Liam H. Flake
Fossil Ridge High School’s theatre department held their Drama Reveal on Monday, August 27. They will be staging Rent and One Man, Two Guvnors for the 2018-2019 school year. The department also shared some major changes that will be taking place this season. The spring play’s director, Deana Kochis, will be having a baby in February, so the musical will take place in the fall and the play will be produced in the spring semester. Auditions for the musical will take place next week. The reveal also unveiled the start of Fossil theatre’s Booster Club, in which parents can assist the program by volunteering and helping with fundraising.
While the imminent start of musical preparation put many attending thespians in a state of panic, the decision of Rent was well received by the audience. Rent, based off of opera La Boheme and set in nineties New York City, is widely popular among modern audiences, running for twenty years after opening in 1996. The musical addresses serious topics like AIDs, sexuality, and addiction, and exemplifies the central theme of “no day but today.”
When asked about reasoning for the selection, Kochis offered that “I think our program is ready to take on the challenge of giving students the opportunity to dive into those raw, gritty, deeper roles, which Rent offers.” With more mature themes than previous years, Rent provides complex roles for students and the challenge of just portrayal. Beyond the rich and diverse cast of characters presented, the show also opens up opportunities for poignant discussions. “(Rent can) lead us into meaningful conversations about love and communication, and so I think we’re ready to have that conversation,” Kochis explained. In order to comply with a school setting, the theatre program has chosen to stage the high school edition, which cuts one song (“Contact”) and makes minimal changes to dialogue from the original. The program has also submitted the musical to be evaluated for the Bobby G’s, high school theatre awards that will be announced in May.
After the musical, spring semester will begin with students diving into One Man, Two Guvnors, a British comedy adapted from the Italian Servant of Two Masters. In selecting the play, Kristin Rust, the play’s director, hopes to diverge in genre from recent school plays. In the previous two years, the school has produced Frankenstein and Radium Girls, which have addressed legal and societal injustice and death. “We’ve done some very serious dramas in the past few years, and I’m very excited to take on the challenge of a comedy,” Rust provided. “I love this show because it has so many different elements of comedy. It has lots of classical form, it has stock characters and farce, it’s gonna be awesome.”
While the acting for each production is directed by separate teachers, the technical theatre for both shows is overseen by choir teacher John Garner. Under Garner’s direction, students create set, props, costumes, lighting, and more in order to ensure high quality productions. Leading up to productions, Garner helps conceptualize some of the technical elements for a show in order to create a unified stage appearance. Rent, however, poses some unique challenges. “Rent is one of the most famous musicals out there, so we have a lot to live up to,” Garner explained, outlining ideas for the production. “People have expectations coming in for what it’s going to look like, there’s kind of a standard.” The production itself, aside from technical standards, also creates difficulties in particular areas. Lights and set both require unique approaches for the show. “It feels in some ways like lighting for a rock concert. There’s a lot of haze and moving lights, so I’m really excited for that,” Garner posited. “The set is also different. It’s primarily one location, but it’s got a lot of levels, and it’s got a grungy look.” One Man, Two Guvnors also presents some unique tech opportunities, as the show will have a band onstage.
While the program and everyone involved is excited by the announcement of the shows, the switch of the musical and play puts some strain on Fossil thespians; however, the directors believe the program is up to the challenge. “We do well with challenges,” Rust expressed. “This switch will present challenges that we may not be anticipating, and that’s okay. We do well with them, and so it’s going to be great.”
Auditions and tech interviews for Rent are beginning on September 4, with applications due the same day. The musical will be performed November 15-17, and One Man, Two Guvnors will run April 5-6.