By Linda Dillman
A 16-school pool of student thespians—pre-professional theatrical high schoolers from throughout Central Ohio in the Eastland Performing Arts program—are in the midst of their current production season at Reynoldsburg High School on Livingston Ave.
The 2016-17 season kicked off in October with a “Shorts Showcase” and continues through April 20 with a dance showcase and “Dance DuJour,” a fully produced spring dance concert.
“Shakespeare’s Sirens,” a compilation of the Bard’s most powerful women is slated for Dec. 16, followed by a “Winter Workshop” on Jan. 19 featuring acting and musical theatre selections and Broadway hits by The Cabaret Company.
Student-lead comedies, “The Odd Couple” and “Noises Off,” take the stage on Feb. 9 followed by “Alice!,” a Beatles-inspired musical adaptation of “Alice in Wonderland,” March 9-12.
Special performance events will take place on Dec. 9, “P.A. Voice Recital,” and May 15, “Playwrights Workshop.”
The Eastland–Fairfield Career and Technical School District Performing Arts program is an opportunity for junior and senior students to participate in a college preparatory program in the arts. Students learn not only through academic study, but also through a variety of production and performance opportunities.
“The hands-on approach that is the hallmark of career and technical education allows students the chance to study theatre arts with more intensity than a regular high school program can provide,” said program Director Doreen Dunn. “The higher standards of our pre-professional program are evident in all that we do. Many of the other skills learned, such as collaboration and marketing, have practical applications in college and the business world.”
An artistic team, composed of director, choreographer, and musical director, choose productions that challenge students and highlight their strengths. Dunn said “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” was chosen last year because there was a depth of comedic actors and singers.
“The Women of Lockerbie,” showcased earlier this season, challenged student actors to portray deep emotional wounds in a play based on the first terrorist attack in 1988.
“The Shorts Showcase,” consisting of student-written plays, and a “Choreographers Showcase,” with original student choreographers, are then given full productions every year.
“Student producers, student directors, student designers, etc. are chosen by their peers after giving a presentation of their vision for the work,” said Dunn. “For main stage productions, student stage managers, assistant directors, dance captains and crew apply and interview for each spot.”
The performing arts program started in 1995 as the first two-year school-to-college satellite experiment of Eastland-Fairfield Career & Technical Schools at Reynoldsburg High School.
“Reynoldsburg was chosen because of its outstanding facility— including a 700 –seat theatre, a modern dance studio, a fully-equipped scene shop, large dressing rooms, a theatre library, music studio and greenroom,” said Dunn. “Most of our graduates go on to college with diverse majors not just in theatre, but in international studies, veterinary medicine, marketing, education, nursing, psychology, international business, etc.”
Many also go to major universities and conservatories with focuses in acting, dance, and technical theatre departments, at Otterbein University, Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Depaul University, North Carolina School of the Arts, Point Park University and University of the Arts.
Graduates have found success both onstage and backstage in professional theatre.
Recent graduate Liz Shivener starred in the leading roles in “Beauty and the Beast” and “Shrek” with national touring companies, Ginny Parker stage managed with “Cirque de Soleil” all over the country as well as in Europe, Dwayne Jackson danced with two NYC dance companies and Josh Kirk started his own successful theatre company in Colorado.
Tickets for the Eastland Performing Arts program productions range from free to $9. For information call (614) 501-4071.