Act 1, Scene 1: The Fall
This year has been a busy one for the Theatre Department at Oakton High School. Four levels of performance classes and two levels of tech classes made for a really big Theatre Department. The first department-wide activity of the year was the annual march in the Vienna Halloween Parade. Acting in the parade is always a blast, and it makes for some great publicity for the year's shows. To further promote the Halloween spirit, and to work on storytelling skills, students got together one evening before Halloween to share scary stories with each other. The catch? Student Julie Kun has a cemetery dating back to the 18th century in her backyard.
The fall wasn't all fun and games though: the main activity was preparing for the three fall shows. Theatre 4, with the help of a few Theatre 3 students, furnished a magical production of old Bill's "Much Ado About Nothing." The Theatre 3 classes split into two groups, one tackling a play adaptation of the classic novel "The Outsiders," the other choosing "And Then There Were None" (also known as "Ten Little Indians.") Work began for each of these at the beginning of the year, and thoroughly consumed the lives of students for the following three months. In the end, all of the hard work paid off and what resulted was the presentation of three excellent plays.
The Fall arguably ended with the school-wide Winter Assembly. Annually, each branch of the performing arts departments puts together a 15-minute showcase of their accomplishments since the year began. Theatre chose to compose original scenes to perform, as well as a brief interlude by the Improv team. The scenes were universal hits, Improv gave a short but inspired performance, and everyone left the auditorium that day smiling. Behold, the power of comedy.
Act 1, Scene 2: The Winter
The winter months were equally busy for the theatre students of Oakton, with events launching into high gear right after the holiday break. The Virginia High School League competition was next on deck, and our selection was an adaptation of Dr. Seuss' "The Lorax." Choosing this play led to one of the most technically challenging productions Oakton had ever undertaken. The set consisted mainly of a gigantic book, constructed of cardboard and wood, and then painted vividly to provide for the proper flavor of Seuss' world. When set changes were to occur, stealthily-dressed stage hands would turn the pages and some implements of the set would pop out, giving a magical feel to the whole story. For their efforts, the tech department won an award in technical excellence. The Theatre 2 class performed in February, showcasing two plays, "A Critical Review" and "My Fatal Valentine." Both of these were murder-mystery shows that required audience participation. The Improv team assisted "My Fatal Valentine" by performing as a part of their show and by playing a few more games afterwards.
In class, students of all levels entered a unit in puppetry, which presented a fun alternative to acting. This unit segued into the introduction of choreography and moviemaking, two of the year's most time consuming, but rewarding, assignments. Students are free to combine the two, and are encouraged to do so, thus providing for a lot of freedom and some very creative final products.
Rehearsal for the year's culminating production, "Guys and Dolls," began in February. Casting actually took place in September, and costuming has been going on since last year thanks to the wonderful Linda Baker. Oakton High School is legendary when it comes to musical theatre, and this year promises to be no exception.
Act 2: The Spring and Beyond
This Spring will be chock full of important dates. On Saturday, April 6, Theatre will be assisting the school in its annual fund-raiser, "A Night at the Oaktown." Nothing is being held back, as the evening will see multiple performances by the Improv teams, the showing of the student-produced movies, scenes from "Guys and Dolls," two magic shows, expositions of choreography and perhaps more. Later in April, a group of 50 students will be taking a trip to New York City to see two Broadway shows, take a backstage tour of Radio City Music Hall, and enjoy the largest theatre district in America.
"Guys and Dolls" will have three performances: May 16, 17 and 18. Performances will begin at 7 p.m., with tickets at $10 a piece. Soon after the final curtain of "Guys and Dolls" is drawn, Theatre will showcase its last real event of the year, an awards night called "Just Desserts." For seniors, this will be their last chance to perform in high school, and will be filled with some memorable work.
Students who participated in "Much Ado About Nothing" will be attending the Cappies gala. Afterward, there shall be an undoubtedly gigantic cast party, one celebrating all of the year's accomplishments, where the casts and crews of all our shows will be feted.