...and they will tell you I am a huge fan of Broadway productions. And for years I had season tickets for the Broadway Across America series. I stopped going when the plays began to repeat, or were ones in which I did not have a particular interest.
Then, a friend of mine started taking drama in middle school and she invited me to attend some of the plays her class was producing. I excitedly accepted. I was blown away to discover great amateur talent in my community. These kids were fantastic. One of the plays was the musical Oklahoma...really...middle school students presenting a musical...it was great...ambitious, you bet, in over their heads, not a bit. Their production was every bit as good as if it had been presented by a Broadway Across America cast.
Guess what? New School, New amateur actors, New musical, I got to see another production yesterday. This one presented by the Regis High School Student Center in Stayton, Oregon. Oh my goodness, once more I was totally blown away. The name of the production was "Back to the 80's...The Totally Awesome Musical." These kids sang their hearts out, while the plot delightfully, whimsically, light-heartedly, led us through a senior class year from the decade of the eighties. I laughed, and...I cried...I was overjoyed to see the youth of today pour their hearts and souls into a project simply to delight their audience and community. It was an amazing afternoon.
Sadly, not many people, except for families of the cast, school students, and perhaps anyone who might have heard 'word of mouth'; these exceptional productions come and go without notice. What a terrible injustice...what a terrible loss. I'm certainly not a critic by any means, but if I were I would say.
If you every get the opportunity support your local school drama department, by all means go watch a group of very talented young people preform a professional grade production on a minimal budget, limited costume department, and stage crew that will scamper around with the ease of any I have seen work with a Broadway Across America crew.
I guarantee, a School Amateur Production will present any audience with the opportunity to see budding thespians at the beginning of their careers, for it is obvious any one of them could easily become a star of tomorrow shining brightly on Broadway NYC. Nowhere will you find a more impassioned group of young people eager to please a group of strangers, silhouettes, just beyond the spotlights of the stage. Even though stage fright probably is an affliction they all possess, they preform with great aplomb through perhaps a mistake in dialogue, or a missed cue here and there; trust me, you will not care, for you will be caught up in the mystery that is theater.
Finally, here's the best part of local productions...chances are you will know at least one person in the cast or crew, as in my friend at the local middle school. So it was yesterday, when I got to watch my granddaughter in her deput as an actress. She danced, she sang, and even had a speaking part. I was so, so, so proud.
Well done, Hannah Koellmann, well done. And for the next performances...break a leg, kiddo.
The Regis High School will have performances during the rest of this week. March 14, 15, 16...if you have the chance to see this production, I guarantee you will not be disappointed.