Salisbury Academy performs Winnie-the-Pooh in a vibrant collaboration

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 2, 2024

Salisbury Academy News Service

SALISBURY — Salisbury Academy took artistic collaboration to a new level in their production of an original adaptation of “Winnie-the-Pooh.” The play was performed at Lee Street theatre last weekend through a well-established partnership with the theater, and the play itself was a collaboration with local playwright and director Jenny Hubbard, directing her original play. 

Hubbard said that many of the cast members had not yet had experiences with theater, and she wanted each child to have an integral role on the team from the get-go. 

“When one player slips, another player is there to lend a hand. When one player succeeds, the whole team succeeds,” Hubbard said. “I hope that these kids all walked away with a tremendous sense of accomplishment.” 

The show cast students in third grade through 11th grade in an imaginative mix of roles, all unfolding five tales of Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends. Choreography was provided by local theater talent Winnie Mikkelson, and music was composed and directed by Salisbury Academy 10th-grader Luke Bardinas.

Fifth grade student at Salisbury Academy Genevieve Keith played the role of Winnie-the Pooh.

“It was so special, learning lines and having great teachers lead us,” Keith said. “Being in the play inspired me to have more theater experiences. I really enjoyed it.” 

Another exciting aspect of the play collaboration was the way in which Salisbury Academy Upper School students exercised their creativity to support the show through music, tech, props, set production, costumes and more.

Bardinas composed original music for the play which he performed live during the show.

“When Ms. Hubbard asked if I wanted to compose music for the play, I was surprised. I’d written songs for the play “Little Women,” but still, it was a leap of faith,” Bardinas said.

Bardinas indicated that, at first, he was ready to write an entire symphony. He had to scale back his ideas and ultimately came up with music that added a delightful dimension to the show.

“It was a little tiring, but a really fun process. And it was amazing to see it all come together,” Bardinas said.

Characters were equipped with props and costumes made by Upper School students, and their story played out on a set created by the Upper School geometry class. 

Regarding the set pieces measured and made out of wood by geometry students, geometry teacher Steve Cobb said that one particular challenge for his students was the creation of an arc at the top of a rectangular panel.

To do that, he said, the students needed to find the center of the circle of which that arc was a part using two properties of circles that they had recently discovered and proved: that the perpendicular bisector of a chord is a diameter, and that all diameters meet in the center of the circle.

“The point where the perpendicular bisectors intersected was the center of the circle,” Cobb said. “Once we found it, we used the string compass again to draw the arc, then used a jigsaw to cut it out. The result is the ‘hillside’ that appears on the end of Rabbit’s house.”

Ultimately, the 45-minute play was performed to two sold-out audiences and yielded an extremely proud cast and empowered support team.

Hubbard mentioned that over the six weeks she worked with them, she never tired of watching the children improve day by day, watching their lightbulbs go off as they embraced the moment and had some good, old-fashioned fun.

“It’s a beautiful process, going from page to stage, especially when you have such charming and spirited children going with you,” Hubbard said.