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A Look at West Springfield’s Year in Theatre

Known for its theatre quality, the West Springfield High School Theatre Department is launching an exciting theatrical season for 2006-07.

For the first time in school history the WSHS advanced theatre class working in conjunction with the Text Alive! educational program (sponsored by The Shakespeare Theatre of Washington, D.C.) is developing scene work from Shakespeare’s play, “Richard III” to present on the stage of the professional theatre in Washington in early December. The noted theatre program annually awards a limited number of competitively selected high schools from the District of Columbia and surrounding communities in Maryland and Virginia the chance to explore Shakespeare's work through a series of in-school, humanities-based workshops and an in-depth rehearsal and performance process. Over the course of the fall semester, Shakespeare theatre artists, Vanessa Buono and Caroline Alexander and theatre educators meet weekly with West Springfield students to explore the plays, history and culture of William Shakespeare's England. West Springfield theatre students also will be given the opportunity to work with stage combat professional, Casey Caleba, in staging the final battle scene for the complete high school performance in December.

An added benefit of the program is the final perk. In February the class will see a performance of Richard III directed by Tony award-winning director, Michael Kahn and participate in an after the show discussion with the director and cast members.

DURING MID-OCTOBER theatre tech students explored career opportunities in technical theatre and the film industry. Students had the opportunity to meet professional filmmaker and Spartan alumnus, Kirk Westwood, who worked with the class on exploring benefits of technical schools such as Full Sail in Florida. Mr. Westwood presented a talk on today’s careers in filmmaking and how art evokes imagination and excellence in the movie industry.

Spartan improvisation team members for this year have already begun with some fun after school workshops and participating in local improvisation events. Teams for this year are: Varsity (We Love Steve Irwin); JV Team (Dr. Strangeprov); and the Freshman team (Factory Seconds). Members include Nathan Taylor (Captain), Kelly Snow (Co-Captain), Tommy Crompton, Sam Hart, Amber Barraclough, Bo Worley , Margaret Heine , Nicki Black, Matt Grogan, Zach Williams, Markus Gerhard, Katie Carroll, David Halle, Megan Froedrich, Sarah Wilson, Kelley Gates, Michael Rose, Catherine Grizzle.

In November the cast of “Flowers for Algernon” and a group of advanced theatre and tech students will travel to Richmond to participate and compete in the Virginia Theatre Association Conference play festival. Students will participate in one act play presentations, set design, on the spot playwriting, costume design, and improvisation events. Attendees include: Helen McCarthy, Emily Bernhards, Katie Carroll, Amber Barraclough, Ian Mahoney, Monique Romeo, David Woody, Caitlyn Black, Valerie Lapointe, Alex Hantke, Matt Grogan, Dan Westbrook, Julia Lisowski, Casey McKlveen, Anisha Rijhwani, Rebeca Pell and Maggie Rosbolt.

BACK AT THE SCHOOL, West Springfield’s new theatrical season begins with a myriad of one act plays, ranging from the dark to the light- hearted and comedic. The Fall Festival of One Act Plays will include: “Fearful Symmetry” by Alan Haehnel; “Going to School” by Ed Monk, directed by Linn McGavin; “Mandy Dear” by Hillary Ingber, directed by Caitlyn Black; “Flowers for Algernon” by David Rogers, Property Rites by Alan Haehnel; “Y’all” by Elizabeth Scales Rheinfrank; and “Competition Piece” by John Wells. Each evening will offer a different lineup of shows and a variety of casts including students from the advanced theatre arts classes as well as new faces to the WSHS stage.

The Festival of One Acts performances are Thursday through Saturday Nov. 16, 17 and 18, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Don’t miss out on this refreshing change of pace in what promises to be an incredible display of talent!

February will feature the much talked about and newest adaptation of Jane Austin’s classic and romantic novel, “Pride and Prejudice,” written and developed by noted acting coach and director, Jon Jory of the Actors’ Theatre of Louisville. An exceptionally well-crafted, clear and moving version of the famous story of the romantic game between Miss Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy (both of whom have feelings for each other, but neither of whom wishes to admit it to one another) “Pride and Prejudice” will warm the hearts of everyone seeing this stellar production. West Springfield’s show and story of true love will reveal the truth of whether Darcy’s pride is forgotten and Bennett’s prejudice is put away.

AND OF COURSE, what would WSHS be without its yearly blockbuster of a musical? The Cappies show for 2007 is “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” a tap-dancing comic extravaganza which takes place in 1922 — a period piece having everything a musical needs to be successful, including catchy tunes, a lovable villain, and spunky characters. “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” a high-spirited musical romp that has all of New York dancing the Charleston, takes place in New York City in 1922.

“Thoroughly Modern Millie” tells the story of young Millie Dillmount, who has just moved to the city in search of a new life for herself. It’s a New York full of intrigue and jazz — a time when women are entering the workforce and the rules of love and social behavior are forever changing. Based upon the popular movie, the updated stage version of “Thoroughly Modern Millie” includes a full score of new songs and bright dance numbers.

Filled with frisky flappers, dashing leading men and a dragon-lady of a villainess audiences will love to hate, “Thoroughly Modern Millie” is a perfectly constructed evening of madcap merriment. And with the role of Millie Dillmount, musical theatre has found a new heroine for the ages.

The 2002 Broadway version show garnered 12 Drama Desk nominations and 11 Tony Award nominations, the most honored show of that Broadway season. At the Tony Award ceremony in 2002 “Millie” took home the coveted Best Musical prize of the year. Hurry to buy tickets online as this show promises to be a community sellout.