Once every few months, for three nights only, students, teachers, and families gather in the auditorium to witness the Highlands Ranch Thespian’s newest production. Not long ago it was their Broadway Revue, “A Beautiful Thing,” and while one might think they’re taking some hard-earned rest, they’re already back to work.
Thespians at HR are already working on their next production, the famous comedy-musical “Little Shop of Horrors.” After only a week of downtime, rehearsals are already in full swing and the department is hard at work. With the shows only weeks away, they’re giving it their all, and they’re taking on every obstacle they face.
Without considering time, both plays have their own share of challenges. Will Brooks, head of the HR theater department, said, “For ‘A Beautiful Thing’, it’s the first time Highlands Ranch has attempted any kind of production like that, not just in the Broadway Revue, but the fact it was originally written by a staff member. At least as far as I know, I don’t think that has ever been attempted. But also, the fact that it’s a large cast musical, so there’s just a whole lot of different elements that we’ve got to put together very quickly.” For those who don’t know, a Broadway Revue is a play or production that combines works from many of Broadway’s biggest shows.
For their other production, “Little Shop of Horrors,” the challenges are much different from the last. Brooks said, “For Little Shop, it is a slightly smaller cast, so there’s that. As far as getting everyone’s schedule working together, it’s slightly less difficult. But there’s a singing plant, we’ve got a live orchestra that’s playing with us, and there’s period costumes. With “A Beautiful Thing,” it was modern, so we could wear clothes that people might already have available in their house, but it would have to look right altogether, but with Little Shop, Little Shop is a script written in the 1980’s, based on a 1960’s Roger Corman film, so there’s all sorts of period things that we’ve got to deal with on top of that.”
While the productions on their own have a lot of challenges in design and practice, the student Thespians also must deal with their own. “The time is always a big issue,” said Tristan Ropa, senior and an actor in theater. “It’s something we always have to acknowledge because it is a lot of time. It is three hours everyday, and then sometimes on weekends, you know, for four hours. We get our breaks every once in a while, but we’re here a lot, and you’ve got other parts of your life you have to do.”
A lesser known issue is also health of the actors and the cast. “Your health kind of gets affected cause you’ve got a really stressful five weeks with “A Beautiful Thing,” and you’re putting something together, you’re working really hard, and you’re using your voice every single day to its capacity. Then you’ve got a week, and then during that week, you kind of start to get sick, because your voice has been used so much, your body finally catches up with itself and it’s like, ‘Whoa!’,” said Ropa. Despite this, the actors still carry on with their work onstage and continue to rehearse.
However, the job of producing a play is not limited to acting. Stage managers like Hailey Kurtic, Moira Davis, and Maya Cannon work to help make everything happen behind the scenes and bring the play to life. For “A Beautiful Thing,” one of the aspects of the set design used projection and simpler sets compared to “Little Shop of Horrors.” “That, I think, made it a lot easier,” said Cannon, “because it helped tell the story a lot more than the actual lines and the songs.”
On “Little Shop of Horrors,” however, the set becomes much more complex than that of the prior production. “There will be lots of fun things that will be onstage, and it’s going to be a hard process for us,” said Davis, but she said they are ready to make it look amazing. Part of the set is going to be a moving plant, which Cannon said will be “really, really cool.”
However, being a stage manager has some of its own stresses alongside those of acting in the play. Davis, Cannon and Kurtic, though, are ready to handle the challenge, as Cannon says it is her fourth show being a stage manager, Davis’ second, and Kurtic’s first. Kurtic said, “I think I have found that it’s a really big time commitment, but that it’s not really ever stressful, because we’re doing something that we signed up for, and that we love to do. We, as stage managers, get to help out, and watch the whole production be created from start to finish, so it’s actually a really fun process to be a part of.”
Despite the limited amount of time they have, the theater department continues on with their production, putting in work for countless hours after school. After all this, though, for the actors, it’s all worth it. Ropa said, “There’s no better feeling of appreciation than when you walk out there and there are people just cheering for you, clapping for you, you’re bowing, you’re so overwhelmed with appreciation.”
John Boughey, Staff Reporter