Olivia Spence and Andrea Allen giggled as they prepared to debut their roles in “The Magic Porridge Pot” for classmates at Northwest Elementary School on Monday.
The first-graders were just minutes away from donning their costumes and presenting the 15-minute play.
“No, I’m not wearing that thing on my head again,” Andrea said, a slight pout forming on her face.
“I love the little bonnet,” Olivia said, smiling at her friend.
“I know it’s a costume, but I don’t want to wear it,” Andrea said before describing the accessory for the News-Argus. “It’s a little thing, I’m supposed to have a white hat and a white cooking thing.”
“An apron,” chimed in Olivia. “I have an apron, but my apron is like a dress.”
The pep talk seemed to help, as the girls channeled their energies — and made the bonnet work — in the performance. At one point, after Andrea delivered her lines, Olivia turned and gave an impromptu “thumbs-up” to her classmate.
Their teacher, Crystal Hodges, was admittedly proud of her students’ efforts, and the Bright Ideas Education Grant that made it possible. The grant was received from Tri-County Electric Membership Corp.
“My project was about using a wax museum for students to share about folk tales from around the world,” she said. “ ‘The Magic Porridge Pot’ is a German folk tale written by Mary Susan Heath.”
Several of her fledgling actors shared about the experience leading up to this week’s performances, first for other classmates followed by one for the parents on Tuesday night.
“We get to have stories and we had to read it so we would know what to say,” said Andrea, adding, “It’s magical.”
Bailey Metz, one of the dancers in the bubbling porridge pot, explained the storyline as being about a woman with a cooking pot and how she handled it when she got “real hungry.”
“The reason I like this is because there can be characters in it and it’s a great story because it’s like people reading and lots of things that are in there and it’s very lovely and beautiful,” said Olivia. “It can be a great story for kids and grownups.
“I think that it’s my favorite book from now on.”
Andrea said her favorite part was the dancing, when several classmates made a circle and did their impression of a boiling pot of porridge.
Summit Knope, who was Narrator I, called it a good exercise in reading.
“It helps you read — I have to read a lot of parts,” he said.
The experience also provided an opportunity in public speaking.
“I feel very good because I never went on a real stage before,” Olivia said.
“It’s my first time getting to hold a mic,” Summit said.
Bailey shrugged off any references to stage fright.
“This is like my 100th time on stage,” she said. “I love dancing. It’s my favorite thing.”
Classmate Molly Costello, another dancer in the porridge pot, also enthused about the project.
“I’m so excited because we get to do so much fun stuff,” she said.
Hodges also incorporated audience members into the mix, as she explained how the interactive readers theater works.
“Whenever he holds up a sign, you’re going to read it,” she said of the cue cards being held up with messages like “Stop, little pot, stop!” Another one featured the stage direction, “Whoosh!” which Hodges demonstrated by holding up her arms and swaying.
She also incorporated volunteer readers from the audience for several parts.
When the play ended, students took their bows and Hodges presented a copy of the book, “The Magic Porridge Pot,” to the guest teachers for their classrooms.