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HHS Drama Students Share Experiences

Students encourage others to follow suit.

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While there may have been a million stories in the naked city, and the Herndon High School drama department may not have that many, the stories they have run a gamut of emotions, but don’t count embarrassment amongst them.

“There are no embarrassing moments on stage,” said Herndon High junior Laura Dunlap, 16, of Herndon, playing her first female lead, Adelaide, in the upcoming “Guys and Dolls.”

“I love attention and being in the spotlight,” said Dunlap. “I’m not Laura Dunlap on stage, I’m whatever character I’m playing. I’m not nervous — I’m very confident. My fear is tripping over my high heels,” she admitted.

“It’s a chance to be somebody else,” said Herndon High sophomore Sarah Kamins, 16, of Herndon who studied ballet for six years.

Lack of nervousness and possession of confidence are traits shared by Herndon High senior Evan Vosburgh, 18, of Reston, playing the male lead of Nathan Detroit in “Guys and Dolls” — his first performance.

“My friends convinced me to try out and it seemed like fun — and it is,” said Vosburgh, attributing his lack of nervousness to his two years singing with the Madrigal Choir and three years singing with the Show Choir.

WHILE VOSBURGH is performing in his first show, Herndon High senior Adam Douglass, 18, of Reston, is a four-year veteran of the drama department. “There’s a satisfaction when the whole thing comes together,” said Douglass, who won the award for Best Actor at the Virginia Theater Association conference for his role as Mr. Smith in “The Bold Soprano,” last November in Richmond.

For high school students, the Cappies are the awards to shoot for, said Herndon High senior Katie Bull, 17, of Herndon, herself nominated for Best Female Cameo as the Shoelace Peddler in “Mad Woman of Chaillot,” performed in the fall of 2000.

“I didn’t win. We sat through a three-hour gala — seven nominations, we won nothing. It was depressing. I wanted to leave, but I couldn’t. It was awesome to be nominated. I had this tiny role, but I made the most out of it,” said Bull, who is also a Cappies reviewer.

“If a school wants to be a Cappies school, they have to pay to join the Cappies organization,” said Herndon High junior Ashley Terban, 17, of Reston in her first year of acting and reviewing. In order to qualify for nomination, a school must also review other performances, she said. A minimum of three students review a play. “It helps to see the competition — we can make improvements for our own performances,” said Terban, who reviewed “Cinderella” at Lake Braddock Secondary School with Bull this year.

Both reviewers agreed that “Cinderella” was a good performance. “It was a refreshing love story,” said Terban.

On the other hand, Terban and Bull also agreed that the Mount Vernon High School performance of “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” left something to be desired. “The lead singer had laryngitis. The understudy was unprepared. They have a really small stage and their sets were falling apart,” said Terban.

“I just felt bad for them. It could have been an OK show,” said Bull, assistant director of “Guys and Dolls.”

WHILE BULL has been involved with the Herndon High drama department for her four years in school, Terban is in her first year, having come from a ballet background. For Terban, her acting role and reviewing have come by accident, she confessed.

“My first role — Helena, the lead in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ was by accident. Because I was in drama class, I had to try out for the play for a grade — that was a new rule,” said Terban. “I also needed to do a review for a grade, and ended up being the third reviewer,” she said.

In addition to Bull and Terban’s involvement with the Cappies, Herndon High senior Cathy Crotty, 17, of Herndon, had a brush with the Cappies that landed her on stage at The Kennedy Center.

“I was part of a singing and dancing group for the Cappies gala at The Kennedy Center. Even though I was in the background, it was still really cool. It was really exciting. I think I cried,” said Crotty, headed to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in the fall.

Bull, headed to Virginia Commonwealth University’s theater department in the fall, admitted to being happy she didn’t have to kiss anybody on stage. “It can be awkward. You might have to kiss somebody you don’t like or someone who smells or has bad breath,” she said.

Herndon High senior Keenan Hoffmann, 18, of Herndon said he doesn’t mind the kissing scenes. “I had to dip my partner in ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ to do the kiss. Her huge beehive hairdo wig fell off her head,” he said. “I had to do quite a bit of kissing — it was no bother. She actually liked me at the time,” said Hoffmann, adding that he had “a girlfriend of sorts who did not like the kissing scenes at all.”

While Hoffman and Crotty share a kissing scene in “Guys and Dolls,” it is another physical aspect she is looking forward to.

“I get to slap him. I’m looking forward to it — it’s unexpected. I’ll have to get a stool,” said Crotty, pointing out the height differences between the two.

“I learned to slap at theater camp,” added Bull. “I liked it — I was paired with someone I didn’t like,” she said.

ANOTHER CAPPIES winner, Herndon High sophomore Thomas “Tommy” Linn, 16, of Reston said that although he plays smaller roles, he hopes to move up to “more pivotal parts. It’s what I aspire to do,” said Linn, winner of the award for Outstanding Drama Club Member.

Herndon High sophomore William Smith, 15, of Reston, also aspires to a career in acting and directing. “I enjoy the culture and the acting,” he said, recommending the drama department for future Herndon High students. “Do it all four years — you’ll love it,” he said.