Theatre Classes Perform

Amanda Weston

     The end of the school year means different things to many students. Some have AP exams, college selection and summer trips in mind, but for theatre students final spring productions are their focus. In May, the theatre productions classes, musical theatre and UIL class will be performing a total of four shows spanning several diverse genres. Among them are The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s production of Macbeth, a British comedy; A Piece of my Heart, a drama about Vietnam nurses; The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, a musical and Almost, Maine, a romantic comedy.

     For fans the CPHS winter musical White Christmas, this year’s Black Box Musical is the show to see. This is the debut show for the newly created musical theatre class. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, written by William Finn, tells the story of six students competing to win the spelling bee championship. They also learn that “winning isn’t everything and losing doesn’t necessarily make you a loser.” The musical opened on Broadway in 2005 and won two Tony awards including Best Book of a Musical. Jerry Blake, theatre director, says the musical’s production is a largely student-run process.

     “We take the students through the entire process: royalties, contracts and choreography,” Blake said. “The students have invested their energy and time, and the audience can expect to see good quality work.”

     Shirley Lauro’s A Piece of my Heart is a more serious and thought-provoking drama.  The show tells the story of six women who journey to Vietnam with fresh optimism and soon find the war to be something very different from what they expected. The play opened in 2006 to rave reviews and has been hailed by critics as “the nation’s most enduring theatrical production that deals with [Vietnam].” Not only do students perform in the plays, they direct them as well. Jeff Labaume, senior, is directing the show performed by the productions class. Student directors choose a play, cast the show and work with the actors on lines and blocking. “I wanted to become a student director because that’s what I want to pursue,” Labaume said. “Directing A Piece of my Heart has been one of the most helpful experiences.”

     Britney Wilkinson, freshman, plays intelligence officer B.J. Steele in the production and believes that the play is very powerful and can have a strong influence on audiences.

     “It’s a really moving show,” Wilkinson said. “It has an insight to what the women of the Vietnam War went through that most people never think about. I think that it can really impact someone’s life and give them a new perspective on war and those who serve in the American armed services.”

     The UIL class recently competed with this year’s One-Act play, Getting and Spending, but is also performing a romantic comedy this spring. The box-office smash, Almost, Maine, written by John Cariani, is the story of the citizens of Almost who fall in and out of love with hilarious results.

     “Almost, Maine has been really fun to work on because we’ve gotten to be really independent with it,” Chelsea Hollenbeck, junior, said. “We’re all really excited to perform the finished play for everyone, and we want to make sure it’s the best it can be.”

     The final show being performed this year is The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of Macbeth. The comedic play, written by David McGillivray and Walter Zerlin Jr., chronicles the Society’s attempt to advance their production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth to the prestigious Welwyn Garden City Finals and the hilarious obstacles they encounter along the way. Seniors in the cast will perform for the last time at CPHS. Kat Colvin, senior, is performing her final acting role as the forgetful actress Minnie, in Farndale and working her last show as tech crew member in Spelling Bee.

     “I’m sad about it but I’m glad my last play is funny and that I get to be a techie one more time,” Colvin said. “Plus I get to do it all with cool people so it’s a good goodbye.”

     The plays will be performed in the Black Box throughout May. A Piece of my Heart was performed May 7 and 8, and Almost, Maine May 12 and 18. Farndale was shown May 14 and 15 but will have two additional performances May 27 and 28. Spelling Bee will be performed May 21 at 7:00 pm and May 23 at 2:00 and 7:00 pm. Tickets for all performances cost five dollars except Spelling Bee tickets which will go for eight dollars. The spring productions showcase CPHS’s talent and we wish all the aspiring actors, directors and crew members to “break a leg!”