At the April 14 season premiere for parents and the public in the auditorium of the Gravesend school, the cast of 18 sang, danced, argued, fought and ultimately came together in their roles as bullies, nerds, gossips and popular kids. The musical, created by Boody students and staff last year and refined this year, touches on such contemporary topics as bullying, cyber-bullying, gossip and peer pressure.
Based on the Dragonslayer myth used in the Council for Unity’s initiation ceremony, the play revolves around a digital dragon that commandeers a high-tech New York school’s computer system and demands more computer power so it can take over the city. The dragon kidnaps the school’s newscaster and a reluctant nerd must rise to the occasion to become the dragon slayer. The play ends with students realizing that they all played a role in creating the “dragon,” which turns out to have been the work of a student who felt mistreated and ignored by her peers.
“The play built a whole lot of confidence in the cast,” said Trey Rollins, who portrayed the Dragonslayer. “Now we know that whenever a problem comes up, all we’ve got to do is ‘slay the dragon.’” Trey is the recipient of the 2010 AUDELCO “Rising Star” Award.
Stanley Chow portrayed a bully in the production and said the play was fun and carried a powerful message. “The message is very important – people have to stick together and work together in life,” he said.
Both Stanley and Trey are eighth graders who will attend LaGuardia High School in Manhattan next year.
In addition to the main performance for the public, the musical was staged for four District 21 elementary schools whose students will attend Boody for middle school.
The musical was created by faculty and students in conjunction with the Council for Unity. CFU Founder Robert J. De Sena calls the musical “a contemporary interpretation of a profound myth.” Last year, the CFU presented the musical with numerous awards. Mr. De Sena said several schools with CFU chapters hope to see the play this year.
The CFU will highlight the anti-bullying campaign led by Principal Dominick A. D’Angelo at I.S. 228 during the council’s Champions for Children Annual Gala May 4 at the Harvard Club.
This year, the Dragonslayer production was co-directed by Cynthia Kostylo, who directs the school’s vocal magnet, and Ronald Micca, a special education teacher at I.S.228. Both have extensive experience on stage in New York City.
Students from the art, vocal, creative writing, dance, band, strings, computer, and digital photography magnets also contributed to the play.
“This remarkable musical demonstrates what can happen when you put talented students in front of great teachers,” said Mr. D’Angelo. “When you’re watching the play, it’s hard to believe that such a professional production is being staged by middle school students." Mr. D’Angelo said the musical is a key part of I.S. 228’s anti-bullying efforts. He said the school will make the script available to other schools that want to use it.