Arts & Entertainment

The Curtain Opens on Local High School Spring Plays

The crowd watches on as Prince Topher, played by Christophe Jelinski, meets Ella, played by Syd Kirk, during McLean High School’s production of Cinderella. (Photo: Courtesy of Douglas Rome)
The crowd watches on as Prince Topher, played by Christophe Jelinski, meets Ella, played by Syd Kirk, during McLean High School’s production of Cinderella. (Photo: Courtesy of Douglas Rome)

Musicals, hip-hop, a Shakespeare spoof and drama are set to open at local high schools this weekend and continue through the first weekend in May, and two, “Cinderella” and “Loserville,” are area premieres!

Where do I buy tickets?

McLean High School will present the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Cinderella” complete with a pumpkin carriage (led by a fox and raccoon), glorious ball gowns and the always popular wedding dress, according to the school’s theatre director and “Cinderella’s” producer, Chip Rome.

Because the high school has a dearth of tenors, the theater department searched for a play with a baritone lead and found “Cinderella.” The department was surprised when it received Broadway’s approval to do the show which it granted if the school agreed not to use the title in its promotions which it did, and it hasn’t. The national show is touring the U.S.
Phil Reid is directing “Cinderella” which has 40 crew members, a cast of 27 and an orchestra of 22 students and four adults. “It’s marvelous when they all sing together,” Rome said.

Back in December when student Jess Scarano heard McLean might put on the show, she revved up the sewing machines, and with a crew, is making between 35 and 50 costumes, some which began as prom dresses.

“My classroom after hours becomes a working zone,” Rome said. “Right now it is has two sewing machines and fabric all over the floor.”

The Kirk triplet sisters all have roles in the play: Syd is Cinderella, Phoebe is the stage manager, and Bryn, assists on the crew and with makeup. Christophe Jelinski is the prince.

Falls Church High will present Lillian Hellman’s classic, “The Children’s Hour,” set at a girls’ boarding school in the 1930s when a student targets two teachers. It’s about bullying and “a world of lies which create a devasting situation,” said Beth DeMarco, the school’s theatre director.

The story is “still compelling today,” given the sometimes negative effects of social media “and how destructive it can be,” DeMarco said.

Because of mature themes, “The Children’s Hour” is recommended for ages 14 and up.

THE CAST OF MARSHALL HIGH SCHOOL’S “Loserville,” rehearse for the production. (Photo: Courtesy of Jason Tamborini)
THE CAST OF MARSHALL HIGH SCHOOL’S “Loserville,” rehearse for the production. (Photo: Courtesy of Jason Tamborini)

“Loserville” geeks and dorks will meet the jocks in the 1970s electric pop-rock comedy at George Marshall High School, another area premiere, according to Jason Tamborini, theatre director.

The play is considered the “‘Grease’ for the modern era,” Tamborini said, and is about “the dawning of the Internet age.” The play is based on the music of the British pop punk band, Son of Dork.

The cast of 30 will be accompanied by professional musicians, hired because “it’s a very difficult piece to play.”

“Loserville” can be “a little cheesy at times, in a good way. It’s a fun ride,” Tamborini said. “The kids have really been putting their hearts in this.” And for the first time, Marshall will stage it over two weekends.

The talented Sarah Boyle, a Marshall senior, is once again in charge of costuming.

George Mason High School’s theatre director Shawn Northrip said “Bomb-Itty of Errors” is a hip hop comedy, based on William Shakespeare’s “Comedy of Errors.”

“This is not a musical,” Northrip said. “From beginning to end, it’s hip-hop which [in rehearsals] gets easier every day. It’s very modern, which the students love.”

Thirty are in the cast, joined by three musicians. Northrip rates it PG-13. “There is no bad language,” but the jokes may not be understood by young children.

Directing the musical, “The Secret Garden,” at J.E.B. Stuart High School is Emi Eiting, who was on a spring break theatre tour last week in New York City with 120 students. (That may be worthy of its own play.)

Julie Wharton, Stuart’s drama director who stayed at home to mind shop, was happy to talk about “Secret Garden” which is “very British,” set in Victorian times, around the turn of the last century.

Anyone who has read the book can recall Mary, a young girl who comes to live with her uncle in his mansion after her parents have died of cholera in India. The uncle’s wife has also died, and he is suffering from depression.

A small orchestra, a crew of ten or so, and cast of 25 blend to make “new and different” music, “very beautiful with solos, duets, and quartets,” Wharton said.

Most of the costumes are borrowed. Simple sets with “lots of short scenes” in Mary’s bedroom, the train, a mansion, and a garden, no doubt, are some of the visuals.

Several of the high school shows will be entries in the Cappies’ competition, a critics’ group of about 60 high schoolers who train, attend, write, and publish reviews. Ticket demands for certain nights will be higher than usual.

Let them begin!