Few schools attempt a nine-show season, much less six student-directed productions; however, H-B Woodlawn does just that. This means that shows are constantly overlapping and the tech crews are striking sets almost as fast as they build them.
H-B Woodlawn has two theatres, a main stage and a black box. The main stage is generally reserved for the annual musical, high school play, and middle school play, all directed by adults. The black box, on the other hand, is home to the student-directed productions.
The student-directors are given almost free reign when it comes to their plays. The material they choose varies from classics, such as Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing: and Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire,” to farces like “Noises Off” by Michael Frayn, to contemporary plays, such as “Proof” by David Auburn. Student-directors hold auditions, cast their own shows, and create rehearsal schedules. Students also run many of the technical aspects of H-B theatre, including lighting, set, and costume design.
As though this does not make the H-B Woodlawn drama department intense enough, they have selected an extremely challenging play to be reviewed as their Cappies show this year. “The Marriage of Bette and Boo,” by Christopher Durang, is darkly funny and slightly absurdist as it delves into the complicated relationships in a family. Bette and Boo get married after only knowing each other a short while. Bette wants a family and lots and lots of children, Boo just wants to be happy. From the moment they speak their vows, Bette and Boo embark on a path that will be difficult, painful and sometimes devastating, but at times also funny and poignant. Accompanying them on this journey are their outrageous and very different families, whose only common factor is their tendency to pretend problems don’t exist.
Under the direction of H-B Woodlawn senior, Julia Nakad, the cast explores the dynamics of this tumultuous marriage and the people surrounding it, while dealing with difficult issues such as alcoholism. The cast faces the daunting task of bringing these complicated characters to life and transforming them into real people with whom the audience can empathize.
Hopefully the months of hard work and long rehearsals will pay off, and the creative, innovative, and passionate atmosphere of the H-B Woodlawn drama department will be reflected in the production. “The Marriage of Bette and Boo” certainly is a challenge, but challenge is no stranger to H-B Woodlawn.