by: REVIEW PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE - Brightening up the stage with Hope Grows were Lake Grove Elementary School student sun splashes, from left, back row: Sasha Clopton, Sofie Howard and Parker Von Allmen; and front row: McKenzie Helle, Jordan Devlin and Natalie Hills. Attendance was standing room only at Lake Grove Elementary School students’ two performances of “Hope Grows” on Saturday.

Volunteer event organizer and parent Karen Alati said about 450 people turned out between the two afternoon showings, and it was the biggest crowd she’d seen in the last few years, possibly because there were more short performers than ever: 94 kids.

One student got sick, and two girls stepped up to take on her role — and did a great job, Alati said.

Shaking the Tree Theatre & Studio founder, teacher and artistic director Samantha Van Der Merwe directed the student production, based on the children’s book “The Apple-Pip Princess.” The book by Jane Ray is a fairy tale about a princess who brings hope and life to her kingdom with the seed of an apple after the queen’s death brings sadness and makes the land barren.

“I enjoyed it all, but Samantha is great to work with; she is just so calming,” said Alati, who has a fourth-grader and a fifth-grader at Lake Grove. “And, I loved making the costumes, working with the other parents and, of course, seeing everything come together at the end after all the work the parents and the kids put into it.”by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - About 450 people attended Lake Grove Elementary Schools two Saturday showings of Hope Grows, which featured a cast of 94 students including lightning bolts, from left:  Joseph Able and Ta Ohr, front row; and Mike Haldeman and Jack Kilshaw, back row.

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