Centreville Anyone accusing this election’s candidates of acting like schoolchildren would be right. That’s because the characters in Rocky Run Middle School’s play, “The Election,” are high-school students.
Performances are Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 15, 16, 17, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $7 at the door and at school lunches during show week.
“The kids don’t even know how funny the show is, but the parents are going to be rolling in their seats,” said Director Robyn Cuppett. “There’s a lot of political and really witty humor, and the lying is just so funny. And it’s great for these students because they’re so smart.”
Featuring a cast and crew of 56, the scenes take place inside a school, in a locker area and in an auditorium. Cuppett said the character of the school newspaper reporter holds the show together. “She reports on everything that’s happening, sets up the debates and hosts talk shows and news shows for the candidates,” said Cuppett. “And the campaign commercials are so out there; this play is satirical and hilarious.”
A Hayfield Secondary School grad and theater alum, Cuppett is Rocky Run’s new theater teacher. She previously taught at Hayfield Middle and also teaches four acting classes at the Metropolitan Fine Arts Center in Alexandria.
She’s also delighted to be at Rocky Run. “This is the best job ever,” she said. “These kids care about their roles; they’re always asking questions and offering new ideas. I’ve always loved satire and lighthearted things, and it was so much fun for me to pick and cast my own play. But the show’s only as strong as the people involved in it — and they’re incredibly talented. And the audience will love the comedy and political humor during an election year.”
Eighth-grader Jason Hadley portrays Mark, one of the candidates for student-body president of his high-school. “He’s a jock, but is only popular with his jock friends, not with everyone at school,” said Jason. “The former president resigned because of disorderly conduct. And throughout the play, Mark changes from confident to angry, nervous and happy, so he has lots of mood shifts.”
Jason says he can represent Mark well because “I really like how he approaches different situations and gets upset. At one point, I even get to throw a chair.” And since there’s a real-life election going on, Jason said the audience will be able to relate to the story.
“People will have a strong connection between what’s going on outside and what’s happening onstage,” he said. “And they’ll get to see the funny side of politics, as well as the corruption with big business and shady ads.”
Playing Kyli, the school newspaper reporter, is seventh-grader Mavis Manaloto. “She’s always where the action is,” said Mavis. “She’s a very motivated person and can be intense and aggressive. She can also be a little bit sneaky. She’s fun to play because she gets to interact with many characters, asking them questions. And during the candidates’ debate, she’ll even scream at them to answer the questions.”
Mavis said the audience will love the show’s comedy and “the places here and there that are completely unexpected and random.” And, she added, “The ending will be a surprise.”
Eighth-grader Eryn Meyer portrays Christy Martin, Mark’s opponent in the election. “She starts off as quiet and geeky and doesn’t really have any friends,” said Eryn. “But when she decides to run for president, she transforms into this confident, self-assured person. I love playing her because we have presidential debates and she’s very quick to respond and make a comeback. She’s strong and opinionated and gets her point across.”
After the real presidential election, said Eryn, “This play provides some comic relief by showing the humorous side of politics and campaigning. The story has lots of twists and turns and is exciting and funny.”
Playing Karl, the stereotypical, high-school jock, is eighth-grader Connor Cragg. “He’s a senior, plays football and is girl-crazy,” said Connor. “He’s Mark’s best friend and campaign manager; but at the same time, he falls for Christy, Mark’s opponent. He’s not very smart and comes up with out-of-nowhere campaign issues.”
Connor, too, enjoys his role. “I can interpret Karl so many, different ways,” he said. “And in real life, Jason and I are really good friends, so we’re having a good time being onstage together. And Karl has a lot of funny lines.”
At the show’s end, said Connor, “The audience will be talking about all the funny things that happened. The show starts off normal, but then snowballs — it’s a great storyline.”