Drama ushers in a new year

September 14, 2009 — by Mary Mykhaylova

Despite it being a mere few weeks into the school year, the drama department has hit the ground running with prompt auditions both inside and outside the classroom. While the annual fall play “On the Razzle” is already rehearsing, advanced and honors drama students have begun to direct and act in mini-productions of their own.

On the Razzle

Production director Chris Mahle settled on Tom Stoppard’s farce “On the Razzle” due to the quirky humor and exaggerated characters. “Also, there’s plenty of sexual innuendo, which I’ve discovered appeals to the teenage mind,” joked Mahle.

Though casting for this show took less time than usual, Mahle still stewed over placing his actors into their respective parts.

“SHS has a very talented and fearless student body,” he said.

Stage manager Jennifer Nelson, a senior, agrees about the caliber of “On the Razzle” actors.

“Looking back at the auditions, I just know that everyone in the cast is amazing,” she said.

Fortunately, every auditioner has been cast. Seniors Tommy Mednick and Chris Renalds and junior Jay Lee are only a few of the comedic leads to watch out for when “On the Razzle” opens its curtains Oct. 22-25.

Cast member Mikaela Burton is excited about the production.

“I know everyone will be fantastic,” she said. “My friends in drama always keep me laughing.”

According to Burton, this comedy is the perfect show for the drama department.

“[This play] is hilarious and it will be great [for the drama department] because it really lets everyone in drama show off their talents in crazy, zany roles,” she said.

As always, Mahle hopes that this production will be a learning experience.

“Theatre is so much more than just acting and lines,” he said.

Switching Roles

Meanwhile, many “On the Razzle” leads, as well as other Drama 4H seniors, are directing their own mini-productions.

Fourteen Honors Drama students have partnered into teams of on director and one assistant director.

“Directing is actually a lot more stressful than I thought it would be,” said senior Sung Park. “It’s easy being an actor; all you have to do is audition and get parts; while being a director, however, there are so many things to be taken into consideration. It’s a challenge, a good challenge.”

Though the original intent was to have all the plays running simultaneously, the students felt that it would be more manageable to conduct this process in two rounds: the assistant directors will get their chance to direct later on.

Mahle is satisfied with their solution.

“The students are taking ownership of their education and gravitating to solutions that will teach them the most,” he said. “In life we all end up overwhelmed at one time or another, and it’s how we deal with those challenges that separates the grownups from the kids.”

The directors have chosen half-hour excerpts from existing plays, and the advanced drama students have auditioned to be in these productions. Mahle is assured that the directing process will be a “wonderful source of life skills” for his honors students.

Though the gears of these productions have only just been set in motion, the directors are already experiencing the benefit of this opportunity.

“It’s been interesting seeing how the younger actors have improved, and just watching auditions gives a whole new feel to being an actor,” said Park.

This initial project should culminate in a student-produced one-act festival at the end of second semester.

“It can be a grueling task, but the rewards are amazing when the play-writing and directing students hear the applause. It’s very inspiring to see,” Mahle said.

He enjoys observing his students grow over the years.

“I’ve been here long enough to see students who played in the ensemble as freshmen now writing their own plays and directing their friends on stage. I doubt many of them could picture themselves doing that three years ago,” he said. “I hope they are as proud of themselves as I am of them.”

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