Three different third-grade classes at Connetquot Elementary recently shared their knowledge of Japanese culture, performing an original musical play entitled “The Funny Little Woman” (“Okashi To Chisai Onna No Hito”).
Sung in Japanese and populated by characters derived from traditional Japanese folklore, the play was written and directed by Connetquot music teacher Eileen Egbert, who adapted the story from Arlene Mostel’s book of the same name.
“I wrote it in order to incorporate literature into the music curriculum,” explained Egbert, who noted that the play was last performed at Connetquot about eight years ago.
A multilingual opening song welcomed listeners in not only Japanese but Italian, Turkish, Arabic, Spanish, Greek and even American Sign Language. Other songs performed, all sung in Japanese and played on recorders, were “Sakura” (“Cherry Blossoms,” known as the unofficial Japanese national anthem), “Jan, Ken, Pon” (the Japanese version of “Rock, Paper, Scissors”) and a translated “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain.”
The beautifully costumed cast from Maria Marinelli's and Carolyn Biscardi's classes included Jillian Bradley as the Funny Little Woman and Dylan Betances, Lucas Brass, Burcu Camlica, Steven Capobianco, April Ferrandino, Dimitri Makarow, Sarah Manweiler and Jonathan Stanzione as Supi-ka (narrators) who told the story. Akemi Amado, Matthew Aparicio, Adriana Carreras, Larry Panico and Joe Rasso channeled their inner ogres as Wicked Onis (Japanese trolls), while David Dryer, Margaret Kiel and Kody Tedone portrayed a trio of Jizo-samas, ancient Japanese roadside statues that act as protectors of travelers. Students from Wendy Frees and Danielle Eskedal’s classes also performed in separate performances of “The Funny Little Woman.”
Connetquot’s theatrical schedule will continue with a first-grade musical production of Jan Brett’s “The Mitten” and a second-grade performance of “The Elephant’s Child” from Rudyard Kipling’s “Just So Stories for Little Children.”