This spring, Germantown Friends School and HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy celebrate the 30th anniversary of their annual musical theater collaboration, known as the Something Magical project. To celebrate this momentous occasion, the two schools are reprising the first show they ever performed together, The Other Side of the Fence.
The collaboration began when fourth grade teacher Teresa Maebori reached out to Phyllis Dupuis, a former GFS parent and founder of HMS’s recreation program, in response to a problem with her students’ discomfort towards children who were different. The two set up a visit to HMS for the GFS students, but the trip did not go as expected: The GFS kids were uncomfortable at HMS, seeing no common ground among the students.
Out of this encounter grew the the idea to produce a musical, in which each GFS student would pair up with an HMS student. The first show, On the Other Side of the Fence, cast the children as farm animals separated by a fence.
HMS music therapist Andrea Green composed the script and score (and each one since!) with keen attention to the abilities of the HMS students. The parts were cast to enable each HMS student to fully participate with the support of his or her GFS partner.
Since that first show, hundreds of GFS students have participated in the HMS musicals, and created lasting memories. Theatrical composer and lyricist Michael Friedman ’93 counts “performing ‘I Dig That Pig’ in Teresa Maebori’s class with the HMS students in The Other Side of the Fence” as one of his most memorable GFS musical experiences.
There are two opportunities to see this year’s show: On Saturday, April 28, at 2 p.m. in the Loeb Performing Arts Center, and on Tuesday, May 1, at 10:30 a.m., also in the Loeb. Come share in the excitement of reaching this amazing 30-year milestone—and congratulate Teresa Maebori, who's retiring at the end of the school year, on this incredible accomplishment.
Click here to read the Inquirer article about the GFS-HMS collaboration.