Creekside plans for a wild production

Published 11:13 pm Friday, December 16, 2011

Alyssa Mitchell, right, Elizabeth Culbert and Kayla Morris, all third-graders at Creekside Elementary School, dance to the music during a dress rehearsal for their school's production of "The Jungle Book." The students will have the official performance on Tuesday at the school.

Next week, Creekside Elementary School will be overrun with bears, panthers, tigers, monkeys and one massive boa constrictor.

The school has also transformed into an overgrown, lush jungle, filled with vines and large leaves, to prepare for Creekside’s annual musical.

On Tuesday, the community is invited to attend the school’s production of “The Jungle Book” at 6 p.m.


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More than 100 students have been working since October to make sure they have their lines down and know every word to each of the songs.

“I think it’s going to be really good,” fourth-grader Taelyr Folsom said. “It’s really fun. We get to do dance moves and sing a lot.”

Folsom, along with fifth-grader Felicia Josey, is playing Bagheera, the panther that watches over Mowgli, in the story.

Creekside music teacher Jamel Gibson, who is directing the play, said he wants to be able to give the students the chance to be stars for the night.

“I want them to have this experience and never forget it,” he said. “I want to expose them to as much music as I can.”

This is the second year Creekside has put on a Broadway performance. Last year, the students performed “Annie.”

Gibson said he decided to do “The Jungle Book” this year to attract more boys to the experience.

“When we did ‘Annie,’ it was very girl-heavy,” he said. “With the animals, they can be girls or boys.”

Gibson said even though the performers are elementary school students, he aims to have a high-quality production.

“I want it to be to the point that if they were told to perform off-Broadway, they’d be ready,” he said.

However, the performance has no funding, so the crew had to get creative.

As a result, parent-volunteers Liane Folsom and Janette Workman have been working on costumes for the production for months.

Folsom said she spent a lot of time on the Internet trying to find unique and affordable ways to make animal costumes.

“We took a lot of ideas from the Internet and made them our own,” Workman said.

The bears, tigers and panthers might look ferocious, but their costumes were put together using faux fur, poster board and bike helmets.

And the massive elephants that parade across the stage are held together with hula-hoops and PVC pipes.

“Making the skeletons for the elephants was the most fun, but making the heads was really difficult,” Folsom said.

She said it’s been a lot of work, but she got involved because she thinks it’s a great opportunity for the students.

“I just like to see the kids smile,” Folsom said. “If they get into the arts and do well, they’ll gain confidence.”

On Tuesday, the 110 students who are performing in “The Jungle Book” will get to walk the red carpet into their debut in the school’s cafetorium.

Tickets for the performance are $2. Some of the funds will be used to reimburse the parents for costume supplies, and the rest will be put into funding the music program at Creekside.

Gibson said he hopes the performance builds up the students’ self esteem.

“I want it to be good for them, not for me,” he said.