Arts & Entertainment

Local Schools Get Ready for the Spring Theater Season

Justin Valentino, star of George Mason High School’s production of “Bourgeois Gentleman,” rehearses with Peter Carr in the image above.  The play, written by Moliere, pokes fun of social climbing in 17th century Paris. Mason’s production at the play opens tonight. (Photo: Courtesy of Anna Connole)
Justin Valentino, star of George Mason High School’s production of “Bourgeois Gentleman,” rehearses with Peter Carr. The play, written by Moliere, pokes fun of social climbing in 17th century Paris. Mason’s production at the play opens tonight. (Photo: Courtesy of Anna Connole)

by Liz Lizama

While McLean High School already kicked off the spring theater season with “The Laramie Project” earlier this month, George Mason, J.E.B. Stuart, Falls Church and George C. Marshall high schools are ready to showcase their talent with a range of genres over the course of the next week.

George Mason High School and J.E.B Stuart High School premier their productions this week of “Bourgeois Gentleman” and “The 39 Steps.” Next week, Falls Church High School’s production of “The Giver,” and George C. Marshall High School’s “Young Frankenstein” will close the high school spring theater season.

George Mason High School

With a satirical play like Moliere’s “Bourgeois Gentleman” poking fun at social climbing in 17th century Paris, George Mason High School’s theater department looks to bring a light but entertaining production to stage.

“It’s not very deep or emotional, but it’s a laugh a minute,” said director Shawn Northrip. “Isn’t that just as cathartic?”

The show follows the journey of a wealthy merchant, Monsieur Jourdain, played by Justin Valentino. In Jourdain’s quest to become an aristocrat, he purchases the most fashionable clothing and hires a tutor to learn the art of becoming a gentleman.

Northrip said he chose this show to reinforce material students are learning in theater class. His students are studying classic plays and discussed specific elements which “Bourgeois Gentleman” utilizes.

“Also, it’s just a ludicrous and fun play to do,” he said of the choice. “There’s lots of room to just cut loose and have a good time with it.”

Northrip said his vision evolves while working with the cast. “It’s a collaboration in the room, a process of discovery,” he said. “I try not to be too fixed in what I want and instead try to create an opportunity for students to explore and express themselves artistically.”

“Bourgeois Gentleman” runs April 23-25. Performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. The play will be performed at George Mason High School, 7124 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $5 for students. For more information, visit fccps.org/gm or call 703-248-5500.

J.E.B. Stuart High School

After bringing a more serious play last year, J.E.B. Stuart High School theater director Morganne Davies decided on the 2013 Tony Award-winning “The 39 Steps” for this year’s spring production.

“I wanted to lighten up the season and bring in lots of audiences, so I picked a play that was popular,” Davies said of the selection. “It has a lot of fun and can incorporate a large cast of students.”

Davies is especially proud of the students’ acting performance. “For the first time in my teaching experience, I’ve really had a cast that has brought in a lot of acting choices without me having to give much direction,” she said. “They have really taken ownership of creating multiple, really full, well-rounded characters.”

Based on a suspenseful Alfred Hitchcock film and John Buchan novel, Patrick Barlow’s stage adaption is a comedic twist to the thriller. “I look at this production as a homage to the golden age of cinema,” said Davies. “We’ve collaborated with our IB film classes, so we’re merging projections with live action on stage as well as commissioning them to do some short films inspired by Hitchcock’s style.”

The play follows the main character from London through Scotland but rather than build multiple sets, the production will incorporate film sequences including a helicopter crash and marching band. Davies said the cast is normally comprised of four but Stuart’s cast consists of 17 actors plus 50 IB film students and 10 crew members.

“The 39 Steps” runs April 23 – May 2. Performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. The play will be performed at J.E.B. Stuart High School, 3301 Peace Valley Lane, Falls Church. Tickets are $12 for general admission and $10 for students and seniors with a special pay what you can on opening night. For more information, visit stuartdrama.org or call 703-824-3900.

Lead character Jonas, played by Bailey Singer, talks to his little sister Lily, played by Danielle Phan, after being selected as the Receiver of Memories in a rehearsal for Falls Church High School’s production of “The Giver.” (Photo: Liz Lizama/News Press)
Lead character Jonas, played by Bailey Singer, talks to his little sister Lily, played by Danielle Phan, after being selected as the Receiver of Memories in a rehearsal for Falls Church High School’s production of “The Giver.” (Photo: Liz Lizama/News Press)

by Liz Lizama

Falls Church High School

Falls Church High School will close out their theater season this year with Eric Coble’s stage adaption of “The Giver,” originally a novel by Lois Lowry. The play gives audiences a look into a utopian society where one is assigned a role in the community based on their talent when they reach the age of 12.

Bailey Singer plays the leading character, Jonas, who is chosen as the Receiver of Memories and undergoes special training from The Giver, played by Mark Zubaly. The story follows Jonas as he sees beyond the colorless limits of his world.

Director Beth DeMarco said she decided to bring the mostly black and white play to encourage students to participate in the technical side of theater. “I’m attempting to build a program and this is a tech heavy show,” she said. “I’ve chosen to stage it in the style of film noir (black and white) and introducing color as the main character, Jonas, sees it more and more throughout the play. There is the snow effect and lots of room for creativity in sound, lights and makeup.”

DeMarco said she also wanted students to explore the theme of “seeing beyond” and having the option of making choices. “Students have many choices made for them, but as they head to college, they will be put in situations where they will have to make their own choices,” she said. “I think it’s okay to live in a state of suffering as long as it informs one’s life for the better. As I’ve gotten to know my students at FCHS, I think this theme is one they can relate to.”

“The Giver” runs April 30 – May 2. Performances are scheduled for 7 p.m. with a special 2 p.m. matinee on May 2. The play will be performed at Falls Church High School, 7521 Jaguar Trail, Falls Church. Tickets are $8 for general admission and $5 for students and teachers. For more information, visit fchsdrama.org or call 703-207-4059.

George C. Marshall High School

George C. Marshall High School will bring “The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein”, a musical adaptation of the 1974 movie, to stage next week.

The play takes audiences to Transylvania as Dr. Frederick Von Frankenstein discovers his grandfather’s laboratory and carries on experiments to fulfill his family’s legacy. Joined by a zany group of characters, he finds success with unexpected consequences along the way.

“Young Frankenstein” runs April 30 – May 3. Performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 30; Friday, May 1; and Saturday, May 2 – with 2 p.m. matinees on Saturday, May 2 and Sunday, May 3.

The play will be performed at George C. Marshall High School, 7731 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church. Tickets are $15 for general admission and $10 for students and seniors. For more information, visit statesmentheatre.org or call 703-714-5400.

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