Much-needed comic relief in 'Hoopla'
For the young actors at Tualatin High School, their upcoming spring show, "Hoopla," offers a much-needed break after a tense year.
The school's first theatrical production of the year was "The Foreigner," a comedy in which the Ku Klux Klan makes a brief appearance in the final act. This was in December, when the Klan was making real-life headlines for supporting President Donald Trump.
Next, students performed "The Crucible," which is often seen as an analogy for the McCarthy hearings of 1954, when U.S. Sen. Joe McCarthy made sweeping and unfounded accusations about communism in the United States government. The week before the show opened, Trump invoked McCarthy's name on Twitter when alleging that President Obama had wiretapped him.
So for the final show of the year, theater teacher Jennifer Hunter decided to put together a show of comedic scenes, songs and dances. "Hoopla" includes a kazoo band, characters from Pixar's "Inside Out," and a scene in which three men in silver spandex suits unwrap foil-covered apples.
"This time we made sure, no matter what is on Twitter the week we open, we will have a show that's about laughter," Hunter said.
Many of the acts in "Hoopla" are directed or choreographed by students. In "This Year," freshman Tegan Kelly performs a dance she choreographed, and is joined by her fellow dancer Abby Cosart. Kelly said the dance tells the story of a romantic relationship's ups and downs, from first meeting to break-up to reunion.
"I've always loved choreography," Kelly said. "I've been dancing my whole life. So it was really fun to get an opportunity to dance and act in the show."
Sean Nelson, a sophomore, will make his directing debut with the one-act play "Sure Thing," written by David Ives. Nelson said that directing his first scene was a challenge, as he wasn't used to being in charge of a production.
"It's been an amazing opportunity and I had a lot of fun with it," he said. "It taught me a lot about leadership and working with people."
Drew Havnaer, a senior, also got to direct a scene — and star in the absurdist, clowning-inspired "Space Apples." He said he channels, "a little bit Charlie Chaplin, and a little bit Blue Man Group," to perform his role.
Havnaer has been acting for six years, and said that he looks forward to making audiences laugh in his final show at Tualatin High.
"Hearing people laugh is my favorite thing about doing theater," he said.
And after the year the theater department at Tualatin High has had, many of the actors are looking forward to producing a show that isn't reminiscent of recent headlines.
"I hope it's a break and a relief for people," Kelly said. "I hope that, with everything going on in the world right now, it's a fun night for people to enjoy themselves."
When: 7:30 p.m., Thursday, May 18;
3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Friday, May 19th (both shows "pay what you will");
2 p.m. ("pay what you will") and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 20.
Where: Tualatin High School, 22300 S.W. Boones Ferry Road, Tualatin.