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Mountain Avenue students show the West was fun

June 18, 2004|By Rebecca Mohan

Special to the Valley Sun

Daniel Boone needed a bath. Thomas Jefferson was only interested in the Louisiana Purchase if the French threw in some truffles. And the Golden Spike turned out to be a yellow bowling ball.

When you put the Western frontier in the hands of a bunch of fourth-graders, the theme turns out to be how the West was fun.

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For Margo Ewing's class at Mountain Avenue School in La Crescenta, preparing and performing the play "The Incredible Western Movement" last week was a chance to have a little fun with history while learning a bit, too.

The musical, written by Ron Fink and John Heath, follows three "delivery girls" as they try to give packages to the addressees. But nearly everyone is headed West. They finally catch up with Daniel Boone, only to find that his frontier work has left him quite ripe.

"You really ought to take a bath!" they cry out to him.

"I did," deadpans Boone, who is wearing a coonskin cap named Betsy. "About three months ago."

Even James Monroe is unavailable, his butler explains. He's giving a musical pitch to Thomas Jefferson on the Louisiana Purchase.

"Let's go to France and do some shopping. Let's go to France and eat some snails. When the escargot are escargone, let's buy the Rockies and beyond."

In a more somber moment, the delivery girls run across the Cherokee on their forced march West. "One thousand miles in ragged files. We've been marched to far frontiers. There's no rest. We're on the Trail of Tears."

The students, with some help from parent volunteers, decorated their own sets, complete with a "prairie schooner." They gave two morning performances for the school's other classes.

"This play fits well with our curriculum," said teacher Ewing, adding that the students had studied the Oregon Trail, Sacagawea and other aspects of the West. "I think they learned it in a different way."

And they learned about performing.

"It was really fun," said Sarah Rademacher, who played one of the delivery girls. "It was my first play and it was fun to be in front of everyone in the school."

Even if Daniel Boone needed a bath.

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