“Stand up to bullies! Don’t let them tell you what to do.” That’s the wisdom that Bannon Beaty, 10, has gained from his participation in a production of “The Rainbow Sea,” a musical that will be performed by 32 enthusiastic youngsters of the St. John School of the Arts Summer Camp. The sole scheduled performance will take place at 6 p.m., on Friday, July 26. Admission is $10 for adults and is free for children 12 and under.
The show, which was written by Andrea Green, a composer, playwright and educator, was created in 1992, but its message of inclusivity is as relevant today as ever, according to Kim Wild, executive director of the School of the Arts.
This is the fifth summer that Green’s original productions have served as the basis of the school’s three-week summer camp. “The Rainbow Sea” was first performed at the St. John School of the Arts in 2015, but this year’s production has something extra: nine-year-old Elena Magnie wrote the song “But Now” about her reaction to Hurricane Irma in 2017, which has been added to the show.
“We have so many amazing children here, especially young ones,” said co-director Renee Chambers Liciaga. “When I asked them about their experiences during the storm, they said, ‘I was afraid,’ ‘I couldn’t find my cat,’ ‘My mom and dad were scared.”
Chambers Liciaga said their openness makes her feel grateful to be a dance educator, and their words have been incorporated into Magnie’s song. “All kids are the same; they have hearts; they want to be heard; they want to be loved.”
The show gives youngsters guidance on how to live in a challenging world. One of its big numbers, “Get Outta Your Shell,” is simple, melodic and catchy, said Green. “It encourages kids to ‘test the waters’ and try something new. Some of the kids were brought to the school for this production because their parents wanted them to be here, and they struggled initially because they’d never done anything like this.”
Now, Green says, they’re doing well. Musical theater teaches children the power of teamwork, the pride of performance, the importance of speaking up when it’s your turn and listening at other times. “It teaches us that we all have parts to play, we’re all important.”
The camp, which runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday to Friday, is affordable to all children thanks to grants from the ASCAP Foundation and the Virgin Islands Lottery. Parents and volunteers are supplying the props and costumes.
This year the production has an additional co-director, Sage Buchalter, who was born and raised on St. John but is now working as a singer and actor in New York.
Buchalter will also be performing in a solo concert at the School of the Arts at 6 p.m., Sunday, July 28. Tickets are $10.
This is the last activity at the St. John School of the Arts until the annual Meet and Greet, which is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 7. Parents and children will be able to learn about the upcoming classes for the 2019-20 year, register for the classes they like, apply for financial aid, and order shoes and dancewear.
For further information, contact the St. John School of the Arts at 779-4322.