Provided by Prince William County Schools
Haymarket Elementary students gave the gift of music and cheer with their performance of Elf, Jr. this holiday season. Based on the Broadway play and following much of the plot line of the hit film, this junior version was large in scale —an impressive undertaking for an elementary school.
Buddy the Elf
The 70-student cast featured fourth and fifth grader students in lead and supporting roles, with younger students cast as elves. Zachary Peterson is in fifth grade and played the adored character Buddy.
“I am so excited to bring this character to life. Everyone loves Buddy the Elf,” Peterson shared. “It has been a lot of hard work, but it is worth it to make people so happy.”
The students began rehearsals in October for the three showings in mid-December. Artistic Director Anna Collins-Walker started the drama program at Haymarket last year. The idea for the production grew out of her students’ interest in doing something “bigger and more involved” than what they do in class.
“I am so glad that I am in a teaching position where I can combine literacy, performance skills and my own talents to make a positive impact on an entire school,” said Collins-Walker.
“Being in a musical is an amazing way to combine so many skills- vocal inflection, comedic timing, listening skills, stage presence, interacting with others, projecting your voice, singing, dancing, embodying characters, and bringing them to life.”
Fifth-grader Molly Baker has singing aspirations and even released her own CD. She played Jovie in the Elf, Jr. production.
“I love the music in this production and am really excited that we get to share our singing voices with everyone,” remarked Baker. “My character is also totally different than my personality, so it is fun to play someone who is completely opposite of me in real life.”
“This has been a really fun experience for me,” added Harper Buettner, a fifth grader cast as Santa. “I am usually just in sports, but I’ve had a great time trying something new.”
Collins-Walker, or Mrs. CW as the students call her, credits music teacher Rebecca Battiata, the many parent and family volunteers as well as business sponsors for making this production possible. From props to back-stage coordinating, the Haymarket Elementary family stepped up to help.
The three performances of Elf, Jr. drew large crowds and rave reviews. Audience members were asked to bring items for donation to the Haymarket Regional Food Pantry; 400 items were collected and donated to stock the local food pantry.
Collins-Walker plans to make Elf, Jr an annual seasonal performance, and add a springtime show that changes year to year.
“Our school is still new and is still finding its identity as far as traditions go,” Collins-Walker said. “I want play productions to be one of those traditions.”