(BRANDON HANSEN/Chewelah Independent)
JHS Theatre performing “Cinderella” and “The Crucible” in 2018-19…
While a not a “sport” in a traditional sense, the Jenkins Theatre Department has been knocking it out of the park for decades. This year is no different as a star-studded lineup will bring Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella to Chewelah this fall, and then The Crucible in the Spring.
“By far their biggest strength is passion,” JJSHS Theater program director Sheena Rancourt said. “These kids want to be here, they work hard and they put everything they have into the show, and it shows.”
Experience is a strong point this year as these kids are like NFL vets working on their 100-million dollar contracts.
The current cast for Cinderalla has seven seniors, and they have as many as 10 or 11 years of experience and 30+ shows under their belts.
“Not only that, but these seniors are gracious, humble and open-minded with their diverse peer group and mentors,” Rancourt said. “These students come to us with a broad experience level, which can be good and a challenge to differentiate lessons.”
The theatre department chose their shows at the end of last season to get students excited about the upcoming school year.
“We have a predominantly female group, so Cinderella and The Crucible fit that bill,” Rancourt, who also teaches social studies at the school, said. “We are hoping to attract a family-friendly audience this fall and The Crucible is in the 11th grade English curriculum, so it will be a great way to integrate the arts into our core curriculum.”
Along with their shows, the JHS theatre program will attend the annual Inland Northwest Theatre Arts Festival on Oct. 19-20 to refine their skills and get inspired for their upcoming theatre season.
“We will be promoting our show at Light Up the Park and Boo Fest on Halloween,” Rancourt said. “New this fall will be a night of 10-minute plays in late November/early December.”
49 Degrees North Ski Resort is also teaming up with the program’s actors to train their ski patrol and mountain hosts as the students play sick and injured skiers for a real-life training experience.
The song and dance tour will take its first stop at The Event held by PACA each year, then they’ll travel around to local schools and long-term care facilities.
The students also started an Improv Club this year and they hope to perform in the community. If anyone is interested in joining, helping with, or being informed about any of these events, please follow the Jenkins High School Theatre Facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org directly.
Along with all the fun stuff, there is also learning going on as Rancourt teaches basic theatre terms and works through the curriculum of auditions, stage make-up, blocking, costuming, stage managing and more. Rancourt tries to mentor veterans with those starting out so they can give mini lessons to the younger students.
“We try to bring in experts whenever possible. For instance, Stazya Richmond has come in to help with vocal training, Jared Patton teaches a lesson on stage lighting and using the equipment,” Rancourt said. “Some of our own students will teach peer-lessons about what they learned at the Inland Northwest Theatre Arts Festival, we do a lot of technical work for the productions — so the kids can see all the work that goes into a show — from sound to publicity.”
Along with that, the program goes to see local, collegiate and Broadway shows throughout the year.
“Ultimately, we are trying to prepare these kids not only to pursue acting in college and on a professional level, but helping them to try out all aspects of theatre and performing arts to see where they fit into the picture,” Rancourt said.
Helping out with all of this is obviously Rancourt as the JHS theatre teacher, producer of the shows and handler of background logistics. Charlotte Alby is the “visionary” and the expert who pours her heart and soul into making each show exceptional.
‘“She has a tremendous passion for theatre and the training and experience as well,” Rancourt said. “A few community members have volunteered to help with costuming, and parents make trips to the store for last minute needs, but this theatre program boasts mostly student-led technical crews, thus training them for future theatre pursuits.”
The first show coming up is Cinderella on November 14-17.
The cast includes seniors: Ursula Bakken (Cinderella), Robert Thompson (the Prince), Emma Larsen (Fairy Godmother), Tealai George (Step Mother), Jaydin Ludeman (Step Sister), Jaydianna Briggs (Town Crier) and Joe Dreiszus (Captain of the Guard).
The show also includes foreign exchange students Smilla Dix (The Queen) of Germany and Letizia Faro (Townsperson) of Italy.
“Other seniors likely active this year are Kierra Thompson, Amanda Potter, Haylee Hunter-Lee and Jimmy Kirry will likely make cameos in the spring show or other theatre events,” Rancourt said.
If you’d like to buy raffle tickets and a set of season tickets for the 2018-19 season (each ticket gives entry to one show per production), including a ticket to one production presented by StageTime, contact Rancourt at email@example.com. The raffle tickets are $1 each or $5 for 6 tickets.