Connetquot Elementary School was overrun by pasta gone wild on May 31 when students from Danielle Eskedal’s class starred in the Italian-themed musical “Strega Nona.” Adding to the musical revelry were the talents of kindergartners from Elizabeth McInerney’s class.
“Strega Nona,” adapted by Connetquot music teacher Eileen Egbert from the 1975 children’s book by Tomie dePaola, tells the story of a grandmother witch with a magic pasta pot. The pot makes pasta when Strega Nona sings to it (dramatized by a kindergarten student inside the stage pot, throwing pool noodles into the audience), and humorous troubles ensue when her helper Big Anthony, who sleeps in the goat shed, tries to use the magic pasta pot while Strega Nona’s not around.
Eskedal’s students studied Italy as part of their social studies curriculum, and experienced the true flavor of that country through their performance of this classic folk tale. The children learned not only about Italian geography and culture but how to dance the tarantella (including lifting a seated “grandpa” in the center of the circle). They sang two songs in Italian (“Farfalina” and “Ma Bella Bimba”) and smiled their way through “On Top of Spaghetti.”
An unexpected animal appearance stole the show. “To add to the fun, one of the third-grade parents, Mrs. Barra, loaned us her goat named Star – yes, a real live goat – to take the stage,” remarked Egbert. “Star was led onstage by Mrs. Eskedal, who announced, ‘Big Anthony, I cleaned out the goat shed for you!’ as I played ‘The Lonely Goatherd’ from ‘The Sound of Music.’”