'Good to be back': West Linn High is ready for opening night
Sofia Gomez, a sophomore, has attended plays at West Linn High School since she was in the second grade. Less than 24 hours after speaking with the Tidings, she stood on that very stage as a lead performer in the school's latest play.
"It's really cool to be part of something that I've watched my whole life and wanted to be a part of," she said.
From Nov. 12-20, West Linn High's theater department will take the stage to perform "The Pirates of Penzance." The play follows the story of a young pirate, Frederic, who on his 21st birthday decides to break free from the pirate life and begin his courtship with a young woman named Mabel.
The high school's theater arts director, Steven Beckingham, chose the play — which is jam-packed with comedic lines and fun characters — after performing in it in college.
"After a hiatus from live theater, it made sense to produce something very familiar," said Beckingham.
Due to COVID-19, the theater department migrated to online performances in 2020. For Gomez and some of the younger castmates, this month marks the first time they will perform in front of a live audience at the high school. But now that they are back, the cast has worked "tirelessly" since September to put on the best show for the community and themselves, said Gomez.
Senior Karah Rhodes, who will tag-team the lead role, Mabel, with Gomez, is a veteran performer for the high school. "Pirates" signifies a bittersweet moment as the first show of her final year.
"It's good to be back after such a long time. I love and miss that feeling right before you go on and you can hear the audience chattering. It just gives you such a rush," she said, "And I think the audience will really enjoy the show; it's funny and a good one to come back to from COVID."
While Rhodes performed onstage during their final dress rehearsal, a mixture of stage lights and artificial blue waves danced across the auditorium, swiping against the top of band teacher Kevin Egan's head, which peeks out from the bottom of the stage.
While the play follows the original music and script from the classic play, theater-goers can enjoy a bit of a twist as all the songs are performed by a 30-person choir and a full orchestra and band that plays under the stage.
"Even though I don't have a big part because I'm more part of the ensemble, I just like being able to have the opportunity to be on stage and perform with such talented people," said Maddie Myer.
Beckingham said each member of the cast plays an important role. And he is excited to be working with the students once again, even if it's just during rehearsals.
"The rehearsal process is and always will be my favorite thing about putting on a show. Yes, we want strong performances and to give audiences their money's worth, but the process of creating characters … and exploring human nature cannot be beat," said Beckingham.
Starting Wednesday, the once-vacant auditorium seats will be filled with families and other community members.
"I know the audience is going to be just as excited as we are, because they haven't been to a show in a while. And we haven't performed in a show for a while so it's going to be equally great for everyone," said Gomez.
IF YOU GO
What: West Linn High School's performance of "The Pirates of Penzance"
When: 7 p.m. Nov. 17, 18, 19 and 20
Where: West Linn High School Performing Arts Center
Tickets: $10 in advance, $12 at the door for adults; $7 in advance, $9 at the door for students. Tickets can be purchased online at wlhstheatre.org, but can also be purchased at the door.
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