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A review for everyone

Fifth-graders prepare for annual play

School theater oftentimes has an inherent drawback: There is all too often too few parts and too many interested players.

At Slingerlands Elementary School, that truism is placed by the wayside every spring, when the entire fifth grade class takes to the stage for a musical performance.

It's a tradition 41 years running, and this year is no different. This year's class is 71 students strong, with four students playing the role of equipment crew, leaving a cast of 67 to perform The 1890 Music Hall Review this Thursday and Friday.

Though casting, costuming and rehearsing this number of students is a challenge, director and Slingerlands music teacher Sarah Platek makes it a point to ensure all are included.

"Everyone has a line, everyone dances, everyone sings," she said. "I think that's important at this stage, to give them a taste of musical theater."

The experience prepares students well for the opportunities they'll have during the rest of their education at Bethlehem Central, Platek continued.

"It's nice to go to the middle school and high school [productions] and see all the Slingerlands alumni," she said. This is Platek's 10th year directing the annual play.

Students are split up into groups so they only have to rehearse after school once a week or so. As showtime approaches, however, they're getting together for dress rehearsals.

"The 1890 Music Hall Review" runs about 45 minutes and, as the name implies, focuses on the events of the 19th century's final decade in song and dance. There are musical numbers about the introduction of the Kodak camera, the invention of the bicycle and women's suffrage, for example.

The play has been performed as one of the yearly fifth grade plays before, but it's unlikely too many recall that 1983 production. Students performed "The Princess and the Pea" last year.

"The 1890 Music Hall Review" shows on Thursday, April 7, and Friday, April 8, at Slingerlands Elementary. Tickets are $3 at the door and $2 in advance. They can be purchased ahead of time at the school.""

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