Pinewood students win drama recognition

Courtesy of iTheatrics
Pinewood students perform “Do You Love Me?” from “Fiddler on the Roof JR.”

Pinewood School’s Drama Club received recognition at the 2017 iTheatrics Junior Theater Festival in Sacramento last month.

Kaanchana Parameswaran won the Freddie G Excellent Individual Performance by a Female award; Julian Gold was named to the Tech Theater All-Stars, a select group that worked side-by-side with seasoned professionals and served on the technical crew for the awards ceremony; and Michael Shtrom and Maryjane Osborne were named to the Junior Theater Festival All-Stars, which performed a song during the closing ceremony for the 1,500 festival attendees.

Festival organizers invited Pinewood’s 20 Drama Club members – students in grades 1-5 – to perform “Do You Love Me?” from “Fiddler on the Roof JR” for a retrospective of favorite songs from the Broadway Junior Collection.

Club members also presented selections from “Disney’s The Little Mermaid JR” for Rob Rokicki, composer, music director and performer; Derek Bowley, music director; and Shay Rodgers, manager of education and choreographer for Theatre Under the Stars in Houston.

“These students worked beautifully as an ensemble,” Bowley said. “Each role was double-cast, and both performers played their roles with skill. The support they gave each other throughout the performance was inspiring.”

Rodgers said she was impressed with the Pinewood performers.

“What a fun show,” she said. “Despite being a cast of younger students, Pinewood School delivered such great character work throughout their performance.”

Rokicki agreed.

“Pinewood School’s Drama Club’s presentation was so much fun,” he said. “The enthusiasm of the cast was infectious. There was great variety in the double casting.”

In addition to Kaanchana, Julian, Michael and Maryjane, Drama Club members who traveled to the iTheatrics Junior Theater Festival included Annabelle Eaton, Dominic Ferrari, Abigail Kamenetsky, Julian Kleinknecht, Nicole Kleinknecht, Anna Kokorich, Rhea Pandya, Lauren Post, Ashton Riches, Micaela Rodriguez-Steube, Sasha Sheiba, Ethan Stangenes, Justin Stangenes, Florencia Rodriguez-Steube, Zoe Sun and Nika Zoufan.

Pinewood and the arts

The arts hold a special place at Pinewood, as the school’s founder, Gwen Riches, started Pinewood as an after-school arts program. As her students learned to see their world from new angles – by performing, singing and dancing onstage, as well as by painting, drawing and sculpting – their performance improved in all areas of their education.

Today, Pinewood students from kindergarten through 12th grade study drama, perform in plays and musicals, and learn a variety of visual-arts techniques. According to school officials, the results speak volumes: Students express themselves confidently, respectfully and vividly not only with their peers, but also with adults. This ability gives them a huge advantage when they enter college – and for the rest of their lives.

The first objective of Pinewood’s theater experience is to teach communication skills, which school officials believe instills self-confidence and self-esteem in young people as they present themselves well in front of an audience and receive deserved praise. Every student in kindergarten through eighth grade participates in an annual class play.

The second objective of the theater program is to provide a venue for some students to excel outside of the academic or athletic arena. The goal, school officials said, is that every student has a place in which to feel a sense of accomplishment and success.

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