show, we are so grateful!

The musical was a really good experience for us because we worked together as a team, and it brought us together as a 5th grade community.

Dora, Grade 5 student

While the curtain has closed on “Big Trouble in the Neighborhood,” it’s not too late to see it! To relive the magic, please check out the livestream of the production here.

Painting by Tatiana – the Mona Higgins.