School Play: 3 of 5 stars

Sentinel Staff Writer

They’re stressing about learning the lines to The Wizard of Oz, mastering their dance moves, about hitting those high notes at the end of “Over the Rainbow.” And in School Play, they’re turning 10 years old as they do.

This engaging but unsurprising little slice of Philly elementary school life follows a Wizard with a stutter, a rotund social outcast who doesn’t like being forced into the limelight, a class cut-up who is a natural comedian and a diva-in-training Dorothy through casting, rehearsals and opening night of the big school play.

We watch Jeffrey, who has no confidence, weep during auditions, and then see his dad ignore him as they’re supposed to be working together building the sets. We notice that Nick likes to wear girl’s clothes -- at 10. Joey clowns around, but when you can make your no-nonsense parents crack up, you have a gift -- even if you do ruin rehearsal.

School Play’s three directors catch the kids at home and follow them around school, trying to find laughs in, say, “puberty” (health) class. They succeed often enough, but they also show the play changing the kids, most of them for the better. Show this one to every school board thinking of eliminating drama.


Screening at: 12:15 p.m. Saturday, April 4, Regal.