Arts & Entertainment

Stuart H.S. Kicks Off Fall Drama Slate With ‘Blithe Spirit’ Thursday

As the leaves transform, so too do high school stages across the Northern Virginia area in preparation for fall plays. Local theater departments will bring a variety of shows to the stage to delight their audiences, the product of the hard work and time invested by many students. Many of the plays brings to the table some type of comedy, be it a dark humor comedy about a ghost that just won’t give up or a nostalgic ’80s blast from the past musical. Students have worked hard, past obstacles that range from the expected to the unexpected (like Superstorm Sandy) to put on the following productions:


J.E.B. Stuart High School’s run of Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit” begins Thursday. The comedic play centers on a writer, Charles Condomine, and his second wife, Ruth, whose lives are turned upside down by the return of his first wife’s ghost.

Shannon Lynch, teacher and theater director, has been working with students to produce a dark comedy that will display the madness that unfolds when a man has to deal with his wives – both dead and alive. With the use of accents, Lynch’s cast will be bringing the play’s 1940s London setting to life.

“This is the first time I have asked all the actors play with dialect – in this case, a British dialect. This is an advanced skill to ask of young actors, and there will be a few interesting interpretations of a proper English dialect, but the adventure is what makes my student actors commit to the play,” Lynch said. “In my opinion, commitment and adventure guarantee a night of entertaining theatre.”

“Blithe Spirit” runs November 8, 9, 10 16 and 17 at 7 p.m. The play will be performed at J.E.B. Stuart High School, 3301 Peace Valley Lane, Falls Church. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors. For more information, visit or call 703-824-3900.


George Mason High School will put on “Xanadu,” a Broadway musical based on the cult classic 80s flick starring Olivia Newton-John, next weekend. “Xanadu” follows Clio, a Greek muse disguised as an Australian roller skater, who inspires Sonny, an artist contemplating suicide, to create roller disco.

“Xanadu” is a parody of the original movie, with enough ’80s pop music and roller-skating scenes to evoke nostalgia and hilarity. Mason High will be the first school in the area to stage “Xanadu,” and they’ve put a unique twist on casting. Instead of doubling actors up like in the Broadway musical, more roles have been given to other students. With a cast of 35, the decision allows for more student involvement in the play.

Shawn Northrip, theater director and teacher at George Mason, has been pleased with how well the play is coming together through the acting, staging, and musical performances. Northrip gives a lot of the credit to Daria Butler, a student who has been in charge of choreography.

“Her work makes me look better as a director. She really will be the one who deserves the accolades when this show is successful,” Northrip says. “I cannot image what the piece would have been without her creativity.”

“Xanadu” runs Nov. 15 – 17 at 7:30 p.m. The play will be performed at George Mason High School, 7124 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students. For more information, call 703-248-5500 or visit


Next month, Falls Church High School will stage the romantic comedy “Almost, Maine.” Things get a little wacky in the mythical town of Almost, Maine when on one moonless Friday night, the residents of Almost find themselves falling in and out of love in unexpected and hilarious ways.

The play is divided into nine short plays that go through the love and loss of the people of Almost. Theater Director Valerie Karasek describes the play as an engaging, heartwarming, and contemporary version of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

“Each vignette takes place in the same small town at exactly the same time, 9 p.m. Yet each relationship, conflict, and outcome is unique. The stars appear romantically aligned for some, but not for others,” Karasek said. “Epiphanies and metaphors abound as the audience serves as silent witness to the many facets of love.”

“Almost, Maine” runs Dec. 6 – 8 at 7 p.m. The play will be performed at Falls Church High School, 7521 Jaguar Trail, Falls Church. Tickets are $5 in advance and $8 at the door. For more information, call 703-207-4000 visit


McLean High School will perform “Les Miserables,” a musical that follows the struggles and adversities of Jean Valjean in 19th century France. Once a thief that stole bread, Jean Valjean becomes an honest man, a loving father to his adopted daughter and a mayor to a prosperous town, all of which had been done while violating his parole. He now struggles to choose between integrity or self-preservation all while the French Revolution leads the characters through tumultuous times.

Thought Theater Director Amy Poe had not originally planned to stage the production right before the release of a highly anticipated cinematic take on “Les Miserables” starring Anne Hathaway, she hopes that it will help with ticket sales.

The musical’s 80 student actors and 20 stage crew members will be using the 25th anniversary set-up for “Les Miserables,” which uses no turning sets and makes use of designs by author Victor Hugo.

“The striking visuals will give the audience something new to look at,” Poe said. “Even if you’ve seen ‘Les Mis’ a hundred times, there will something in our production that will be fresh and diverse.”

“Les Miserables” will run December 6 – 8 at 7 p.m., with a matinee on Dec. 8 at 2:30 p.m. The play will be performed at McLean High School, 1633 Davidson Road, McLean. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors. For more information, call 703-714-5700 or visit

George C. Marshall High School presented “The Arabian Nights” last weeked. Marshall Theatre declined to participate in the News-Press’ fall play previews.