Santa Maria Sun / Art
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 39
The mesa is alive ...The acclaimed Nipomo High School Drama class presents its production of 'The Sound of Music'
BY JOE PAYNE
Some plays define the genre of theater they exemplify. The Sound of Music has come to be known as one of the most quintessential musicals of all time, immortalized in the 1965 film starring Julie Andrews. And now, thanks to the acclaimed talent and skill at Nipomo High School’s Drama Department, the play is going receive a breath of new life from the youthful organization.
This is going to be a first for the Nipomo High School Drama Department, which has produced musicals, comedies, and dramas, but never The Sound of Music, explained drama teacher and artistic director Cynthia Anthony. This is also Anthony’s first year as drama teacher at the school.
“The Sound of Music is not often done at the high school level,” she said. “It’s not an easy show to sing. You have to have some good singers, and we do.”
Anthony took over the reins of Nipomo High School Drama after last year saw the retirement of much-loved drama teacher Robyn Metchik, who famously taught Zac Efron. Under Metchik, the program enjoyed numerous accolades, including attending the Glasgow Theatre Festival in Scotland and performing at Disney Land and on a cruise line. Anthony hopes to preserve and expand the reputation Nipomo High’s drama department has enjoyed.
“I am so grateful for the opportunity to teach here at Nipomo and be the head of the department,” she said. “I think people are going to be so grateful if they come here with their families and see this show.”
Though it’s her first year teaching at Nipomo, it’s not Anthony’s first time teaching drama. She’s been teaching for years, including at the drama department in Paso Robles.
“I believe inherently in the value of a performance arts education,” she said. “It’s learning by doing at its most exemplary form, and it culminates in a performance, which is something tangible that the whole community can enjoy.”
This production of The Sound of Music will be at the Clark Center for the Performing Arts. Though the space is usually reserved for professional performance companies, the Nipomo High School Drama Department has a sterling enough reputation to book the Clark, without having any trouble filling seats.
“The Clark Center requires that high production value,” Anthony said, “but our sets rival any production company, teaching or professional. We have a two-story set with stairs, and kids are running up and down, and hills painted in the background—it is just stunning.”
The students at Nipomo High work diligently in every aspect of a theater production, including set design, costume design, acting, lighting, and more.
“I refer to us as a production company because it just takes that kind of energy to surround plays,” Anthony said. “It’s such a great opportunity to use this class to maximize the time towards the production.”
Anthony has five different classes at Nipomo High for which she prepares. From acting to tech work, set design or even writing promotional materials, the kids do it all.
To be fair, the kids do receive plenty of support from their parents. Activities like building the set, which requires tools and precision, may see some handy, capable adults pitching in.
“Our parents do so much; they help sell tickets and advertising, fundraising, they help build, they help move sets,” she said. “It’s not necessarily unique, but it’s just something that is really special about the drama program.”
One thing Anthony truly treasures from being a teacher is getting to coach young aspiring actors. All of the roles in The Sound of Music, including the adult characters, are played by students.
“Some students have a lot of experience and know how to approach a role, but some kids need some guidance,” she said. “Personally I love coaching and teaching acting. I have an actor’s heart, and that’s how I approach it.”
With high school kids playing the adults, the multiple Von Trapp children did pose a bit of a challenge. Anthony went to the community, holding auditions for the children, and encouraged students from her Mason Middle School drama class to audition as well.
“We double cast some of the roles to give the little ones more of an opportunity,” she said. “Those young performers are learning so much from their high school elders.”
The classic play will take the stage at the Clark Center in Arroyo Grande on Dec. 6, 7, and 8 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 8 at 1 p.m. The student cast will be singing, dancing, and acting until the hills are ringing with The Sound of Music.
“My challenge to the community is don’t underestimate the youth in this community,” Anthony said. “You want some good theater? Here it is.”
Arts Editor Joe Payne was once 16, going on 17. Contact him at email@example.com.