“I have a warning: prepare for all the jokes.”
That’s Stanley Switlik fifth grader Emmitt Johnson’s messages to audiences who plan to attend “Goodnight Princess, Sleepless in Fairytale Lane,” the school’s first theatrical production since 2019.
Featuring a cast of 24 fifth graders, along with six stage hands, the show, as one might guess, centers around a princess (Ariella Dworniczak) who just simply can’t seem to get to sleep. Audience members are treated to the best efforts of her chamberlain (played by Daelani Holmes) and other fairytale creatures trying their best to provide tips for her insomnia.
In a departure from tradition, director Michele Licause elected to give her fifth grade students their own time to shine, as opposed to including third and fourth graders in the production.
“We decided to just work with the fifth grade class because they got the short end of the stick,” said Licause. “They were cut out of ‘Willy Wonka’ when it was canceled two years ago because of COVID.” Due to the pandemic, this will be the first and only opportunity for the entire cast to appear on the Switlik stage.
Licause heavily credited both the efforts of the students and other teachers involved in the production. “They’re a great group to work with; they’re very hard working, really motivated, and excited to be on stage. And all of us have worn a lot of hats. Producing, painting, it takes a village.” In addition to Licause, Bailey Francisco and Deb LaFountain serve as co-directors, with Amelia Buchanan as an assistant director and Shannon Wiley handling set design.
By their own estimation, the cast is just about ready to go, and described their experience with their directors as “awesome,” “amazing” and “the best.” They also show a keen awareness of their stage hands’ efforts behind the scenes, including stage manager Levi Davis. “(Levi) controls everything,” said Johnson. “Without them, we wouldn’t be able to give a good performance.”
Davis himself seems to enjoy working behind the scenes. “The best part is I don’t get seen,” he said. “And if somebody annoys me, I can just mute their mic.”
“Goodnight Princess” will have one public performance on Thursday, Nov. 18 at 6 p.m. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased here.