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DePaul students direct performance at Bernhard Moos Elementary School

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DePaul freshmen Reid Annin and Tori Hanes lead a rehearsal for “My Home is the Lincoln Park Zoo” at Bernard Moos Elementary School. (Photo courtesy of SPRINGBOARD THEATER COMPANY)

DePaul freshmen Reid Annin and Tori Hanes lead a rehearsal for “My Home is the Lincoln Park Zoo” at Bernhard Moos Elementary School. (Photo courtesy of SPRINGBOARD THEATER COMPANY)

Six DePaul students are directing a children’s theater performance at Bernhard Moos Elementary School in Humboldt Park, to be performed for the families in early June.

Freshmen Reid Annin, Tori Hanes and Connor Hirsch, and sophomores Peter Bucci, RT Hardiman and Ella Lubienski are volunteering through Springboard Theater Company to direct “My Home is the Lincoln Park Zoo,” written by Bucci, Hanes and Hardiman. The partnership is part of an effort to bring theater to the students at Moos Elementary.

“We wanted to do more work with the community and around Chicago, and many of us have experience working with children,” Lubienski said. “So we wanted to reach out and find new energy.”

The free show premieres to the families of Moos Elementary on June 11, and follows the tale of an elephant who realizes she is different when her tusks start growing. Her zookeeper Jack wants to show her that it’s okay, and he shows her by going through all the animal groups and their special qualities.

Bucci met with Paul Zionts, the dean of DePaul’s College of Education, who suggested Moos Elementary as a site. The school was in need of outlet for theater and had been looking to build up its arts program, according to Bucci.

“We had the idea to work with another group who’s in need,” Bucci said. “Both of us can grow as a group — the arts program at Moos and Springboard.”

The play is funded by donations, and all money raised from the production goes towards the school.

The directors want to bring the spirit of Vincentian Service Day and present the art of theater as not just a way of viewing entertainment, but also an outlet to help a community. They said they are working to incorporate  Vincentian values of bettering a community through the question of what can be done.

“You don’t just have to do service through service groups or service days,” Bucci said. “Theater can be a service.”

The musical casts 60 elementary school students as different animals, including frogs, lions, seals and monkeys, and live music will accompany the show.

“The kids are working very hard and I think that the show will be a culmination of all their hard work,” Annin said.

Moos Elementary School is already talking about working with the directors and Springboard again, but with the middle school students next time.

“They’ve been looking to build up their arts program for some time now, but just haven’t been able to,” Bucci said. “But this show is a great way for the kids to get their feet wet with theater.”

“My Home is the Lincoln Park Zoo” will be presented at Bernhard Moos Elementary School on California Avenue on June 11, with a special showing for just the students at Moos on June 10. Those willing to donate to the school’s program can find a link on Springboard Theater’s Facebook page.

Meanwhile, Springboard is partnering with DePaul Theatre Union and Open Theater Group to perform Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” The partially practiced production is having only three rehearsals before the show.

The performance will be free on DePaul’s Quad on Thursday, May 19 at 7 p.m. Audience members can buy cups of marshmallows for one dollar to throw at the actors when they mess up.

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DePaul students direct performance at Bernhard Moos Elementary School