Eastlake drama brings 1-act comedies to the plateau

November 14, 2012

By Lillian O'Rorke

Theater fans can get two for the price of one this week when the Eastlake High School Drama team presents two one-act comedies, “This Is a Test” and “Making Nice.”

Doubling up on the number of fall productions makes sense as the size of the club has more than doubled. When director Rachelle Horner took over the Eastlake drama club four years ago she had about 10 students to work worth. That number now fluxates between 20 and 30, depending on the season and students’ class loads.

Kevin Montez, playing the role of a teacher in “This Is a Test,” checks in with struggling student Allen, played by Andrew Tabit. Photo by Lillian O’Rorke

“I wanted to have lots of people in the show and two shows allow me to do that,” she said.

The new addition of freshmen to the high school this year has also contributed to the surge in budding actors, and Horner said she wanted to them to feel involved.

Keiley Backstom is one of those freshmen. She has been in several plays before, so joining the drama club seemed like a no-brainer to her. And she’s glad she did.

“It’s time consuming but fun,” said Backstom.

The 15-year-old plays the role of May, an understudy for Cymbeline in the play within the play “Making Nice,” and said it’s her favorite of the club’s two productions because of the fun she and the other actors have on stage.

“Making Nice,” a 40-minute farce by Alan Haehnel, opens with an angry director shouting at Cymbeline before going on to berate and belittle the entire cast and crew. It’s not long before the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Theatre Division or OSHAT, steps in and tries to take control. Chaos follows as the cast prepares for opening night.

“Last year we did a really serious show,” said Horner, referring to the club’s production of “Hello Herman.” “They like doing comedy. It allows them to express themselves and to play different characters.”

“This Is a Test” takes a comedic twist on an all-too familiar feeling of anxiety.

“Especially since I teach AP and I see how much anxiety they have — I think it’s hilarious,” said Horner, who also teaches AP U.S. History, honors English and American Studies at Eastlake. “We have all been in those moments, freaking out. I’m 10 years out of high school so I remember those tests where you feel like it’s in Chinese.”

Written by Stephen Gregg and surviving more than two decades on the Thespian Society’s annual list of most-produced short plays, “This Is a Test” follows unprepared Allen as he struggles through a nonsensical test. While his cheating classmates breeze through their blue books, Allen is plagued with thoughts of girls, insecurities about his looks and the lack of prospects in his future.

“For me I know it’s a lot more relatable,” said Andrew Tabit, a senior at Eastlake who plays the role of Allen. “If you’ve ever taken a test you know what it’s like to look down and not know anything.”

This is Tabit’s first time in a leading role. The volume of it, he explained, has been a bit challenging.

“It’s something where I not only have to know the lines,” he said, “but I lead transitions and it’s easy to mess it up.”

The club has been rehearsing for the productions since late September and Tabit said he is confident it is ready for opening night.

“The hope is that at least one of them [the plays] speaks to them,” he said about the audience. “Whether it’s having a boss that is mean and angry or having to take a test.”

The shows will run at 7 p.m. Nov. 15-17 at Eastlake High School with a 1 p.m. matinee Nov. 17. Purchase tickets at the door for $10 general admission and $7 for students, children and seniors.

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