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Theater in our Inter-Lakes schools is alive & well, witness 'Peter Pan'

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun,

As with almost every school program, there has to be a steady and continuous growth if success is to be achieved. At Inter-Lakes High School, drama, in particular, has had rather a long history of emphasis to introduction, of slight interest to increased interest, and of traditional effects to more advanced technological changes. The work of such former directors as Norma Marshall, Roger Blake, Caesar Meledandri, Kathy Holly, Cindy Reid and Patrick Kelly has never gone unheralded nor unnoticed. Their mission was always precise and clear: To encourage students to become involved in drama, and once involved, to be active participants.

Students, aspiring to become actors and actresses, gradually responded, initially perhaps to the one-act plays that were being performed competitively among the various high school classes. Statewide Drama Festivals piqued more student interest and surely became ideal places at which students could showcase their stage expertise and be judged professionally. I believe that Inter-Lakes High School did participate in a few of those festivals.

As teachers saw the renewed impetus in play production, many of them got involved. The Art Department and the Graphics Department stepped up to help with stage set design, and publicity and printing respectively. Other faculty members assisted with costumes, makeup, props and character development. Progress was perhaps a bit slow at times, but it was sure and real. Famous shows that had stood the test of time were being considered by those directors, formerly alluded to in this letter. Those shows had huge casts, demanding lead roles, challenging music, but the directors were optimistic. They persevered with their auditions, and many of these grand shows were eventually produced by the I-LHS Drama Club: "Don Quixote," "Guys and Dolls," "Oklahoma," "South Pacific," "Oliver," "Music Man," "Fiddler on the Roof," "Arsenic and Old Lace," "Steel Magnolias," "Bye Bye Birdie," "Annie Get Your Gun," and "Pinnochio" to name a few. Kudos were readily exchanged ... stage successes were acclaimed.

All that, dear readers, was then. This is now — when the outstanding performances of the ever-popular show "Peter Pan" wowed the audiences which filled the I-L Community Auditorium to capacity. .. and the very capable directorship of Ms. Kathleen Hill was recognized. A lady who really needs little introduction, she has been active in theater, especially in the Middle Tier, for a long time here in the district. In that capacity she has introduced many young students to the challenges and the pleasures of a stage experience. Plays that she chose for them were always appropriate for their age level and their acting promise. Their successes, as well as hers, were never unheralded.

Perhaps as early as 2013, Ms. Hill was debating about choosing "Peter Pan" as the musical for 2014. She knew its cast was huge, its lead roles demanding, its music challenging, and its technical effects varied and costly. Did those factors discourage her? Certainly not. They had little immediate effect on her, for she invested in the show, its books and music, and all of its challenges. Somehow, Ms. Hill must have known that "Peter Pan" would be a winner for her I-LHS and I-LMT Theater Companies.

Certainly to all of us who saw the show this past week and weekend, it was a total winner in every respect. Ms. Hill's choice to blend the various age groups was a phenomenal decision — a first-time decision in the extent to which it was done. Those young actors and actresses from both the Elementary School and the Junior High were not only cute, clever and committed, they were also talented, tireless and theatrically "with it." Their facial expressions, body movements, and insatiable energy were absolutely extraordinary. Singing and dancing by all was totally audible and on key, and perfectly synchronized.

The show's main leads — Peter Pan (Mykenzi Sanders), Wendy (Emily Flanders), Father and Captain Hook (Gage Wheeler) — were expertly cast. All other actors and actresses assumed excellent supporting roles.

Extensive script that was truly perfected, character development and portrayal that were masterfully performed added so much to the grandeur and total effect of the entire show.

Costumes were both colorful and appealing. The Indians, the Pirates and the Lost Boys stood out very convincingly in both their costumes and in their character roles. Stage design and set pieces were highly functional and were utilized very well. Musical accompaniment by Mrs. Fand was great as always. Lighting and technical effects were impressive.

The art and act of flying must have had its first real test on our Audi stage, and Peter Pan's mastery, smoothness and security in doing it were brilliant.

All those students and adults behind the scenes are to be commended, too. Their attention to detail, their perfect timing, and their movement of stage pieces were done without noise or confusion.

For all the actors and actresses, past and present, their theatrical experiences had truly benefited them in so many excellent ways. They had developed more self-confidence and poise. They had mastered the ability to portray stage personae different from themselves. They had learned the tricks of time management, both on and off the stage. They had realized better control of their voices and their speech, and they had surely become good team players.

Theater in our I-L schools is certainly alive and well. Its original mission remains intact. Its role as an extracurricular activity has been confirmed. Its support by our three communities is guaranteed, and the range of its offerings is student-oriented and director-savvy.

Marjorie Lee

I-L School Store Manager