M’KIS Elementary School (ES) Presents “Winnie-the-Pooh”!

Elementary Production Win(nie)s Over Many Hearts

By: Svara Carmel Narasiah, Grade 10, on behalf of The Beat, the M’KIS’ Student Newspaper

On March 8 and March 9, the Elementary School students presented the musical production of Winnie-the Pooh at the M'KIS Theatre, winning over many hearts. Grade 10 student Svara, on behalf of the Beat, M'KIS' student newspaper, describes the community's experience. “Winnie-the-Pooh,” a classic childhood story brimming with nostalgia, has recently been performed by the talented elementary school students of M’KIS.

“Winnie-the-Pooh,” a classic childhood story brimming with nostalgia, has recently been performed by the talented elementary school students of M’KIS.

Following the eccentric lives of Christopher Robin and his imaginary animal friends – playful Piglet, bouncing Tigger, clever Owl, sensible Rabbit, mopey Eeyore, the heartwarming mother-son pair of Kanga and Roo, and the bumbling Winnie-the-Pooh himself – this production reignited the childlike innocence by allowing both students and adults alike to enjoy a sweet, peaceful story. 

The set, playfully embellished with forest-green light, presented an array of equally colorful characters–including bees, birds, frogs and foxes. Their vibrant costumes provided a stark contrast against the storybook-esque set consisting of humble critter homes. Adopting the image of hand-drawn treehouses, dens and burrows (along with the intentionally misspelled signs by the animals’ front porches), they were strikingly reminiscent of the original Winnie-the-Pooh books, providing a faithful adaptation of A.A Milne’s beloved stories. 

“It’s a painstaking process,” says Mr. Dan Miller, director of the show and ES Music Teacher at the M’KIS. “At first imagining what it’s going to look like, imagining what it’s going to sound like, and then somehow writing it down!”

While the production’s choreography, music and setup may have appeared natural to the eyes of an audience member, the cast and crew worked hard to make the show happen. 

“We had twenty rehearsals,” Mr. Miller recalls, “each one about an hour and fifteen minutes. “But as the director, I spent hours and hours imagining every scene. I would say that the time I spent on the show was double the time spent rehearsing with the kids–people probably walked by and saw me dancing by myself, doing ballet, doing weird stuff and singing solos.” 

“We spent six months preparing for a 45-minute play,” says Ms. Belle Chew, producer of the show and ES faculty member. “The planning started last October, and the rehearsals started in January. We had to decide the best play to produce for our community, communicate with parents about the show, and put the songs online for students to learn.”

Although their commitment to the show was extraordinarily admirable, it wasn’t just the teacher who made the performance happen. The hardworking cast also contributed to efficiency and productivity during rehearsals and the play itself. 

“They really came in to get the job done,” Mr. Miller says. “ Overall, they were very impressive, focused cast members.” 

“Communication is very important,” says Ms. Belle when asked about her experience mentoring and collaborating with the cast of the show. “Knowing our own strengths is very important to make things run smoothly.”

While certain aspects of the play (namely the fear of an imaginary monster, the Backson, which prompted a few songs and carried the plot of the show) may have been amplified using red lights, a daunting soundtrack and perhaps even a shadowy silhouette of the beast itself, the performance’s charming, mild portrayal of the creature made it perfect for the eyes of small children and infants–many of which were in the audience during the show.

Thanks to the whimsical animal costumes, picturesque set pieces and lively musical numbers, all audience members–particularly children–were enraptured, delighted and happily entertained throughout. This was particularly credited to the talented actors who threw their hearts and souls into their performances.  

When asked what her favorite scene of the play was, Nina, who played Owl responded, “The Backson scene. It was my solo, and I felt really proud of it because when we were working on it in Mr. Miller’s room, he said that it was the hardest song in the whole play–and he gave it to me, so I felt really proud.”

Nina and the rest of the cast didn't just rehearse at school. “My mom showed me this video of middle schoolers doing the same performance,” she recalls. “I watched it five times. Owl is also quite old, so I had to sound a bit more knowledgeable when I played him. My dad tried to help–he said ‘be so knowledgeable that you overthink yourself. Be so knowledgeable that you don’t know what you’re talking about.’”

Students of all different grade levels coming together to create one big project also presented opportunities for new friendships. “The person who played Eeyore was in my class for two years,” Nina says, “but I never really got to know him before.”

With such a massive group of keen students, teachers and parents alike, Saturday’s Winnie-the-Pooh performance seamlessly portrayed a timeless classic of A.A Milne’s stories - through the talented cast of MKIS students and the undying enthusiasm of teachers and parents alike. 

Despite the hard work, the fun of preparing for the play and the reward of an excellent production was clear for the cast and for Mr. Miller. He added, “I love doing musicals…it keeps you up at night. But I love it–it’s so much fun.”