Question: What can you tell us about your current production, “The Secret Garden”?
Answer: The Secret Garden, book by Marsha Norman, music by Lucy Simon, based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, published in 1911.
Q: When will it be shown?
A: Our show dates are March 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, with a 7:00 pm curtain.
Q: How many actors?
A: We have a cast of 53 students (at last count), around 8 backstage hands, 4 dancers, 22 pit orchestra players, and 18 set construction.
Q: How many people does it take to put on a play?
A: It depends on the show, really. One can do a show with as few as two people if needed, but a production on this scale really benefits from having many specialists dedicated to particular jobs. We have students who specialize in flying scenery in and out (often a hazardous task when actors are entering and exiting), others in moving our floor-based scenery on and off, one who is dedicated to running our complicated sound system, another to operate our lighting system – and those are just a handful of the students who contribute to the show offstage. The “central nervous system” is actually our stage manager, Kylie Calzaretta, and her assistant Alex (Beiber). They call the cues for the show and make sure that the cast and crew execute the show exactly as I directed it every single time.
Q: Can you provide a list of characters/actors?
A: Micah Wise – Archibald Craven: Wealthy landowner whose wife died in childbirth. Is haunted by her memory.
Alana Moffett – Mary Lennox: Parents died in a cholera epidemic in Colonial India, sent to live with her uncle Archibald.
Jason Hamann – Dr. Neville Craven: Archie’s younger brother, cares for Colin, pines for Lily.
Haley Sawyer – Lily Craven: Deceased wife of Archie, mother to Colin, aunt to Mary. A ghost.
Max Whittle – Dickon: Healer and naturalist, a native of the moors, brother to Martha, the housemaid.
Danielle Neblock – Martha: housemaid and Mary’s confidante.
|From left, Maddie Stevenson, and Alana Moffett.
|The lead actors in “The Secret Garden.”
Q: Do you have to seek funds to produce a play? Or does the school provide?
A: The students pay fees into the ASB funds that are placed into our department budget, but this makes up a very small portion of the budget a musical requires. Our primary source of support comes from ticket sales. In that sense, we are largely self- sufficient. We are very fortunate to live in a community that gives incredible support to both the school at large and our program. I am very glad for the opportunity to return the gesture by giving the community a great school theatre program.
“The Secret Garden” Has Loads of Talent
Q: Who are the talents that stand out right now at CHS?
A: Haley Sawyer has one of the best sopranos I have heard in a long time. I don’t think there was any question when I heard her sing as whom I would cast her. She is a great actress as well, and a peach to work with. Micah Wise is also a standout. It’s rare to have young men who commit completely to any emotionally turbulent role, and Micah has done so with grace and remarkable power for a performer his age. Jason Hamann is another whose passion really lights up in his solos. We have many great voices in the show; Austin Miller (a freshman) as Mary’s father Albert, Sarah Brizek as Mary’s Mother, Dani Neblock as Martha – these are some powerhouse vocalists who will knock you out of your seat. There is a quartet with Micah, Haley, Sarah, and Jason that is simply awesome. Some of the best vocal performance I have had the pleasure of watching.
|Edie Myers-Power and Griffin King rehearse.
Q: How long have you done this?
A: I have been involved in theatre since I was 10. My first play was Fiddler on the Roof, and I played a little jewish boy. Nothing major, but I held the canopy for the wedding of Motel and Tzeitel. My corner of the canopy tore off mid-scene, and the rabbi caught it and handed it to me. All I could do was stretch as high as I could and hold it up so the audience could see the wedding. Tzeitel was about 6 feet tall, by the way. Motel was a modest 5’7″. I was much shorter. I knew at that moment that I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. I have been lucky enough that that has been true. I have performed over 70 shows, and have been involved in many more. I still consider myself a newbie at directing, lighting design, and scene design, but I’m studying and I get a lot of practice! I have been teaching in the area for three years, and have directed three plays in the Evergreen School District, and designed lights, sound, and set for another. I am incredibly lucky to have found a home here in Camas, and it is my hope to continue the tradition of great theatre at Camas High School.
Q: How much do the students get involved in the production aspects?
A: The actors are required to attend six hours of set construction time on our Saturday work parties. This amounts to one day of drilling, hammering, painting, and sculpting – in reality, the kids attend many more than six hours. They truly enjoy the work, and they are developing great skills including tool and shop safety, sculpting, carpentry, scenic painting, team leadership, self-discipline, communication, and – dare I say it – practical math skills, most commonly geometry and trigonometry (though I go easy on the trig, to be honest). I have had to teach students how to calculate and build an octagonal platform, numerous triangular shapes, circles, arches, etc. I also teach a stagecraft class where we construct the sets for our shows.
Q: How do you decide what play to perform?
A: I look for good stories that move me at a particular moment. I chose Catch-22 for our fall play because it was my favorite book in high school. It turned out that it resonated with current events in unexpected ways. It was originally not intended to be political in nature, so I tried to steer clear of its reputation and focus on the story. I think that worked for us. The Secret Garden was more personal. After some unexpected diversions in our selection process this year, I found myself approaching a deadline without a musical.
This was on a short list of favored choices. It turns out that it was the last play my mother performed with my little brother before he was killed in action in Iraq in 2004. The themes of the play deal with loss and regeneration, healing, hope, redemption — all themes that touched on that loss. I began to see my family and our struggle after that loss. I wanted to send my parents a love letter for all the support they have shown me over the years – the last few in particular – and to recognize their struggle in dealing with a loss so devastating. But I also wanted to celebrate the healing power of love and hope. I loved the novel as a youth, and it always affected me deeply. I also polled my advanced drama class, and this was one of their favorites. It was a perfect fit for my first year at CHS.
|From left, Micah Wise and Jason Hamann.