(Posted Nov. 8, 2022)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Jonathan Alder High School’s theater program will present “Ghostlight,” a play by Stephen Gregg, Nov. 10-11 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 12-13 at 3 p.m. in the high school auditeria.
New to role of Jonathan Alder’s play director, Daniel Rodriguez Hijo wanted to take the fall production in a new direction.
“I looked through a lot of plays to get to this one,” he said. “Since this is my first year as director, I wanted to find something very unique and unlike anything that’s ever been done in the district.”
He also wanted a show that would work with a diverse group of student actors and one with a script and characters the actors could really latch onto.
The storyline revolves around Garbiela Nettles, a disenfranchised high schooler who transfers to a prestigious school only to become entangled in a 15-year-old tragedy to which she has surprising connections.
Whereas Garbiela is very moody, the student playing her, junior Anna Gribbell, is just the opposite in real life. And yet, she has been able to embrace the role.
“Anna is pretty new to plays. It’s something she’s always wanted to do. She was too nervous to audition before, but this year she gave it a shot and ended up landing the lead role,” Rodriguez Hijo said. “She was able to connect to the character very well right off the bat. She understood her tone, the way she speaks, what her character needs to do. She knows Garbiela inside and out.”
Senior Zoe Yates plays Fantine, a fun, high energy person who likes to talk and share and wants a best friend to hang out with because she’s actually quite lonely.
“Zoe did some plays when she was in middle school, but this is really one of her first higher-end performances, let alone a lead. Much like Anna, she spends her time mainly in the marching band program,” Rodriguez Hijo said.
Seniors Maya Sivillo and Olivia Cramer are playing vocal roles in which they are heard but not seen. They are essentially the voices in Garbiela’s head.
“They were a little concerned about it initially. We’ve never done anything like this at Jonathan Alder. But they have really come into it,” Rodriguez Hijo said, adding that Sivillo and Cramer also play characters on stage.
Altogether, the cast and crew adds up to approximately 40 students. Most of the participants are active in band and choir programs but new to the fall play.
“To see that growth is fun, and the kids seem to be enjoying it. It’s cool to see them have this other outlet for their creativity,” Rodriguez Hijo said.
He added that he loves his new job as play director.
“I love Alder and their programs. To be able to direct and see the potential I see in it has been a dream come true,” he said.
Rodriguez Hijo is a 2018 Jonathan Alder graduate who also serves as instructor for the junior high school drama club program and organizes summer theater productions in Plain City featuring local adults, junior high students, and high school students.
Assisting him with the fall play is Kristin Tillyer.
Tickets to “Ghostlight” are $10 each and can be purchased online at https://givebutter.com/jafp22.