The Grunch and the Gnarble are hitting the stage in Elmira next week, with the students of St. Jacobs’ Arts Abound premiering two musicals
Arts Abound students have two musical shows in the works: The Journey of the Noble Gnarble and The Grunch.
Shelley Martin, founder of Arts Abound and the director of both shows, says the productions are coming along nicely for opening nights next week.
The curtain goes up on The Journey of the Noble Gnarble on May 16 for the junior performers, and senior performers will take the stage on May 17 for The Grunch.
The Journey of the Noble Gnarble tells the story of a gnarble, a fish that wants to see the top of the ocean, but the odds are against her. Her friends and fellow gnarbles don’t think she can do it, and on her way to the surface, she faces obstacles and discouragement. Despite all of that, she makes it.
“It is a really nice story about perseverance and determination, showing that if you keep going, that you can meet your goals,” said Martin. “All of her friends and the other fish that live at the bottom of the sea laugh at her and say that she can’t do it, so she ignores them and heads off on her journey.”
In The Grunch, a grumpy Grade 6 student named Rudy Grunch goes to Whoover Middle School, and she hates theatre and musicals. She conspires to steal the musical piece by piece, and after all that, Rudy has a change of heart.
“She plays chess and can’t understand why the rest of the world doesn’t value that the same way that she does. She is sick of the drama club taking over the school and getting all the appreciation,” explained Martin. “By trying to learn the ins and outs to destroy it, learns that she quite enjoys it. It is a musical within a musical.”
Martin says the two musicals are great for everyone of all ages, but especially kids.
“What I really love about both of these musicals is that they have storylines, plots and morals that kids can relate to. Instead of it being your typical love story that a lot of musicals do follow, it has themes of friendship and community and determination,” she said.
The Arts Abound groups have been invited to use the Elmira Theatre Company stage for this year’s productions, giving the actors in The Journey of the Noble Gnarble and The Grunch a real theatre experience.
“It is a great opportunity for them to have that professional experience. We try to make it as realistic as possible for them,” said Martin.
The kids in the show don’t just act and sing. Martin says they are involved in every aspect of putting the shows together.
“They have all worked incredibly hard. We started the program in September, both groups come once a week, we work on the music, the dancing, their lines, and they have helped with all the props and sets. They help with all of that,” she shared.
Martin wants to see the community come out for either or both of the shows, but there are fewer than 50 tickets left for each performance.
“These performances are a really amazing opportunity to get a glimpse into the lives and creativity of these performers,” she said.“They really put a lot of themselves into these performances. Through all of their hard work, they have each made their characters their own. In addition to being able to support these young performers, it is a unique experience to be able to see what they have accomplished and what they have put into these characters and the ownership and the pride there.”
Along with evening performances for the public, Arts Abound will be performing for schools around the area throughout the week.
The Journey of the Noble Gnarble is on May 16, with performances of The Grunch on May 17 and 18. The shows go on at the Elmira Theatre Company facility on Howard Avenue at 7 p.m., with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door.