On the surface, the Hood River Valley High School Theater Department’s two winter plays — Steel Magnolias and Terra Nova — seem vastly different.
One takes place in a hair salon in the 1980s, the other at the South Pole in the early 1900s. One cast is all female, the other male — with one female role. One features a Southern community, the other British explorers. And one is a work of fiction, while the other is drawn from letters and journals.
Digging deeper, the overarching themes of friendship and support, pain and loss, binds the two together. Fitting, since both run congruently starting this weekend.
TICKETS AND TIMES
Steel Magnolias: March 2, March 10 and March 16 at 7 p.m., and March 3 and March 11 at 2 p.m.
Terra Nova: March 3, March 9 and March 17 at 7 p.m., and March 4 and March 10 at 2 p.m.
Both shows play at the HRVHS Bowe Theater. Tickets are $8 for students and $10 for adults — or $12 for students and $15 for adults to see both.
It’s ambitious to attempt two plays at once — let alone these two, with their gripping, emotional scripts and completely different set needs — but longtime HRVHS theater teacher Rachel Harry, who directs both, knew her students were up to the task.
“Both plays are a challenge for the teen actor to attempt,” she said. “I have a stellar group of seniors who I thought needed this challenge. There are a few juniors in the mix, and they (are) also incredibly capable.”
The two feature small, well-seasoned casts: For Steel Magnolias, Lauren Church (M'Lynn Eatenton), Freya Chase (Truvy Jones), Ella Van Cott (Ouiser Boudreaux), JoJo Summersett (Clairee Belcher), Katelyn McAllister (Annelle Dupuy) and Sara Zeman (Shelby Eatenton Latcherie); for Terra Nova, Westlake Cannon (Amundsen), Aidan Tappert (Bowers), Paul Hargrave (Scott), Cooper Case (Oates), Liam Baker (Wilson), Ryan McEuin (Evans) and Aleeyah Enriquez (Kathleen).
While the casts are small, the plays require large technical support.
“I had the perfect storm of a number of rock star seniors who work backstage, and they ran rehearsals when I was working with the other cast,” Harry said. “I also wanted to play with the idea of designing a set/lights that could be switched in an hour to accommodate the performance schedule. Professional theaters do this all the time. I have a class just as devoted to technical theater and I wanted the students to experience this.”
She describes her crews as “stellar.”
“I have a number of seniors who took the newbies under their wings to train,” she said. “... I have a senior tech person in most of the positions for one of the productions, and a freshman in that same position in the other play. They collaborated a lot and thus not only learned by watching but learned by doing.”
She kept the crews separate so they could focus on just one production, “but a few students managed to get into both —Sadie and Sage Fetkenhour, Ash Vaday.”
Though each play is complex in its own way, and each features separate casts and crews, Harry said the best part has been seeing her students learn to trouble shoot and problem solve as a group.
“At times I felt left out, sitting in the house watching them turn to each other rather than me, their noble leader! But really, that is my goal, to have students who can mount a professionally executed full length production on their own,” she said.
Harry fell in love with both plays in the 1980s, she said, and, along with Fiddler on the Roof, which she directed in the fall, are productions that she’s wanted to direct, “if only to place my personal concept on them,” she said in her director’s notes, “… and pondered how to get these onto a high school stage, particularly Steel Magnolias and Terra Nova.”
Cast and Crew
Truvy, Freya Chase
Annelle, Katelyn McAllister
Clairee, JoJo Summersett
Ouiser, Ella Van Cott
M’Lynn, Lauren Church
Shelby, Sara Zeman
Stage manager, Sullivan Cannon
Assistant stage manager, Ash Vaday
Props, Sarah Hamada
Runner, Emilia Emerton
Grips, Wyatt Brownlee, Austin Norton, RaeAan Rhodes
Light board, Hannah Roser
Light book, Max Spears
Sounds effects, Matilda Kahler
Change crew, Sophia Mata and Maria Sandoval
Scott, Paul Hargrave
Amundsen, Westlake Cannon
Kathleen, Aleeyah Enriquez
Bowers, Aidan Tappert
Oates, Cooper Case
Wilson, Liam Baker
Evans, Ryan McEuin
Assistant stage manager,
Props, Erica Matthisen
Runner, RaeAan Rhodes
Light board, Nicholas Spezia-Shwiff
Light book, Stella Waag
Digital images operator, Zack Amsberry
Sound effects, Aleyah Klapprich
Change crew, Sophia Mata, Maria Sandoval
Director: Rachel Harry
Set design: Jeff Lorenzen (Steel Magnolias), Rachel Harry (Terra Nova)
Building crew: Jeff Lorenzen, Paul Hargrave, Zach Barbour, Ash Vaday, Thomas Lovejoy
Prop Design: Brooklyn Williams
Lighting design: Rachel Harry
Soundscape/music for Terra Nova: Duncan Krummel
Poster design: Tay Camille Lynne
Terra Nova Sled: Thomas Lovejoy
Program design: Jayce Tappert
Costume design/mistress: Kathy Peldyak
Make-up, Terra Nova: Lauren Church, Sara Zeman, Christine Marquez, Onika Rutherford, Sadie Fetkenhour, Sage Fetkenhour
Make-up, Steel Magnolias: Tay Lynne, Sadie Fetkenhour, Sage Fetkenhour