Outside of an entomology conference, you couldn’t find a group of people happier to see several dozen bugs than the packed audience in Mariner Theatre last Thursday afternoon.
Nearly every seat was filled for Paul Banks Elementary School’s performance of “A Bugz Christmas,” a musical acted out by costumed kindergarteners, first- and second-graders. Parents and grandparents stood to wave and call to their wing-clad children as the stage filled with little bugs — who waved happily back, pipe cleaner antennae wobbling.
In the previous minutes, a line of antler-wearing preschoolers had warmed up the crowd with a few Christmas carols chanted exuberantly into microphones the singers had to stretch up to reach.
It took a little while for music teacher and director Tina Moore to herd all the insects on stage, but once they were up, in no time they were regaling the crowd with “the most sensational, inspirational, celebrational, talk o’ the nation’l Christmas infestation of the year.”
The musical, written by John Jacobson and John Higgins, tells of a Christmas crisis: just when the neighborhood insects are getting ready to deck the halls, a group of termites chews through the lights of their Christmas tree.
“Salt without pepper or mac without cheese, a tree without lights is like a dog without fleas!” wailed the distressed wood ticks, dragonflies and bees.
Luckily, a group of friendly fireflies came to the rescue — and the stage lights dimmed as the bugs standing on the bleachers took out tiny lights to wave, a la lighters at a concert. Afterwards, the mournful termites were pardoned as they prepared to head out the door, and the other bugs invited them to join the party.
“No one will be left out. We should always find a way to make room for everyone on this and every day,” advised a glowworm.
The performers closed out the show with “The 12 Bugz of Christmas” and some impressive choreography: swaying, arm-waving, dramatic body-itching in unison.
“We wish you happy holidays and merry Christmas too,” sang out the students. “If you celebrate in other ways, we hope they’re merry too.”
At the end of the performance, Moore thanked families for coming.
“I kind of feel bad for all of you because you don’t have my job, and I love, love, love my job,” she said, before releasing an army of gleeful insects into their parents’ open arms.
Annie Rosenthal can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.