Washington Open Elementary School’s “The Delicious Secret” is Incredible, Simply Incredible

Story and Photos by Cynthia Cheng

In Rupert Kingfisher’s children’s book, “Madame Pamplemousse and Her Incredible Edibles,” a young and talented chef named Madeline must live with her cruel uncle, who runs a restaurant in Paris. Madeline meets the kind shop owner Madame Pamplemousse, who sells her a jar of delicious pate. When this pate is a hit at the restaurant, the uncle orders the conflicted Madeline to steal the recipe. “The Delicious Secret,” a musical composed by Maureen Driggs and Celia Scheuerman, brought Kingfisher’s story to life in its world premiere on Feb. 2 at the Santa Clara High School Performing Arts Center. The show, with Washington Open Elementary School’s Pate, Souffle, and Escargot casts, runs through Feb. 11. Visit bit.ly/WODramaTicketSales to purchase tickets.

“We wrote this play with Washington Open in mind; we wanted to write something with a lot of group numbers and a lot of speaking characters,” said Scheuerman, owner of Santa Clara Musical Theater and show director. “We added more characters and gave it more depth and we wrote songs to go with it.”

Songs like the bubbly “The Incredible Edible” with the catchy lyrics “It’s incredible, simply incredible…” and the angst-filled ballad “The Life I Have Known” demonstrated the show’s broad range of music styles.

At Washington Open Elementary School, parents, faculty and staff have the option to participate in the Drama Program’s adult cast. This year’s adult cast is the Escargot cast.

“We’ve been having an adult cast for the last 19 years since the beginning of the Washington Open drama program,” Scheuerman said. “It started as a fundraiser and a community builder between the staff and parents. It has evolved into a fun community building social activity. It’s nice for parents and teachers and staff to be able to work on something outside of school where everyone is on common ground and everyone can just be outside the roles that they are during the school day.”

In the adult cast, school parents Rob Sopjes and Lauren Sopjes play Monsieur Cochon and a restaurant customer, respectively. In the Pate cast, their children Simon Sopjes, 10, and Zac Sopjes, 8, are Camembert and the President of France, respectively.

“It helps that I can better relate to what my child is going through as far as the play goes; we can go over lines together,” Rob Sopjes said. “I know Cochon John (John Kepner) from the Pate cast and it was cool getting to see his take on his character.”

Playing a tourist in the adult cast is Ann Dunham, a parent and technical support employee at the school. In the Souffle cast, her twin daughters, Bonnie Dunham, 9, and Corinne Dunham, 9, play a tourist and a chef, respectively.

“The dancing has been challenging; it takes a lot of repetition to get the steps down, which is why it’s nice to practice with Bonnie this year,” Ann Dunham said. “Being in the show takes me outside my comfort zone. I’d be tired and not want to go to rehearsal in the evenings. But when I get home, I’m always in a better mood after being with people and singing.”