Arts & Entertainment

From ‘Music Man’ to ‘Mockingbird,’ Local High Schools to Stage Spring Plays

After weeks of hard work on and off the stage, local high school theaters are ready to open their curtains to the public. The schools will offer family friendly plays during April and May.

After weeks of hard work on and off the stage, local high school theaters are ready to open their curtains to the public. The schools will offer family friendly plays during April and May.

The first play to premiere is George C. Marshall’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” on April 1, followed by J.E.B. Stuart’s “The Music Man” and McLean’s “Into the Woods.” Both open April 7.

Falls Church High School premieres “Harvey” April 28, and George Mason High School closes the season with “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which opens May 12.

From classic comedy to darker plays, young talents from these high schools are ready to entertain.

earnestMarshall High School

Marshall Theater’s spring performance is Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest.”

The comedy is built around two men, Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, and tells the story of their double lives and their use of the fake name “Ernest.”

“This is a story about someone who doesn’t know who they are,” Theater Director Trena Weiss-Null said. “The characters are very rich and the language is delicious.”

“This play has been done steadily for the past 115 years and it’s extremely intelligent, yet it’s really good for a general audience,” Weiss-Null said, singing Wilde’s praises. “Everybody is going to have a good time watching it.”

Marshall Theater, winners of VHSL and Cappie performance awards, started working on the play four weeks ago, including casting, working on the set, and rehearsing.

“They are very serious students,” Weiss-Null said of her cast. “When they attack the script the way professionals attack it, they really understand it. My cast has managed to incorporate a fair amount of physicality which is going to make the difference.”

Aside of the cast, the set itself is also a highlight of the play.

“People are going to be amazed when they see it,” Weiss-Null said.

The set, which Weiss-Null says was a challenge to put together, uses the same walls to create three different interiors and one external ambient. The crew had to go to dollar stores to find the best deals, and ask for donations to acquire enough material to compose the sets.

“I’m very proud of it,” Weiss-Null said. “There is a lot of electrical stuff, and we can’t wire permanently because it has to move. Electricity that looks like real fire is a little tricky.”

The performances will take place on April 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at or at the door. They are $10 for adult and $8 for students and seniors. George C. Marshall High School is located at 7731 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church. For information, call 703-714-5450.

J.E.B. Stuart High School

Stuart High brings music and entertainment for all ages with the musical “The Music Man.”

“It’s a warm, lively, upbeat, energetic show with young actors who are passionate and excited to bring energy of their own,” Technical Director Shannon Lynch said.

The musical tells the story of Harold Hill. Hill arrives in a small town of River City, Iowa, wanting to create a boys’ band for the town, knowing nothing about music, and escape with the city’s money. The story turns around when Marian, the librarian, comes into the picture and they fall in love.

“There are strong characters in this play,” said Director Emi Eiting, who said the group chose the musical, which demands a large cast and strong singers, to showcase the school’s talented performers and “grow the program.”

Being a relative small school, J.E.B. Stuart had to reach out for the community for support. Students from Glasgow Middle School are participating in the play, and parents have been involved in the process of helping out students to put together the set and costumes. While parents provide support when necessary, the students are doing the bulk work.

“Doing something like this is very time consuming, and it’s a big commitment,” Eiting said. “It takes a while, but they have been working hard.”

“The Music Man” performances are April 7, 8, 9 and 15 at 7 p.m. and April 16 at 2:15 p.m. The play will take place at the J.E.B. Stuart Auditorium, 3301 Peace Valley Lane, Falls Church. Tickets are $8 for students and $10 for adults. For more information, call 703-824-3900.

intowoodsMcLean High School

McLean High brings a dark side to the stage with the Tony Award-winning show “Into the Woods.”

“It’s a challenging piece and we really like that part about it,” McLean High School Theatre Director Amy Poe said. “We like the darker scenes. It’s a huge cast and we can get a lot of kids involved.”

The musical combines the fairy tales of Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel and Cinderella in one story.

“It combines the well-known fairy tales, and ties them together on a journey,” Poe said. “They meet characters along the way, but they are a little bit different.”

Poe is directing the show with Linda Martin, McLean’s coral director. It’ the first time the theater and coral departments have worked together on one piece.

“The music is the backbone of this play,” Poe said. “We have amazing solos, amazing songs. It’s breathtaking and gives the students good opportunities to use their singing capabilities.”

The public can meet with the cast and the crew before the show’s opening April 7 at 6 p.m., a new tradition for the school.

The performances will take place at McLean High School’s Burke Theater on April 7 and 8 at 7:30 p.m. and April 9 at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10. McLean High is located at 1633 Davidson Road, McLean. For more information, call 703-714-5821.

Falls Church High School

The Falls Church High School is bringing “Harvey” by Mary Chase to the stage this spring. The Broadway show is about Elwood P. Dowd and his friend, a 6′ 3 1/2″ imaginary rabbit.

“The public can expect a very funny show,” Assistant Director Brennan Jones said. “It’s a modernized version of the classic show, something they haven’t seen before.”

Veta, Elwood’s sister, thinks her brother lost his mind because he sees a “pooka” – a mischievous Irish spirit – named Harvey. Veta is trying to find a husband for her daughter, Myrtle, but Elwood’s insanity is making things difficult for her. Although Veta also occasionally sees Harvey, she takes Elwood to a mental institute, which admits her by mistake.

Sam Johnson, recipient of the best actor in the national district award, plays Elwood and Betsy Ryan plays Veta. The actors had to learn how to act with an imaginary character, while the crew worked on tricks to make the rabbit look real on stage.

“One of the biggest challenges was that all the actors have to pretend to see a rabbit on stage,” Director Leanne O’Neill said. “It’s an imaginary cast member. They have to remember where he is standing, and give the illusion to keep him in the room, even if he is not.”

The show uses light and some tricks to create the illusion the rabbit exists.

Although the play was adapted to modern times, Elwood carries the same message as always: Life needs to be appreciated.

“Elwood reminds us of how precious life is, and how we should savor each moment,” O’Neill said.

Harvey will be performed at Falls Church High School from April 28 – 30 at 7:30 p.m. There will be a matinee on April 30 at 3 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online in advance for $6, for $5 during student lunches, and for $8 at the door. For more information, visit or call 703-207-4059.

George Mason High School

Mason High travels back to Alabama in 1935 with the play “‘To Kill a Mockingbird” based on Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Harper Lee.

“It has never been done before at George Mason and it is a strong piece of classic literature with an important social message,” Co-Director Pam Spicer said.

The play is based on the novel, using the book’s character, Scout. played by Emma Pierce, to narrate the story 30 years after it takes place.

“It tries to communicate the important concept of ‘walking a mile in another’s shoes’ before judging him,” Spicer said. “And it makes it clear that it is important to fight for justice even if you know you cannot win, and that the path to social change is gradual.”

The narrator is involved with the civil rights movement in the 1960s, and tells the public her father’s story. Her need and passion to fight for justice for all people came from her dad, Atticus Finch, played by Bryan Ward

“We intend to add a multi-media opening sequence that carries the audience through the decades of civil rights progress,” Spicer said. “The cast is very large and will include students of all grades including some first-time performers.”

“The play is a true ensemble piece, with all the actors having to work together and depending on one another to create the mood and climate of the time and to communicate the important themes,” Spicer said.

Spicer is directing the play with Yael Urbach, Zoe Goodwin and Sarah Johnson.

John Ballou, technical director, is working with the stage crew to recreate an Alabama neighborhood. The set will have the front porches of five homes, a full-sized realistic tree, and the interior of a packed courthouse, according to Spicer.

“George Mason’s sets are always spectacular and filled with realistic detail of time and place,” Spicer said.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” is scheduled for May 12, 13 and 14 in the George Mason Auditorium. For more information, call 703-248-5500.