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New Canaan Country School Middle School Students Stage 'Into The Books'

From left, Bridget Keogh, Lila-ViVi Fagel
From left, Bridget Keogh, Lila-ViVi Fagel Photo Credit: Contributed
The cast of “Into the Books”
The cast of “Into the Books” Photo Credit: Contributed

NEW CANAAN, Conn. -- New Canaan Country School Middle School drama students became their favorite childhood storybook characters — Harold, Wild Thing, Petey Bunny, the Cap Peddler — for their Winter Musical production. Inspired loosely by the musical “Into the Woods,” the original production was conceived, written and performed entirely by students.

For 10 weeks, 18 fifth- and sixth- graders worked feverishly to write and stage the play. They wrote lyrics to songs, choreographed dance numbers and made props. “In addition to crafting a story, the students had to learn how to work together in a productive and enjoyable way,” said faculty adviser Kathy Kravec. “They put all the mission skills into practice— teamwork, curiosity, creativity, resilience, ethics and time management.”

When the students couldn’t agree on a plot twist, they voted. “At first, everyone wanted to know the idea of the story right away,” said fifth- grader Lexi McCall who played Maxi from “Where the Wild Things Are.” “We had to understand that it was going to take time, a script just doesn’t magically appear overnight.”

The group dismissed popular stories like “Harry Potter” and “Inside Out” from being a part of their play because they wanted young students to recognize their favorite books.

“We were thinking about the audience all the time,” said Benjamin Herdeg who played the boy in “The Giving Tree. “We also made sure not to give away the story endings, just in case a child hadn’t read them yet.” For sixth grader Maggie Ruvinsky, who played the librarian, putting together the play was about self-discovery, as much as it was teamwork. “I learned that I was more outgoing than I thought I was,” said Maggie.

Lexi was new to Country School this year and the play allowed her to bond with other drama students. “I was nervous to walk into a room where I didn’t really know anyone. By the end of the show I felt like we were all a family. I felt so supported.”

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