Three months of extraordinary effort on the part of students and staff at Parmalee Elementary School paid off handsomely with the year-end production of “The Jungle Book,” which was performed May 1 and 2 by the entire student body.
Music teacher Christine Gaudreau came up with the idea of an all-school play involving 200 students, and fellow educators at the school made it possible by offering so much support, she said.
“I wanted to give the children the opportunity to be part of a longer, high-quality show — to experience better music and a really good story,” Gaudreau explained.
The program required strategic planning for all grade levels to practice during music classes and at other times, while Gaudreau continued to teach her regular curriculum.
“We did a few things outside of school, but the art teachers and P.E. were very supportive — the key was to plan wisely,” she said.
She treated the play like a first-rate production, holding auditions and callbacks to identify lead actors. Students learned songs, dialogue and dance steps.
It was the first time the entire school joined forces in such a venture, Gaudreau said.
Most often school plays are performed by specific age groups and are about 20 minutes long. This one was 50 minutes long.
Gaudreau, who has a master’s degree in choral conducting, has been a teacher at the school since 2002. She has an extensive background in music spanning the last 18 years, much of which was in California. She has been a private music teacher to students and adults, a teacher in public schools, and she has started chamber choirs and created specialty music programs.
On a local level, she was the director of an Evergreen Chorale performance in 2007, and she was adult music director at Rockland Community Church in Golden for two years.
“She does it first-class,” parent Pam Wilcox said of Gaudreau’s direction.
“I could have definitely not done it without staff and parents,” Gaudreau added.
Parent Debbie Dawson headed the costume design with a host of other hardworking parents, including Wilcox who led the set design.
“They worked tirelessly to costume 200 total children,” Gaudreau said. “That means a lot of elephant trunks and monkey ears and snakes.”
The Disney production, set in India, was performed on two nights, with about half the student body performing Thursday and the other half Friday. Two of the students were Gaudreau’s own children, Max and Annika Shaulis. She will soon meet with school staff to determine if they will tackle such a complex endeavor again.
“It was very rewarding to see all the children work together as a team — it took so many skills,” Gaudreau said. “They saw how so many pieces created one big beautiful gift to the audience.”