Arts & Entertainment

Musicals and More: F.C. Schools Stage Spring Plays

As Falls Church bids farewell to the final days of winter and begins to usher in spring, local high schools will be putting on shows of varying genres that will give audience members an escape from their everyday routine. From a “musical within a comedy” to a lyrical retelling of classic stories, a period piece that captures the heart of a film genre to a heavy performance that encourages audiences to reevaluate prejudice, the performances this spring will be a testament to the hard work put in by the theater department and cast and crew of each high school.

J.E.B. Stuart High School

J.E.B. Stuart High School will retell the stories of classic Grimms’ Fairy Tales characters like Cinderella and Jack from “Jack and the Beanstalk,” along with a baker and his wife in the famous musical, “Into the Woods.” This Tony-winning musical combines well-known stories with modern twists – Cinderella’s desire to attend the king’s ball, Jack’s wish that his cow, ironically named Milky-white, would produce milk, and the Baker and his Wife’s wish to start a family together. As the plot progresses, each character’s story crosses with another under one larger tale that will engage audience members with familiar character archetypes and new surprises.

Shannon Lynch, theater director and teacher, said that this production has seen the largest number of student auditions from the band, choir, and theatre department for a musical at J.E.B. Stuart. She equates some of the production’s allure to the “exceptional and magical” music written by Stephen Sondheim. Lynch believes that the experience of working on “Into the Woods” won’t hit the cast and crew until the final curtain closes in May. She says the students bond and “support each other in unexpected ways” that help them to stay involved with the production throughout their own exhaustion, but, “it’s not until it’s over that they realize they gave a large piece of art to the public.”

“Into the Woods” runs April 26, 27, 28 and May 4 at 7 p.m. with a matinee May 5 at 2:15 p.m. The play will be performed at J.E.B. Stuart High School, 3301 Peace Valley Lane, Falls Church. Tickets are $8 for students and seniors, and $10 for adults. For more information, visit stuartdrama.org or call 703-824-3900.

Falls Church High School

fallschurchhighFalls Church High School will perform “No Crime Like the Present” for its spring production.

This murder mystery encompasses the film noir genre with a plot that is set in the ’70s. Luther Preston (Brennan Jones), an anchor at KDOA News Station, becomes the lead suspect in a crime case when his fellow anchor, Cassandra Dumont (Melanie Reuter) is murdered. Luther hires detective Mavis Davis (Betsy Ryan/Moriah Dreisbach) to find the killer and gather evidence that will clear him of the charges. Along with her partners, Slack (Boris Mewborn) and Bronski (Catherine Kiesel), the detective looks deeper into the crime, resulting in plot twists and surprises in her search for the truth.

Falls Church High drama teacher Brenda Scott had the opportunity to play the lead in “No Crime Like the Present” in a Texas community theatre. She said, “Directing the show, seeing it brought to life by a group of such talented high school students, and to have a second experience with such a unique production is a chance I have relished and enjoyed every minute of.” Scott said she is especially proud of the “chemistry and teamwork” that her students have demonstrated in putting together this production to make “an already great performance even more astounding.”

“No Crime Like the Present” runs April 26, 27 and 28 at 7:30 p.m., with a 3 p.m. matinee on April 28. The play will be performed at Falls Church High School, 7521 Jaguar Trail, Falls Church. Tickets are $8 at the door and $6 in advance. For more information, call 703-207-4000 or visit fchsdrama.org.

Marshall High School

marshallGeorge C. Marshall High School will be singing away the last chills of winter in the “musical within a comedy,” Tony award-winning show “The Drowsy Chaperone.” This musical comedy plays up the show-within-a-show concept by opening with a character called “The Man in Chair” who listens to a recording of the fictional comedy, “The Drowsy Chaperone.” The characters within the play appear on stage as the record plays out the story of a famous bride on her comedy-filled wedding day. The Man in Chair interjects his own commentary intermittently throughout the show amidst thugs dressed as pastry chefs and plot surprises at various turns.

Keith Conway, a member of the Marshall Theater Boosters, believes that the production of “The Drowsy Chaperone” is special, in part, because Mark Krikstan, a “legend” at Marshall, has returned to the high school to direct the show. In addition, Conway said that Marshall’s traditional old theater is set to be renovated soon. The students are experiencing a unique time in Marshall’s theater history as they will be one of the last big musical productions in the old theater before the renovations take place.

“It’s kind of the end of an era,” Conway said, “There’s a sense of loss among the students, but they’re aware that they get to be part of the way it was before the changes and the transition.”

“The Drowsy Chaperone” runs April 26, 27 and 28 at 7:30 p.m. with matinee performances at 2 p.m. on April 28 and 29. The play will be performed at Marshall High School, 7731 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church. Tickets can be purchased at the door and are $5 for students and seniors, and $10 for adults. For more information, call 703-714-5400.

George Mason High School

elephantmanGeorge Mason High School encourages audience members to evaluate prejudice and inner bias this spring through their play “The Elephant Man.”

Set in the late 1800s during London’s industrial revolution, Joseph Merrick (Sean Driggers), cruelly deemed The Elephant Man due to his severe bone disorder and physical deformities, is working as a side show act. He is rescued by the London Hospital surgeon Dr. Treves (Samuel Blagg).

“The play examines issues of people’s fear of the unknown and prejudices based on appearance as well as our intolerance of perceived imperfections of all kinds,” show producer and theater arts teacher Pamela Ricker said.

“The Elephant Man” is directed by George Mason seniors Bryan Ward and Rebecca Thackrey, and will be staged with “creative lighting, projections, and short animations to create the settings and communicate the themes,” Ricker said. The supporting ensemble along with the lead actors brings the cast of this dramatic tale to a 40-person count.

“This is a very intellectual, symbolic, and challenging script and the George Mason cast is more than up to the challenge of bringing it to life,” Ricker said.

John Ballou’s class along with the George Mason Technical Theater Crew will provide technical support for the show. Starring roles will be Sean Driggers as The Elephant Man, Samuel Blagg as Dr. Treves, Emma Pierce as Lady Gomm, Joseph Warren as Ross and Kikki Skotte as Mrs. Kendall.

Ricker is confident that with the “striking and impressive technical elements” in addition to the ensemble and cast, “The Elephant Man” will resonate with audience members to become “a memorable piece of theater.”

“The Elephant Man” runs May 3, 4 and 5 at 7:30 p.m. The play will be performed at George Mason High School, 7124 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church. For more information, call 703-248-5500.

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