EB’s Musical Theater Enrichment Class presented their second production of the year, Mille et Une Nuits, known in English as 1001 Nights or Arabian Nights. On June 10th and June 11th, forty-one third, fourth and fifth graders made up the ensemble cast as they presented tales such as Scheherazade, Sinbad the Sailor, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, and Aladdin and the Magic Lamp.
The tales of 1001 Nights have scintillated imaginations for many centuries. The stories that Scheherazade told came from various origins in the Middle East, and were first published in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age. In 1704, Frenchman Antoine Galland published a version in French which included additional stories. Directors, Maggie Schoon and Anne Kuhry, wrote EB’s adaptation to create roles for all the interested students and customize a kid-friendly version.
The seventeen songs came from a variety of sources, including the musical Shéhérazade: Les Milles et Une Nuits of 2009, Les Milles et Une Nuits d’Ali Baba of 2000, Disney’s Aladdin of 1992, popular music and Les Enfantastiques. The cast was especially proud to present the song “Le Paradis Enfin,” written by current G5 students two years ago, during the visit of composer Jean No at EB.
Building Empathy and Civic Engagement
“Doing musical theater is one of my best moments from EB”, said 5th grader and musical participant Yasmin. “I love doing it because it allows me to pursue my passions of singing, dancing and acting. I also really enjoyed making new friends especially friends from other grades.”
Research shows that the arts are a vital component of a child’s education which not only open their hearts to the human experience but also build skills such as empathy and civic engagement. In addition, research in schools demonstrates that engaging children in the arts positively impacts their academic, social and emotional outcomes. “Lucas has learned so much about the value of hard work through this show. It is such a great opportunity for him to learn the challenge and the value of working with a large team to pull off a complex production”, said Brian Turner, father of one of the actors in the performance.
The students honed their acting, dancing and singing skills but also learned important lessons about building community and supporting others. Some G5 and middle school students also tried their hand at stage managing and theater tech. The production was done entirely in French which allowed students to improve their language skills.
Mille et Une Nuits had themes such as courage, justice, love and freedom for all. Audience members came away reflecting on those themes, entertained by the wonderful musical numbers and in awe of the dedication of the students involved. A magical carpet ride!