A unique version of a "Three Billy Goats Gruff" play featuring the usual cast of the three Billy Goats and the evil troll - but also new-to-the-tale characters of Elvis, Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, Santa Claus, three monks and a posse of cops - had first-graders laughing Friday at Bordewich-Bray Elementary School.
Kyle Bell, 10, who plays a cop that arrests the troll at the end of the play, said his fifth-grade class had been doing performances for younger students at the school throughout the week. According to him, fourth-graders laughed least at the play's catchy lines, but first-graders caught right on.
"It just all depends on who's watching," he said.
The play is an adaptation of a folktale about three goats who want to cross a bridge to get to greener pastures on the other side. Under the bridge, lives a mean troll who does not want to let them cross and gives them a hard time.
Teacher Kinkade DeJoseph said he is required to teach a segment at the beginning of the year about getting along.
He presented the idea of turning that lesson into a play, and so along with his students, started work on a modified-version of the "Three Billy Goats Gruff" in which all the characters, except the troll, realize the value in working together to solve problems.
Kyle, the police officer, said he uses that skill when he sees people picking on others.
"You should never fight wherever you go," he said. "You don't want to fight with people. It just makes problems worse."
The troll, played by Nicole Thayer, actually gets into a fist fight with Santa Claus toward the end of the play. She won't listen to Santa, who has come to encourage her to get along, and is knocked off the bridge.
She is later arrested for jumping from the bridge. Officers point to a "no jumping" sign posted nearby.
"I was framed," she cries.
Nicole's parents, Carl and Shari, who came to see her, have been watching the 27 fifth-graders practice throughout the week.
"It's a fantastic play," Shari said. "They've worked really hard to do a good job. The teacher, he's a big part of their enthusiasm."
Most of the students had roles and responsibilities - one was in charge of the accompanying music, another was a narrator, three were Greek-like members of a chorus full of commentary, and two even played grass - eaten and tromped on one side of the bridge and fresh and green on the other.
"I think the performance (before the first-graders) went really well," said narrator, Megan Streeter, 10. "We're trying to get students to use the peace path and make good decisions."
DeJoseph and his class spent the past week building props, picking out music, working on lines, finding costumes, fine-tuning delivery and working together - something that takes constant effort.
Two of DeJoseph's students were arguing before Friday's first-grade performance. "I told them, 'Go walk the peace path," DeJoseph said.
n Contact reporter Maggie O'Neill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1219.