EASTBROOK — Soldiers, lions, pirates and mice took over Cave Hill School Friday afternoon, but there was no cause for alarm among staff members.
The takeover was in the form of a production of “Androcles and the Lion,” based on the fable by Aesop. It tells the tale of the slave Androcles, who forms an unexpected friendship with a lion after the slave runs away from his miserly masters and how the two of them help each other out of difficult situations.
The play was done under the direction of Children’s Stage Adventures, a New Hampshire-based theatre troupe that travels across the country putting on stage productions with schoolchildren.
The group does its work in a short amount of time. Lead players Morgan Swan and Rob Gray, who co-founded the group and serves as its executive director, arrived at Cave Hill on Monday and spent a total of 16 hours during the week getting ready for two performances on Friday (one during the day and one in the evening).
Principal Brenda Jordan said this is the fourth time Children’s Stage Adventures has come to Cave Hill. She said it is amazing each time to see students who are shy or nervous about performing “get cast in main roles that are way out of their comfort zones — and they have just shined.”
Almost all of the school’s nearly 80 students in kindergarten through grade eight took part in this year’s production. Roles ranged from two Androcles (a younger one and an older one) to the five-member Miser family to 10 field mice and a large chorus made up of younger students.
This version of “Androcles and the Lion” was written by Gray in 2001 specifically for use with the Children’s Stage Adventures troupe. It features songs as it tells the story of how Androcles was first taken into slavery, how he almost meets his doom with the lion after running away, and then how he saves the lion and the lion, in turn, later saves him (the mice help the lion out along the way, too).
Themes of friendship and cooperation are central in the play, as those help the main characters overcome the obstacles in their way, and Jordan said those themes are important ones for elementary-age children.
Bringing the theater troupe to Cave Hill was accomplished with the help of Cave Hill’s Community School Organization as well as a private donation.
Jordan said pulling off a production of this magnitude in such a short time shows that a little school can still pull off big things.
“We may be small,” she said, “but we are mighty.”