'Up the Down Staircase' opens Oct. 31 at Kamiakin High School

By Dori O'Neal, Tri-City HeraldOctober 23, 2013 

Up the Down Staircase

Victoria Coronado as Sylvia, left, Chandler James as Joe Ferone and Justin Smith as Mr. McHabe rehearse a scene from the Kamiakin Drama Department's production of Up the Down Staircase.

PAUL T. ERICKSON — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

Chris Hamilton has had his share of challenges as Kamiakin High's new drama director -- like trying to harness the attention of all the students he cast in the first show of the school year, Up the Down Staircase.

"We have 28 actors in this show, most with other extra-curricular commitments as well as this one," Hamilton said.

"Having everyone in the same place for rehearsal at the same time has been a challenge," he said. "And though I have been involved in theater in one form or another for well more than a decade, this is my first high school directing experience."

Despite all that, Hamilton is pleased with his students' acting.

"I am impressed with the talent of my young actors on a daily basis," he said. "This whole process has been an incredibly fun and rewarding experience, and I cannot wait to show it to the community."

Up the Down Staircase is about an idealistic English teacher named Sylvia Barrett, who tackles her first job in a New York City high school where the students are a constant challenge. More importantly, she becomes totally frustrated by the bureaucracy of the education system.

The play might not have been Hamilton's choice, as it was chosen and cast at the end of last school year. However, he says the play is perfect for him to cut his directing teeth.

"I think Up the Down Staircase was a very good choice," he said. "It's relatable to the actors despite being set in the early 1960s. Many of the themes, troubles and difficulties the characters go through are universal and still experienced by high school students today."

The lead actors are Victoria Coronado as Sylvia, Lauryn Meacham as Bea Schachter, Justin Smith as JJ McHabe and Chandler James as Joe Ferone.

Showtimes are 7 p.m. Oct. 31 and Nov. 2 with a 2 p.m. matinee Nov. 2.

Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for students with an ASB card. The school is at 600 N. Arthur St., Kennewick.

w Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @dorioneal

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