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Doin’ the Twist on the Stallion Stage

“Oliver, Oliver never before has a boy asked for more!!” South County’s first ever musical is dancing and singing its way onto the Stallion Stage on May 5, 6 and 7.

The musical brings together high school and middle school students, giving the middle school students a chance to get up close and personal with all aspects of a large scale high school theatre production. Molly Dickerson, a junior, who is playing the role of Nancy, said “It will be an enjoyable production because we have a wide variety of students involved in the show.” Middle school students are also very excited about the opportunity to perform in a full “Broadway” type show. Eighth grader Ally Barrale, who is playing Bet, said “It’s so great to be able to do all of the things I love the most—acting, singing and dancing!”

“Oliver!” is based on the novel “Oliver Twist”` by Charles Dickens. It tells the story of an orphan boy who gets mixed up with the wrong crowd in the city streets of London. “I was so excited when I received the part of Oliver, I didn’t even know what to say,” said Freshman Alex Dyson upon learning the good news that he would be cast as Oliver Twist in the show. Many underclassmen received leading roles in the play due to the absence of seniors at South County Secondary School.

“Oliver!” isn’t the only production that the South County Drama Program is taking on. The high school Theatre II/III/Tech class is taking a step back in time and giving up their orphan rags for jester hats in their production of Shakespearean scenes titled “Foolosophy.” Not to be left out—the eigth grade advanced theatre arts students have put together a presentation of Shakespeare scenes titled “Magically Shakespeare.” Both shows will be presented as a part of the annual Folger Shakespeare Festival. The festival consists of schools coming from all over the National Capitol area in support of their love for Shakespeare. All the students’ work hard in preparing scenes from some of Shakespeare’s many masterpieces to create an impressive performance and thoroughly enjoyable day.

Students who participate are educated on the stories and characters of many famous plays while watching other schools perform. They also interact with students from other schools, often striking up new friendships. After all of the schools perform, the productions are adjudicated by Washington Area theatre professionals and prizes are awarded. “The best part is seeing the professional Shakespeare Company perform different scenes! Sometimes you even get to go up there with them,” says freshman Kheeze Willis who went to the festival last year.

Between festivals and musicals there should be no time left in the day, but wait there is more: the school’s Theatre Sports team has already competed at three county-wide tournaments — taking second place after a tie breaker round at one tournament and bringing home bronze at another. The wildly popular comedy troupe has also performed at numerous school functions such as the Stallion Stampede and the Lorton Arts Partnership Celebration. “The students have a great time watching and playing these improvisational games. They also learn the valuable skill of being confident on stage and thinking at the top of their intelligence,” says coach and high school drama teacher Sherry Adams Johnson — affectionately known as Mrs. A.J. to students. Team members put their minds to the test and make up hilarious skits off the top of their heads using variables the audience supplies. It is “Whose Line Is It Anyway,” except instead of Wayne Brady, talented high school students keep you doubled over with laughter. You might be thinking “why do these kids put themselves through so much hard work just to spend what seems like an eternity after school everyday?”

“We just love being together” said sophomore Elizabeth Ensminger. “It is so much more than a class or a show — it’s having great friends who love something as much as you do and working toward a common goal of putting on a show.”

Many students in the South County drama program have more than just their performance endeavors to look forward to this spring. They are going to New York City for three days in the beginning of April. The students are going to get to visit NBC Studios and strut their stuff at a Broadway dance workshop. Besides shopping, and well… shopping, the students will get to enjoy two Broadway shows, “The Light in The Piazza” and “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.” Of coincidence, Kim Grigsby, the conductor of “The Light in the Piazza” is a former student of Mary McAdory, SCSS’s Fine Arts Administrator and legendary former choral director at Hayfield. Thanks to Grigsby, these enthusiastic Broadway bound students will get to meet the technical crew, cast, and musicians. Students are excited, and positive the trip will be a blast.

“The students of South County are ready to prove themselves as a theatrical powerhouse” said Ray Yankey (Fagin in the musical “Oliver!”). With a wonderful fall show of “You Can’t Take It With You” that started their first year off with a bang (literally) and putting on 10 one-act productions over a three day period in February — there is no where to go but up.