Chapter I: The Departure
Once upon a time, there was an elementary school on the Island of Staten called PS22. It was a place filled with ordinary children endowed with an extraordinary power. Through the medium of song, these children would put their hearts on their sleeve, throw caution to the wind, and in beautiful harmony would sing their way into people's hearts. And indeed, they sang their way into the hearts of many. Through a magical thing dubbed (by the goddess Kylie) the "Intrawebular," the "many" became millions, and the PS22 Chorus slowly became known throughout the land for its unusual, but always resonant musical charms. It didn't take long before word of these young phenomena had spread to the royalty of a mystical land called Hollywood. On a cold December day, the beautiful Princess Anne Hathaway from that faraway place arrived at the school accompanied by one of the great kings, Bruce Cohen, and announced that the PS22 Chorus was being summoned to perform in Hollywood's highest court, The Kodak Theater, for a very special ceremonial ritual known as.... The Oscars! The kids were to sing the beautiful ancient ballad, "Over The Rainbow." And after two months of preparation (writing vocal arrangement, executing vocal arrangement, fitting it to score, etc.), they set off upon their journey.
Chapter II: The Arrival
When the PS22 Chorus arrived in the land of Hollywood, they were greeted by a large group of people known as the Paparazzi. Though often portrayed as hungry wolves out for the hunt, the Paparazzi surrounding the group were actually very polite and delighted by the PS22 Chorus, and used various image-capturing machines and devices to preserve their moment with the kids. The 10-year-olds smilingly made their way through the crowd, and were then taken by chariot to the the magnificent Renaissance Hollywood Hotel, where they settled in for a bit of food, drink, rest & relaxation -- before the adventure was really to begin.
Before long, the PS22 Chorus kids were whisked away to the Kodak Theater for a rehearsal. The children took the stage and practiced their rendition of "Over The Rainbow" that they were to sing at the ceremony. The few people who were fortunate enough to be in attendance and bore witness to the beautiful test-run performance were reduced to tears, and it did not take long before people realized magic was in the air. Princess Anne Hathaway, who was there to host the event with Prince James Franco, was overcome with emotion after hearing the children sing again, and could be seen wiping away tears before she and James ran on stage to greet the children.
As soon as they finished rehearsing, the chorus was joined on the Kodak stage by the Hollywood jester known as Jimmy Kimmel and even sang a song especially prepared for him to help open his own comedic show that would appear after the Oscars. Jester Jimmy wore a PS22 Chorus costume himself, and joined in on the shenanigans for a rollicking good time!
After the long day of rehearsal, the PS22 Chorus kids took their well-earned night's rest at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel. The following day, they took a break from their hard work, and were escorted into the Land Of Make Believe, also known in some corners of the world as Disneyland! When the kids arrived, they took the stage in front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle to perform several of their favorite songs in their repertoire to an appreciative crowd of onlookers.
After they warmed the hearts of all those in attendance, the kids got to play in the land of Disney. The kids were treated like royalty, ushered past the lengthy queues of citizens and pilgrims from afar to enjoy all the amusements the magical park had to offer. It was a fantastic day, and the kids (young and old) certainly were enchanted by the experience. The PS22 Chorus left feeling happier and more tightly bonded together by the fun times had by all!
Before anyone could believe, the big day had arrived, and after a quick, last-minute rehearsal, the PS22 Chorus gathered at the Kodak Theater to make their way inside the Oscars festival! They walked an endless stream of Red Carpet, waving to the crowd who cheered them on for their big Hollywood debut! They stopped along the way to speak with our hometown friend, Robin Roberts, who was immediately put under the children's spell.
Chapter VII: PS22 Chorus Conquers Hollywood
After their proud promenade on the Red Carpet, hours flew like seconds, and before anyone knew it, it was time for the PS22 Chorus to take the stage at the Kodak Theater for its much anticipated performance! The kids showed absolutely no signs of nervousness or trepidation of any kind as the beautiful Princess Anne introduced them and they made their way to the stage. It was their moment, and what a moment they made for themselves! All of their hard work paid off, and the kids showed Hollywood and the world that they were truly a musical force to be reckoned with. Midway through the performance they were joined on stage by Hollywood's royalty, which made for what most people consider to be the most memorable moment of the evening's festivities! The PS22 Chorus received a magnificent standing ovation from the crowd, then went backstage to celebrate with ice cream and good cheer for a job well done! Afterwards, they were congratulated by yet more of Hollywood's elite, including Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban, Jeremy Renner, Tom Kane, Debra Lee Furness and one of the the kid's favorites, Wolverine!
The next day, the PS22 Chorus celebrated their successful conquering of Hollywood in a way that paralleled the excitement of the day before! They had been summoned by Oprah, the Empress of All Television, who was hosting her very own Oscars after-party! Flying in on her own magic carpet, the kids were joined on stage by the Queen of Pop, Katy Perry who performed one of her most beloved songs, "Firework," with the children. The kids received yet another thunderous standing ovation from the audience in the Kodak Theater, which left their Hollywood scorecard at 2 for 2! Afterwards, they had wonderful gifts of Samsung Galaxy Tabs bestowed upon them by the Empress! Backstage, the kids celebrated and were greeted warmly by the Empress, Queen Katy, her gallant husband Russell Brand, and Carson Kressley. (A definite personal highlight was meeting living legend, Eli Wallach -- he and his family were the kindest, most gracious people, and were thoroughly charmed by the kids!)
Click here to see the kids perform "Firework" with Katy Perry!
Epilogue: "There's No Place Like Home"
Even the most wonderful of stories must come to an end, and indeed, the following day, the kids at PS22 embarked upon their journey home. Throughout our Hollywood fairytale, there was stress, exhaustion, and a fair share of bumps in the road, but those moments seemed to be muted out by the amazing memories worth more than their weight in gold. As is the case with any good fairytale, there are always lessons to be found. Ultimately, the one that resounds just so happens to be the motto of the PS22 Chorus, "anything is possible" with hard work and dedication. These kids are most certainly the poster-children for this assertion. But perhaps even more importantly, our fairytale serves as a reminder to us all that friends, family, and the bonds we make with people are the most important gifts we can receive in life. Our happiest times in Hollywood were just spending time with each other, and meeting down-to-earthers like Anne Hathaway, Russell Brand, Robin Roberts... all those who truly appreciated the kids for what they are -- a reminder of everything hopeful and good in the world. Many would think it would be hard returning to the day-to-day drudge and toil after such an amazing experience, but ultimately, the PS22 Chorus found out there really is "no place like home."