Every year, Nueva eighth graders participate in the Recital Project, established more than twenty years ago as an opportunity for students to investigate and learn about a passion of their choosing. For his Recital Project, Owen Y.-L. wrote a musical based on a traditional Chinese folktale. He took his project one step further, enlisting his parents and sister to perform alongside him in the production. Performing Overhead: The Musical over spring break not only helped Owen bring his project to life, it also helped his family—parents Sandi and Nolan and sixth-grade sister Pearl—beat shelter-in-place boredom.
“Over spring break, we decided to write a musical featuring each member of the family as a different character,” he said. “It turned out to be a great way to collaborate on something with everyone, especially since we are all stuck under the same roof.”
Owen wrote a catchy musical score, including the melodic songs “See the Fire,” “Heaven,” and “Overhead.” The plot is based on a Chinese folktale that inspired the Mid-Autumn Festival, which is still celebrated today in Asia and all over the world to honor family.
In the folktale, 10 sons of a heavenly empress fight with each other, which turns them into suns and boils the Earth. Hou Yi, an archer, comes to the rescue by shooting down all but one of the suns. The empress is furious and banishes Hou Yi and his wife, Chang’e, to the mortal world. One day, Hou Yi stumbles upon an old man who is selling an immortality potion. Hou Yi, too poor to purchase it, steals his wife’s precious ring to pay for it. The old man warns Hou Yi to only drink half of the elixir vial. When Hou Yi returns, Chang’e realizes her ring is missing and, in a fit of rage, drinks the entire potion. She floats past the heavens, and she has remained stuck on the moon forever.
“It took me about four months to write the musical,” Owen noted. “For our family production, it took about a week to record everyone’s vocals. The filming took place over two days, and it took me about three days to edit the entire performance. We recorded the entire performance in front of a green screen (green cloth), and then I edited out the green and replaced it with a background. I love video editing, so the editing process was fun and gave me more practice.”
Owen added that his family is spending much more time together due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had its benefits.
“My family has introduced me to many new things that I never would have never tried before, such as cooking and smoothie making,” he said. “When my parents are working during the day from home, I also have had to take care of my sister as an additional responsibility, which has definitely been an interesting experience. Overall, creating the musical was a great lemonade-out-of-lemons experience that allowed my family to work closely together to create something fun.”
We invite the Nueva community to enjoy Overhead: A Musical.