actor's studio visits elementary schools

classic storybooks performed live

The students crack up when Frog and Toad can't stop eating cookies.
They are silent when Sylvester turns into a rock and can't get back to his parents.
They get it when Ira can't decide whether to bring his teddy bear on his first sleepover.
They grin and giggle watching the little mouse slip by predators by telling them about the Gruffalo.

Done with the simplest of props—a teddy bear, donkey ears, and table and chairs—seniors from Jay High School’s Actor’s Studio held the attention of the entire student body of Katonah Elementary School with their performance of four classic storybooks. The show visits all Katonah-Lewisboro elementary schools’ during their celebration of PARP.

“It’s an elementary favorite,” said Colleen Cerami-Segal, president of KLSD Arts Alive

Acting teacher Bill Friedman—who once made a living doing children’s theater—asks seniors enrolled in the Actor’s Studio to think about the books they liked in elementary school and pick one to turn into a play. The students have approximately six weeks to write the dramatizations and practice lines, in preparation for taking the show on the road come March.

This year’s seniors Ariel Barniv, Nathaniel Greenspan, Alison Lustig, Jessica Martin and August Novak selected Frog and Toad’s “Cookies,” by Arnold Lobel; “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble,” by William Steig; “Ira Sleeps Over,” by Bernard Waber; and “The Gruffalo,” by Julia Donaldson.

“My students were so excited for this,” said Sheryl Carini, kindergarten teacher and co-director of PARP at KES with Librarian Jeanne Hand. “The younger grades know all of these books. We’ve read them in class or watched a video version together.”

Time for Q&A

After the performance, Friedman opened the floor for questions. The first one: “What’s your favorite food? “Cookies, of course,” answered Alison and Jessica, who played Frog and Toad in the story about willpower.

“What was your favorite character?” asked another student. “Mr. Duncan,” answered August, referring to the father in “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble.” “There’s a certain depth to his character.”

“Why do you like to act?” was the final question. “It’s very fun to put yourself in different situations,” said Nate, who had just played a donkey, a rock, a small child and a Gruffalo.

Celebrating its 10th year!