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Shakespeare to SpongeBob—Alta theatre offers variety in its season

Oct 04, 2021 03:07PM ● By Julie Slama

Alta High theatre students meet during their first rehearsal for “SpongeBob, SquarePants: The Broadway Musical.” (Linze Struiksma/Alta High)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Alta High theatre students have learned a lot about resiliency, and “the show must go on” after enduring quarantining and construction for more than one year. Still, it continues.

Although the new Performing Arts Center opened on Alta’s campus, the theatre room, as of early in the school year, still has yet to be completed so the thespians are rehearsing in the Green Room. Both “Henry VI,” the ensemble piece they plan to perform at the 45th annual high school Shakespeare competition, and “SpongeBob, SquarePants: The Broadway Musical” are in rehearsal.

“We’re still in the Green Room, still wearing masks, making the most of everything this season,” Alta theatre director Linze Struiksma said. “We’ve come together and are excited about this season, but through all these months, we’ve learned to be kind, accept and respect one another and we’ve talked about how everyone has a place.”

Directing the Shakespearean ensemble is Alta High graduate Noah Martinez, who also is overseeing the scenes, monologues and stage tech students for their competitions. The contest begins this year with video submissions in the monologues and scenes, which is new this year. The finals in those competitions will be held in-person. Other events also will be held Sept. 30-Oct. 2 in Cedar City.

“SpongeBob” will be held at 7 p.m., Nov. 17-20 and again, Nov. 22, in the Performing Arts Center on the northwest corner of Alta’s campus, 11055 S. 1000 East. There also will be a 2 p.m. matinee on Nov. 20. Tickets are $9 online at or $10 at the door.

The musical, which premiered in Chicago five years ago, is based on the Nickelodeon animated TV series and has many songs written by notable singers, such as David Bowie, Cyndi Lauper, John Legend, Lady Antebellum amongst others.

“I don’t like the SpongeBob television show; it’s not my thing, but (pit orchestra director) Caleb (Shabestari) has been asking me to do it for years,” Struiksma said. “So, I watched a production at Box Elder High School, and I absolutely loved it. It resonated with me and with 16 artists who got together to write the music, it’s just amazing. I sent a text to Caleb that night and said, ‘I’m on board.’”

The next day, the performing arts department decided to produce the show and Struiksma asked for the rights to put it on.

One tradition that was introduced last year, she plans to carry over; that is allowing the understudies to perform during the show’s run. This November, it will be on the night of Nov. 18. Last year, she could then count on having leads during the pandemic—and it proved to be a “cool bonding experience.”

“Last year, the leads bought gifts for their understudies and were their biggest cheerleaders on show night. It was really cool, and this way, we involve everyone. At the same time, they learn the valuable lesson that they’re replaceable if something happens, which is a real-world experience,” she said.

Also underway, improvisation captain and senior Dani Gibson is writing the school’s annual murder-mystery, which will be coupled with dinner. There will be two shows, at 5 p.m. and again at 7:30 p.m., the evening of Dec. 10 and will cost $15, proceeds are earmarked for new microphones and sound equipment.

“Dani’s doing a really good job and she has a fun theme. It’s great to see her grow in her writing,” she said.

Joining Struiksma on staff is new English and film studies teacher, Lindsey Cline, who will be directing a yet-to-be announced show Feb. 16-19, 2022.

In March 2022, the thespians will compete in region with individual events at Orem High and one-act at Lehi High. State will be in April 2022 at Viewmont High.

Alta will continue its tradition in May 2022 with Theatre 4 students directing a younger cast in one-act plays, giving upcoming students a chance to have some leading parts and older students, a chance to direct, Struiksma said.