The Class of 2022 says, “Hakuna Matata” to Musical Production

Last year’s 6th graders took the saying, “the show must go on,” to the next level after their production of The Lion King was in jeopardy due to Covid-19. Get a glimpse of the creative solution they’ve been working on these last few months.
“They had been working on it since the beginning of the year, and I couldn’t outright cancel it on them,” says FCS Performing Arts teacher Kiersten Whitehead. She wanted to do everything she could to make the show happen - even if it was in a different format. Every FCS 6th grader has a role onstage in the annual musical, which usually premiers in the spring, close to when school moved online in March.

Kiersten proposed producing the show as a film, and the students were eager to continue. Towards the end of July, she scheduled filming days with them in Burnt Mills  Park to film, joined by parent volunteers who provided props, water bottles, or hand sanitizer as needed.

The filming took place in small groups, with masks and within physical distancing measures. “You lose a lot of the face and reactions,” says Kiersten. “I may have to go back and do voiceover work. The nice thing is that you can’t see their mouths, so it doesn’t have to align when I do the editing!”

The students, who’ve also had their lives turned upside down, have remained enthusiastic about producing it in such an unorthodox way, and are still the brightest spot for Kiersten. “It’s their perseverance and creativity and the way they fall in love with the work, and getting to see them doing something they've never done before.”

She also emphasized the collaborative nature of theatre during filming. “The students continue to support one another, and are persistent even though it can be hot and they sweat in costumes. Because it's a new approach, they are really interested in contributing, and suggesting ideas.”

Even during an unprecedented time, creating theatre still evokes reflection. “For me, the forced slowdown of life has pushed me to think about my priorities.” Kiersten added. “Simba runs away from his problems and everything that’s wrong with the world, and that doesn't help. For us, we can see this in today’s world in so many ways. For example, with the BLM movement. We can’t let things stay the way that they were. It’s hard, and it’s hard work, but we have to make change happen. As Glennon Doyle says - We can do hard things!”

With the board decision to make all FCS activities remote, filming ceased and is now planning to shift to recording over Zoom, with individual students performing and doing choreography. Kiersten hopes the film will be done by November or December.
Located in College Park, MD, Friends Community School is a progressive Quaker K-8 day school, founded on the belief that every child is a valued member of our community. We offer a challenging curriculum imbued with strong values of equality, integrity, community, environmental stewardship, simplicity and peaceful conflict resolution, rooted in our Quaker heritage.
Friends Community School
5901 Westchester Park Drive
College Park, Maryland 20740