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Drama Students Thrive in Never-ending Season

Under the direction of Shannon Khatcheressian and Ed Monk, the Chantilly High School Drama Department is thriving with life and talent. Founded in 1974 by Elaine Wilson, the department is home to many students who have a love for performing. Along with having four levels of theater arts classes, the drama department produces a play, a musical, two children's shows, and various competition and festival pieces throughout the year.

The students and directors work long, hard hours to manufacture the many productions put on during the school year. The students ran the Homecoming Spirit Rally cakewalk, raising over $200 for the benefit of the department. Seniors Matt Jewel and Nikki Colange organized and directed a yearly event called "Coffeehouse." Students auditioned with a monologue, scene, song, or dance, and performed it for an audience who enjoys bagels, pastries, coffee, and the charm of the waitresses.

There are many holidays throughout the year, and two in particular are highlighted by the musical departments, with the help of the drama students. The Halloween Orchestra Concert takes place annually, in which the orchestra showcases their talent with a compilation of Halloween-type musical pieces, in which the drama students interpret these songs. Holiday Spectacular/Tiny Tots is one of the most successful shows of the entire year. The choral, instrumental, and drama departments pull together and produce a family-friendly show for the winter holiday season. There are two night performances and an all-day event where pre-schools and elementary schools come to see the show- all three of which are sold out every year.

CHANTILLY HIGH School had not done a musical in eight years, until November of 2002. Shannon Khatcheressian decided to take on the task of directing a musical last year, and decided to continue this and do the same for this year. "Guys and Dolls," the story of a show girl, a mission girl, two gamblers, and what happens when they all intertwine, was performed at Chantilly High School on Nov. 12-14, 2003. With the musical direction of Molly Khatcheressian and the choreography by Rebekah McKendry, the show was a huge success. The hard work and dedication of the students and directors was shown through their excellent performances.

The comic genius of Ed Monk was, yet again, displayed through the performance of his latest children's show, "The Princess and the Porcupine," on Jan. 23-25, 2004. The story of a selfish princess and a hopeful porcupine was molded for the younger crowd, and fun for all ages. Directed and written by Monk, the response to the show was outstanding and the children enjoyed meeting all of the characters after the show.

The Chantilly High School Drama Department enjoys competing to see other schools, meet new people, get ideas, and better themselves. In February 2004 they competed in the Virginia High School League One Act Play competition, winning first place at the district competition and moving on to the regional competition with their performance entitled "A Curtain Call to Arms or The Final Bow." The Folger Shakespeare Festival in March 2004 was one of the competition pieces that won them three awards. Shakespeare's "Tainted Love" won the Peggy O'Brien Award for Best Ensemble for the entire cast, and two Excellence in Acting awards were given to two groups of students from the piece; Samantha Packard, Meredith Lynch, and Kailer Miller were awarded one for their scene from "Much Ado About Nothing," and Phil Reid, Matt Jewel, Kim Marker, Jake Ashey, Meredith Lynch, and Debbie Meilo for their Mechanicals scene from "A Midsummer Night's Dream." The department also competed at the Northern Virginia Theater Festival in March 2004. The multiple teams won many awards, as follows: Novice Reader's Theater, 1st place; Advanced Reader's Theater, 2nd place; Makeup (Justin McKay), 1st place; Theater Sports Team, 1st place; Monologues (Matt Jewel), 2nd place; Duo Scene (Nikki Colange and Nick Crowley), 2nd place; Pantomime, 2nd place, and overall, Chantilly won 3rd place.

THE COMING MONTHS will prove to be just as busy for the department. Monk is directing "Don't Drink the Water," a comedy by Woody Allen about a family of American tourists trapped in an embassy somewhere behind the Iron Curtain during the cold war. The show will be performed on April 22-24 and 29-31. The students are working hard to make it their best for the Cappie's critics who will review it and nominate it for awards.

"The Kid Who Talked to Penguins," another Monk classic, is the next children's show to be performed. Shannon Khatcheressian has taken on the task of directing this children's show. It's the story of a lonely boy who stands up for the penguins at the zoo, and learns the good and bad consequences of his actions. It will be performed from June 4-6 at Chantilly High School.