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students with puppets and books on stage


In a heartwarming display of creativity, collaboration, and community engagement, Newport Harbor High School's Drama II class set out on an adventure to spread joy through the magic of theater. Led by their teacher and theater aficionado, Lissa Slay, this talented group of students brought smiles and laughter to young audiences throughout Newport-Mesa Unified School District elementary schools during their enchanting children's theater performance tour.

With the help of colorful puppets and playwright Craig Holland, Slay and seven students in the Drama II class brought "Birdbrain" to life. 

Birdbrain is the story of Cora, a cockatoo whose human friend is Grandma Aviary. One day, Cora accidentally knocks over a valuable orchid plant. Grandma is so angry with Cora that she calls her a name: Birdbrain. This hurts Cora’s feelings, and she flies to be with her bird friends, who try to cheer her up. When Grandma’s priceless necklace is stolen, Cora becomes a detective to solve the mystery and earn Grandma’s respect. Through a mimicking trick, Cora figures out who took the necklace. Grandma apologizes to Cora and is forever grateful for her clever bird friend.

The delightful comedy captivated audiences from transitional kindergarten to third grade, as the high school students performed at elementary schools throughout Orange County, including Adams, Kaiser, Woodland, and Newport Elementary.

In addition to entertaining young students and providing them a glimpse into the world of theater, high school theater students gifted age-appropriate books to elementary students based on the performance theme, birds. Among the book titles were "Make Way for Ducklings" and "Don’t Let Pigeon Drive the Bus."

Slay says, “I emphasize to my students that they are ambassadors for the arts. It was exciting to see them embrace their roles with enthusiasm and watch them spread joy wherever they went.”

As the curtain falls on this year's children's theater tour, one thing is clear: The magic of theater has the power to uplift and inspire. In a world where stories have the power to shape our lives, Newport Harbor Drama II has proven that sometimes, the greatest stories are the ones we create together.