From Stage to Screen: The Little Red Hen

Posted on Thursday, May 7th, 2020

A red barn surrounded by blue sky and green grass appears. Music is playing in the background. Then, one by one, faces begin to fill the screen with song. 

This is the beginning of the online musical “The Little Red Hen,” performed by Yellow Cluster students in Music Teacher Michael Piedmont’s class.

The roughly eight-minute show features whimsical costumes, heartfelt singing, and the story of the Little Red Hen, all put together for their younger EC and Pink Cluster peers. 

Mr. Piedmont said they began to work on a musical fairytale for EC and Pink Cluster students in January as a way to tie into the Pink Cluster’s fairytale unit. 

The Yellow Cluster students from Head Teacher Jensen Pincus and Assistant Teacher Miriam Filer’s class learned what it meant to perform for younger audiences. 

The students auditioned for roles, and some opted to work primarily behind the scenes, creating things such as programs and tickets.

By March, they had learned all of the music and narration. They were beginning to stage scenes when Gaynor made the move to distance learning. 

Given that music classes were asynchronous and not live lessons, I figured the show was canceled but took the materials home just in case,” Mr. Piedmont said.

He said the classroom teachers reached out and asked him if there was any way to have the show go on. 

After thinking it over, Mr. Piedmont came up with the solution to make a narrative film of the live musical.

The students who were going to make tickets and programs were reassigned to make scenic pieces and props for the film. 

The actors rehearsed their scripts, music, and parts via a Google Slides presentation that had the music attached. They were then each given a half hour recording session and guidelines for making costumes at home.

“It was exciting working with the students in their homes and helping them re-imagine staging and sorting through ideas to find the best angles and lighting to film in,” Mr. Piedmont said. “I was so proud of the devotion and dedication that the students showed during the transition process from a live musical to a virtual one.”

Once all of the parts were finished and all the materials were filmed, the musical was edited and put together. 

Mr. Piedmont said generally at the end of most live performances, students experience a lot of raw emotions, because they know they won’t be getting together to practice with each other every day. 

He said he was surprised to find that even though the musical was completed virtually, several of the students had similar feelings at the premiere party of the musical, expressing that they were sad it was over and that they wouldn’t see each other anymore.

“I think this last concept is what made this project so important,” Mr. Piedmont said. “Of course, the students in 403 learned that in such challenging times, it was still important for them to give of themselves to enrich the lives of Pink and EC students. However, I think it was also important for them to feel, through the performing arts, that they were coming together and connecting virtually in ways that were deeper than they expected could be done on a computer.”