Magic It Up!
July 03, 2019
By Kate Defeo
On May 18 and 19 the Garden Players premiered Magic It Up, an original family musical with book and lyrics by
Betina Hershey and music by Sunny Knable. This production was a labor of love involving many students from 1st through 8th grade, parents, artists, and teachers from all over Queens.
This was my first year working with the Garden Players, and the play creation was such an exciting process to witness! My background
is in improvisational theater, so it was a thrill to see that the source material for
writing the original musical was
created by having the students run acting improv exercises. During classes, the students would break out into groups and would come up with scenes to discover how the Unicorns should move (doing tai-chi while slowly passing wisdom, of course!) and what the
Hairsomes should be up to (whimsical dancing and tumbling, too!) and don’t forget how the Water Eagles should rule (by flapping their wings and drowning the kids in air!). Even the 1st and 2nd graders got into the action by improvising what their own personal wishes would be if they could wave a magic
wand (my personal favorite being I wish I was a grandmother) which then became the words to the beautiful song, I Wish.
One of my favorite sessions was watching the 8th graders develop all of the wizards. What started out as one allusion to The Wizard of Oz with The Wizard of Paws, became a multitude of rhyme from the students, creating the Wizards: Pause, Cause, Sauce, Floss and Flaws. It was a joy to watch the students steer the direction of the play creating a
wonderful sense of ownership of the words and the songs.
There were so many wonderful supporters of this program, whether it
was the graduates from the Garden Players returning to work the show weekend and spending time reminiscing on their time with the program, or parents doing all of the make-up and costumes, or the fantastic artists Liz Sheehan and Diane Castañeda helping to create the sets; this show was truly a spectacle of community.
Sets volunteer Steve Hofmann excitedly whispered during the closing show, “I never realized how much I loved
theater until my son started performing. Getting involved and helping to build the sets was exciting. I can’t wait to do even more!”
The Garden Players start up again at the end of September as they get ready for another new musical next May. Registration and more information is available at gardenplayers.com.