Bugz Life play

With the holiday season drawing near, the first- and second-grade students of Marion Visual & Performing Arts Magnet are preparing to showcase three months worth of work to put on “A Bugz Christmas” with the help of theater teacher Whitney Hall, program director Brandy Allison, and music director Josh Rousseau.

The comedy about termites and Christmas lights will take the stage of the Marion Performing Arts Center on Friday, December 2 at 6 p.m.

Second-grade students Rebecca Mathis and Lilliam Wren bring their outside performance skills to the table. Mathis has a history in modeling, while Wren, starring as the Queen Bee, does gymnastics outside of acting with VPA. The duo, alongside the expansive cast of students, have been putting in time and effort implementing the skills they have learned while working with Hall.

“We’ve been learning about the actors' toolbox. About body language, facial expressions, and having a focal point to look at so we’re not staring at people,” said Mathis. “We’ve got to use our imagination, concentration, and cooperation.”

Over the last few months, the arts department (often dubbed the Encore Team) has been working together to produce “A Bugz Christmas.” Rousseau leads the production charge by introducing students to the music weeks before auditions and teaching them the songs, while Hall teaches articulation and tone. In the weeks leading up to the production, the theater department hand-crafts costumes and works on stage movement to prepare them for rehearsals in the Marion Performing Arts Center the week of the performance.

“We are very fortunate here that our administrators support the arts in the way they do, allowing us to use the MPAC for rehearsals so our students feel comfortable and are ready for the show,” said Allison.

“Also, we are very thankful for the parent support we have received,” said Hall. “We have been talking to parents about costuming, and they have just hit the ground running to support their students. Overall, we have been very fortunate to have the parent support we do.”

Hall, having been in theater since she was 5 years old, believes that implementing theater at such a young age teaches empathy, confidence, and critical-thinking skills. Students also learn how to be respectful as an audience member.

“While scripts increase reading skills, theater is more about working together and gaining confidence. When that show starts, I can’t help students, since I am sitting behind a soundboard directing. Yet, these students always surprise me and find a way to make it through the show professionally,” said Hall.

The Marion School District is an innovative and growing district committed to helping every student find their unique path to success in school and in life. With more than 150 years of experience serving families in Crittenden County, the district offers a high school, a junior high, and three award-winning magnet schools. For enrollment information, including information on school choice, visit https://www.msd3.org/ or call 870-739-5100.