Alta theater students follow yellow brick road after Shakespeare festival win
Nov 02, 2017 05:08PM ● Published by Julie Slama
For Alta High theater students, it’s off to find the Wizard of Oz after winning first place in the ensemble competition at the 41st annual junior high and high school Shakespeare competition, hosted by the Utah Shakespeare Festival and Southern Utah University in Cedar City.
This year’s musical, “Wizard of Oz,” will be performed at 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 16 through Saturday, Nov. 18 and again Monday, Nov. 20. There also will be a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday, Nov. 18. Tickets purchased in advance will be $8 and at the door, $10. The show will be performed at Alta High’s auditorium, 11055 S. Hawk Highway (1000 East).
The show comes after the school’s Shakespeare team took second place in the sweepstakes in Cedar City with the win of their ensemble piece, “To Be: ThereIis No Question,” directed by theater teacher Emily Barker.
“We decided to turn it into an anti-suicide campaign and it’s really pretty cool,” said theater teacher Linza Struiksma. “The students talked about social issues so it was more than just entertaining. There was a powerful and meaningful message behind it.”
Struiksma said theater students plan to team up with the school’s Hope Squad in a Suicide Prevention Week at the school in February.
The 26-member Shakespeare team also performed three monologues, two scenes and competed in the Tech Olympics.
“Our kids were really cheering for the tech team. They’re accurate and produced good quality sets, but they weren’t the fastest. When you come to the stage, the first two are the qualities you really want,” she said.
About two-thirds of the Shakespeare students also were cast in the fall musical, which meant double practices for much of September.
Just like with their ensemble piece, Struiksma wants the cast of 125 students — including stage crew, Dance Company and the pit orchestra — to understand the strong theme of “Wizard of Oz.”
“We read through the script and talked about concepts and themes, but I wanted the students to realize they have the power within themselves. Dorothy could have been told what she wanted to know, but she had to discover it and learn it on her own. Other people along the way can help and show kindness, but I want the students to realize that they need to find for themselves how they can contribute to the world and make a difference,” she said.
Struiksma is the director and set designer. Junior Isabelle Siebeneck is the assistant director and does costumes with junior Ashleigh Irvine. The choreographer is Lauralyn Koffard. Lighting is done by senior Hayden Phillips and senior Jamie Nash is the hair and makeup designer.
The role of Dorothy is played by senior Addie Wray. Senior Sydney Pexton is Auntie Em and Glinda; junior Parker Sackewitz plays Uncle Henry and the Gatekeeper; junior Jordan Allred is Professor Chester Marvel and the Wizard of Oz; and senior Heather Bodine is Almira Gultch and the Wicked Witch of the West. Zeke and the Lion are played by senior McKenna Armstrong; Hickory and the Tin Man are senior Nate Brown; and Hunk and the Scarecrow is junior Christian Affleck.
In 2018, Alta students return to the stage Wednesday, Feb. 21 through Saturday, Feb. 24 with “Macbeth,” directed by Barker. Tickets purchased in advance will be $8 and at the door, $10.
In March and April, students plan to compete at their regional festival and state, respectively. Their season ends in May with seniors directing one-act plays.