You feel the warmth of the spotlight on your face as you feel the audience’s eyes fall on you. Your voice lls every corner of the dark room that you see before you. Then you suddenly realize that there are no lights shining, no stage to stand on and no auditorium filled with people watching. Just your peers are there in a classroom as your stage and your experiences to carry you.
This is what the students in the Advanced Acting course experience on a daily basis. They take the skills and experiences that they have from being on and off the stage and apply it to this course in hopes of expanding upon what they already know.
“I want to allow people to grow right where they are and still have success,” said theater director and teacher Cathy Swain-Abrams. “I want them to grow and not have someone else decide things.”
Different from past years, this completely student-run course gets to choose a play or musical that they wish to perform, while they then have to run the entire production. After many suggestions, the class decided on
a show that they had seen at the All State Theatre Conference last year.
“We are performing ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,’ senior Dominic Fleshman said. “The
musical is about a group of elementary school students competing in the 25th annual Putnam County spelling bee.”
The particular musical consists of a small cast of characters that slowly develop as the spelling competition plays out. With so few characters, each student received a main part in the musical and some were required to double up on parts.
“It hasn’t affected rehearsal yet, as we’ve been learning, but soon we will be running through the show with one cast at a time,” Fleshman said.
Different actors play each character each night. This results in the audience seeing multiple versions of the characters and experiencing a different show depending on who is acting. Another aspect that makes the musical unique is the amount of improv that the actors have to do.
“By doing improv it makes it more than just looking at the stage and seeing something happen,” junior Ryleigh Buckingham said.
The improv done by the actors not only keeps their fellow students on edge but the audience as well for it never knows what may happen next, especially if the cast starts to interact with the audience as well. The actors and Abrams have said that there may be some interaction between audience
and cast where they may be asked to join the characters in the competition.
“For audience participation, you may want to take a quick look at the old dictionary before coming to the show,” Fleshman said.
With performance dates on Friday, Dec. 16 and Saturday, Dec. 17 at 7 pm, there is a lot of time for the students to finalize the production but also a lot of work left to be done. However, they are all very excited to share all of the hard work they have put in but also showcase their personal skills in a new way.
“After-school theater gives less ownership to students, but this allows them to have more control and collaborate together,” Swain-Abrams said.