Repertory theater comes to Richland High

Dori O'Neal, Herald staff writerOctober 5, 2012 

Richland High's drama students will kick off their theater season Oct. 11 with two plays, performed on alternate nights.

Quilters, a musical developed at the Denver Center Theatre company, is a joyous and moving celebration of American womanhood. It is recommended for all ages.

The Diviners is a theatrical play about a disturbed young man and his friendship with a disenchanted preacher in Indiana during the 1930s. It's recommended for ages 13 and older.

"I decided to do two shows to teach the students about repertory theater," said Director Ellicia Elliott. "Many of the first jobs students will get in professional theater after they graduate college, or often during college, is repertory theater."

Repertory is performing more than one play during the same time. Elliott hopes the exposure will give her students a boost in training when they head off to college.

But there's also a serendipitous reason for the two-play premiere, Elliott added.

"We usually produce between three and four shows a year, and this year I will be able to get two plays done before I go on maternity leave," she said.

She's expecting her first child, which is due around the same time Richland High presents its spring musical and one-act festival.

Elliott is directing Quilters, and Academy of Children's Theatre drama teacher Ellie Alayne will direct The Diviners.

So how are the students adjusting to repertory?

Steven Jokerst, 16, plays the role of the ex-preacher in The Diviners, who comes to town to mentor a young man haunted by his past.

"I think we have a very talented group of actors who all get along well outside the play," Jokerst said. "And it shows through in the characters we play."

Amethyst Parsons, 17, portrays Jennie Mae Layman, the sister of the haunted and disturbed boy, who she must care for daily.

"This show has definitely been a powerful and positive experience with the cast and with our director," Parsons said. "Being pushed to accomplish our characters and to get the theme of unconditional love to the audience, the cast has worked really hard to come together and to make a difference."

Where The Diviners deals with a more serious side of life, Quilters takes the audience into a more whimsical world of music with a timely theme.

"I love how this show helps our audience really embrace us as women and how women used to live," said Nicole Clements, who plays several roles. "It's strong, thoughtful, caring and loving. The bond I have made with my fellow actresses is amazing, and I'm looking forward to putting on this musical."

Here's how the plays will be presented to the public:

Quilters will show at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 11 and at 2 p.m. Oct. 13. The Diviners shows at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 12-13.

The following weekend, The Diviners shows at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 18 and at 2 p.m. Oct. 20, with Quilters at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 19-20.

Tickets cost $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors and are available at the door.

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com

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