<36hd>‘Kids Are Really Going to Like this Show’
<1b>By Bonnie Hobbs
In Chantilly High’s upcoming children’s play, “Imagine If,” Nadia’s imaginary friend Ralph gets her in trouble with a prank gone awry. So the pair escapes to the Land of Fun Friends, where imaginary friends live but humans aren’t allowed. What can possibly go wrong?
Show times are Thursday - Friday, Jan. 26-27, at 7 p.m., and Saturday, Jan. 28, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tickets are $7 at the door or via www.chantillyhsdrama.com. Featuring a cast and crew of some 40 people, this play is double cast to enable as many students as possible to participate.
“This show is near and dear to my heart,” said Director Shannon Spicer. “I wrote it about my son when he was 5 years old and had an imaginary friend. The cast has done an amazing job of capturing the comedic timing, as well as the over-the-top physicality and energy.”
Calling it “a perfect show for the entire family,” Spicer said “Imagine If” is full of hearty laughs and special moments for parents and children alike. “I always try to write my plays with relatable characters so the audience members can see themselves in some of the characters’ qualities or traits,” she explained.
Sophomore Camille Dausch portrays 8-year-old Nadia. “She’s a bit lonely; people tease her in school because she has an imaginary friend,” said Dausch. “She’s also friendly, adventurous and athletic. She can go into an imaginary world because Ralph told her where the portals to it are, so she does.
“She then enters a contest at the festival there and has to do lots of challenges. She wants to stay in that world awhile because, when she goes home, her mom will be mad at her. She’d gotten in trouble at school and was grounded and not supposed to leave her room.”
Enjoying her role, Dausch said, “It’s really fun to act for little kids and interact with them, too. Nadia is an energetic character, and playing her is a great learning experience to improve my acting skills. Nadia’s open to new things and always wants to have fun. It’s cool and a big responsibility to play the lead, but it also gives me room to grow.”
She said the audience will love the show’s humor, plus the actors’ interactions with the audience. “They’ll talk to the kids and will also go into the audience,” said Dausch. “It’s an adventure story, and little kids will like seeing characters about their age, up on stage, having such a good time.”
“It’s a fun role and requires a lot of movement,” continued Obernberger. “You get to do lots of things you don’t normally get to, like run into the audience and sing the ‘Sophia the First’ theme song. I also have lots of stage time and act with the largest number of actors in this show, which is fun because everybody’s character is so different.”
In a children’s show, he explained, “You have to act over the top and use big movements and goofy voices – and it’s fun to act that way, once in a while. And the kids will like when we give yellow flowers to five audience members and then try to get them back. They’ll also like the silly jokes, and we have some for parents, too.”
Lily Payne, a sophomore, plays three roles, including Queen Bathilda Matilda of the Land of Fun Friends, which exists in children’s imaginations. “This land has everything kids like,” she said. “For example, the main food is candy, and play is prioritized over work. Its inhabitants wear comical outfits with bright colors and patterns; and as queen, I help run the festival and am respected by everyone. I’m also accepting and love my people.”
Payne likes portraying the queen because she’s “more fun, sillier and brighter than my past characters, and I have more emotions to work with. This show has really enjoyable, big, diverse, expressive characters, so audience members will have definite feelings about them – because these characters demand attention.”
Besides the cast, tech crew members are always a critical part of any production, and one of them helping bring “Imagine If” to life is Lighting Director Ray Islam. “Lighting is especially important during scene changes and to show differences in emotions,” said Islam. “I change the LED colors to do this. For example, for battle scenes, we’ll have intense, deep-red lights. And for blue-outs – similar to blackouts – we can have a couple follow spots [spotlights] so the audience can see certain actors onstage.”
“In this parallel universe, it’s really colorful, so I use a lot of different colors,” continued Islam. “And because kids like bright colors, I also use greens, purples, yellows and pinks.”
It’s a great job, said Islam, because “I get to make a lot of decisions about what a scene might look like. And that’s crucial because a scene’s lighting could change its entire context. It’s fun and I’m enjoying it. It’s my second year working on lighting, but my first as the director.” As for the audience, added Islam, “The characters are very entertaining, so kids are really going to like this show.”
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