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Queens Chronicle

PS 31 kids want to make you part of their world

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Posted: Thursday, June 12, 2014 10:30 am

Walking through the doors of PS 31, one might expect to see the typical goings-on of any public elementary school: young children being hurried to and fro by their teachers, administrators keeping an eye on the hallways and classrooms filling up with eager students.

True, PS 31 is a typical school, but walk through the lobby and past the double doors into the auditorium and it is clear that the Bayside School — as it is commonly referred to — is special.

Music teacher Will Coppola and first-year art teacher Ashley Ciccotelli took on the challenge of putting on “The Little Mermaid” using students ranging in age.

“It takes a lot of patience because they are 9- and 10-year-olds,” Ciccotelli said. “Sometimes we forget when we see them on stage and then later in the day we’ll see them with their classmates and realize, ‘Oh right, they are just kids.’”

Even so, both teachers did a stupendous job in bringing more than a dozen actors, singers, dancers and crew members together to put on a breathtaking show.

It is fun, silly and beautiful, everything a Disney show should be.

Little Grace Wansor, a fifth-grader who will be attending MS 158 next year, takes the lead role of the precocious teenager Ariel, who dreams of nothing more than to live on land.

“At first it was scary being on stage but then you get used to it,” Grace said, who prepared for her role by listening to the songs and watching the 1989 Disney film multiple times.

Though there can only be a few leading stars, it is clear that every student feels appreciated; no doubt the work of director Coppola and producer Ciccotelli.

“We want them all to know what it feels like to bring a little something into a much bigger production,” Coppola said. “They were each responsible for little things for their costumes or characters.”

Ashley Norbert as Sebastian and Emilia Salazar as Ursula are quite the hams on stage, something that serves both of their characters well.

The shifting set and beautiful lighting — another brave feat for a show at an elementary school — suited the show perfectly, and the performers’ peers were impressed by the costumes and colors in the “Under the Sea” number.

The show will run on June 12 and 14 at 7 p.m. at PS 31, located at 211-45 46 Road in Bayside. Tickets are $5.

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