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Sandy Journal

Jordan, Alta to perform fall musicals in November, season of plays

Nov 07, 2018 10:21AM ● By Jana Klopsch

Alta High theater students perform an ensemble piece from “Julius Caesar” on stage at the 42nd annual Utah High School Shakespeare competition. (Photo courtesy of Linze Struiksma)

By Julie Slama | julie@mycityjournals.com

From a comic opera to a musical based on a popular children’s book, Sandy’s public high school students will take the stage to present a variety of entertainment this season.

Fresh from competing at the 42nd annual Utah High School Shakespeare competition, where Jordan High earned fourth place in sweepstakes with Madrigals finishing second and improvisation team third, the students already were celebrating before concentrating on their fall musical.

“The Madrigals met a few times informally over the summer, learning and memorizing the songs,” senior Hannah Braithwaite said. “We wanted to be prepared.”

Likewise, junior Nathan Holley said the six-member improv team was ready to perform.

“It’s the first time ever that we’ve placed,” he said. “It was fun, really stressful, but I loved it. The judges loved it. We rocked it.”

Now, the two and the rest of the cast are focusing on presenting Gilbert and Sullivan’s fifth collaboration, “The Pirates of Penzance.”

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Holley said. “Since it’s in the public domain, we can tweak scenes to make it our own. We have a lot of talent so it will be a funny show.”

Pirates will be performed at 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 8 through Saturday, Nov. 10, and again on Monday, Nov. 12 at Jordan High’s auditorium, 95 East Beetdigger Boulevard (9880 South). Tickets will be available at the door and will cost $5 for students and $7 for adults.

At Alta, 26 students on the school’s Shakespeare team, who earned superiors marks, presented Brutus’ tragic downfall in “Julius Caesar.” The team competed in ensemble, monologues, scenes and tech Olympics.

“They got top marks, so I was happy with their super high scores,” theater director Linze Struiksma said.

Alta’s Shakespeare team was directed by Alta graduate Noah Martinez and coached by Nicole Triptow and Struiksma. The lead of Brutus was played by junior Kirby Balding, Antony by junior Sara Holbrook, Portia by junior Aurie Ackermann, Caesar by junior Gwyn Fowler, Casca by senior Jordan Allred and Cassius by senior Isabelle Siebeneck. 

Now, theater students are involved in building a nine-foot peach prop that will dominate the stage with their season-opener, “James and the Giant Peach.”

The show will open at 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 15 and run through Saturday, Nov. 17, with a final showing on Monday, Nov. 19. There will be a 2 p.m., Saturday matinee. Tickets are $10 at the door or $9 online, with a link available from the school’s website. The performance will be in the school auditorium, 11055 South Hawk Highway (1000 East).

“It’s a fairly new musical that not a lot of Utah schools have performed,” Struiksma said. “It has a really good message and is family friendly.”

At Jordan, “Pirates” is a story about Frederic, who, upon reaching age 21, is released from his apprenticeship to a band of tender-hearted pirates. He meets Mabel, the daughter of Major-General Stanley, and the two fall in love. Frederic, however, learns that he was born on Feb. 29, so, technically, he has a birthday only once each leap year. He, therefore, must remain apprenticed to the pirates until his actual 21st birthday, meaning that he must serve for another 63 years. Bound by his own sense of duty, Frederic's only solace is that Mabel agrees to wait for him faithfully. 

The leads include senior Gunnar Russell as Frederic, junior Lauren Osborne as Mabel, senior Hagen Tuft as the Pirate King, junior Brynn Lythgoe as Ruth, senior Malorie Winder as the Sergeant, and Holley as the Major General.

The musical is directed by Suzie Duval, with J.P. Kentros as music director. Mary Ellen Smith is overseeing costume design and Wendy Wilde is the choreographer. 

Braithwaite said it is her first musical at Jordan High.

“I’m an assistant director and I’m in the cast as one of 30-plus daughters who are getting married off,” she said. “The show is full of jokes and is classical, but with a modern twist.”

Braithwaite isn’t the only student involved with the show. Jake Jackson is the stage manager, and Ileah Washington and Holley also are choreographing pieces.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to try,” Holley said, adding that he is choreographing the daughters’ dance. “They’re using parasols in the routine. But what’s fun is the surprise twist at the end of the show.”

In “James,” Struiksma said the message of having a “family” around you, whether it’s friends, family members or the community, ties into the student drama club’s theme, “In a world where you can be anything, you can be kind.”

“For our students, it’s a comfort to know those around you, are your family,” she said. “And as a family, we’re supporting kindness and making it a priority.”

The musical is based on the children’s book by the same name. It’s a story of how James is sent to chop down his aunts’ old fruit tree, but instead, discovers a magic potion that results in a huge peach. This launches James, who finds himself swallowed up inside the peach, on a journey alongside human-sized insects, whom he convinces to work together as a family.

The musical is directed by Struiksma, with the assistance of senior Stephanie Triptow. The music director is April Lund and the orchestra is directed by Caleb Shabestari. Choreography is by Lauralyn Koffard. The stage manager and set co-designer is senior Isabelle Siebeneck, light design by junior Kirby Balding, sound design by junior Caroline Wolf. 

Senior Christian Affleck is James, with senior Lindsey Brown as Ladahlord. Other leads include junior Lauren McHenry as Spiker; junior Abby Coleman as Sponge; senior Gracie Awerkamp as Spider; freshman Ethan Fullmer as Grasshopper; junior Sara Holbrook as Ladybug; junior Abram Berry as Earthworm; junior Sydney Trauba as Centipede and senior Kenedy Connelly as Gloworm.

Jordan’s season will continue with its 20-member improv team performing at 7 p.m., Nov. 16, one of 20 shows throughout the year. 

The Alta season will continue with a murder-mystery dinner on Friday, Dec. 7 and will take place in the school’s atrium. The third annual event will be written and created by senior Isabelle Siebeneck and directed by Nicole Triptow.

Jordan’s December show will be a “Night of Broadway,” at 7 p.m., Friday, Dec. 14. Tickets will be $5 at the door. The show will feature students’ pieces — solos, duets, groups — from pantomimes and monologues to scenes — of musicals.

“It’s going to be awesome. I’ve picked, ‘It Sucks To Be Me,’ from ‘Avenue Q.’ It’s something that is appropriate from a musical that isn’t appropriate for a high school. It’s going to be hilarious. We have a group of seven that will audition in late November,” Holley said, adding that Kermit the Frog, the theater’s unofficial mascot, will join the cast.

In the past, there have been students who have presented pieces that are comic, dramatic and romantic, Braithwaite said.

Both schools are planning to perform a comedy in late February. Jordan will perform a light-hearted romantic comedy set in the Great Depression called “Parfumerie,” adapted by E.P. Dowdall from the Hungarian play “Illatszertar” by Miklos Laszlo. They will perform at 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019 through Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019 and again, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. 

Alta has yet to release its show name, but the director promises the show they plan to put on will feature “super great morals.” 

Both schools also will compete at region in March. Alta Theatre IV students will write their own devised one-act. Jordan is planning to perform “Enemy of the People.” State theater competition is in April.

Alta’s season will end in the spring with senior directed one-act performances, which the students will cast, produce and direct. Jordan also will conclude its season with one-acts, which any student can direct, on Thursday, May 16 through Saturday, May 18, 2019.

Holley, who has never directed before, plans to direct a selection from “Rosencrantz and Guilderstern Are Dead.”

“I’m excited to try something new with lighting, blocking and scripting a show,” he said. “I do theater because I love it.”

Braithwaite said last year the audience “got into the show” she was in during the one-act performances. She played a washing machine.

“A lot of the audience didn’t realize I was in there; it was a lot of fun,” she said. “I’ve made a lot of friends with the same interests in theater. We’re always celebrating each other’s successes and helping support each other be better.”