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Seniors Take Charge

A large senior class drives Broad Run's "Forum."

When Broad Run puts on "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" this spring, it'll be the last time that this group of seriously involved seniors come together to put on a spring musical.

Fourteen members of the 31-member cast are seniors — a close-knit group that drama director Timothy Willmot remembers arriving in his classes "like a bag of wild puppies" in their freshman year.

"We dominate," said senior Bryce Nielson. He has appeared in every Broad Run mainstage play since his freshman year.

Nielson is part of a group that has grown up with Willmot — he's also celebrating his fourth year at Broad Run.

Willmot has tried to run the drama department on a professional model, often bringing in professional advisors such as choreographers to challenge the students.

"I started the program looking ahead and on this strong trajectory, and we've really come through," Willmot said.

It's reflected in the increasing complexity of the plays performed: from high-school staple "The Crucible" four years ago to the physically demanding musical "Forum" this year.

THE PERFORMANCE of the rarely-produced "God's Favorite," Neil Simon's take on the Job story, earned applause without a single actor on stage two years ago, Willmot said.

During the intermission, the crew trashed the set so when the curtain rose, it was a disaster with fog rolling across the stage. The audience broke out in applause upon seeing the impressive set.

For Nielson, who played a servant, it was a rewarding experience.

"It was full of adventure and excitement and comedy," he said.

Senior Kacy Trexler was one of the students responsible for "God's Favorite's" complicated set, and helped build the platforms seen in "Forum." During her time at Broad Run, she's learned she has "an immense love for power tools."

So much, in fact, that Trexler wants to be a stage manager after attending Christopher Newport University in Newport News.

Trexler credits the seniors' domination to another large senior class that left the drama department two years ago.

"We had to take care of the department," she said.

Trexler is feeling good about this year's spring musical after five weeks of rehearsal.

"There are lines that we hear and we still laugh at them, even though we've heard them a gabillion times," she said.