Tag Archives: JBHS Drama

JBHS Drama Presents Peter And The Starcatcher

John Burroughs High School’s Drama Department opens Peter and the Starcatcher on Friday, November 18, at the high school auditorium. The play runs through Sunday, November 20.

Based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, the Tony-award-winning Broadway drama written by Rick Elice with music by Wayne Barker, tells the origins of Peter Pan, Wendy, the Lost Boys and Captain Hook.

Photo Courtesy JBHS Drama

Photo Courtesy JBHS Drama

“This is one of the most high energy casts I have ever had the pleasure to work with and they have worked incredibly hard to bring this fantastic adventure to life,” commented Drama Director Guy Myers. “Their spirit of collaboration and generosity with each other during the rehearsal process has made working on this play so special.”

“An inventive theatre experience, Peter and the Starcatcher is for all ages and promises to be fun for the whole family!”

Photo Courtesy JBHS Drama

Photo Courtesy JBHS Drama

Senior Maddie Seiffert portrays Starcatcher-in-training Molly Aster who joins a group of orphans after their ship is taken over by the pirate Black Stache, played by senior Sully Zack.

Black Stache is “hands down one of my favorite roles out of every show I’ve been in, ” said Zack. “Black Stache is the classic character Captain Hook, before he becomes Captain Hook. The Stache is ‘cunning,’ ‘beguiling,’ and ‘so much more than a ‘lawn on the lip.'”

Photo Courtesy JBHS Drama

Photo Courtesy JBHS Drama

“And through the show, you will see him transition from the Stache into the classic Captain Hook character we all know,” he added. “I’m so thrilled, and lucky, to get to play such a zany and hilarious role.”

“Playing Molly Aster has been a dream of mine since I first saw Starcatcher,” commented Seiffert. “She’s the hero in a time when girls weren’t allowed to be leaders, and she’s a strong and powerful character.”

Photo Courtesy JBHS Drama

Photo Courtesy JBHS Drama

“I couldn’t be happier performing Starcatcher with this cast. I’ve gotten so close with our lost boys and working alongside Jack on his first show has been so much fun. He’s really talented and a joy to work with. Sully blows me away every rehearsal and makes us all choke back laughs with his comedic genius. Mr. Myers gave us the true dream team and it shows on stage. Our connection is indescribable, and I wouldn’t change a single thing.”

Sophomore Jack Weerts plays young Peter.

“It’s been a lot of fun to be part of such an imaginative and hilarious play and an honor to share the stage with this talented cast,” said Weerts. “One thing I love most about the play is that it will entertain and immerse both children and adults alike.”

“I am grateful to Mr. Meyers, the tech crew, our musical accompaniment, and all the people behind the scenes that have helped in bringing this magical story to life.”

Photo Courtesy JBHS Drama

Photo Courtesy JBHS Drama

“It is an experience unlike any other,” added student producer, senior Talya Cohen. “What I enjoy is seeing the actors learn and grow into their characters, while also seeing the show come together piece by piece. Also, as a senior it’s pretty incredible to see the new faces learning how our program puts on great shows!”

“The rehearsal process has truly been a blast! Our show is very unique in the sense that everyone in the cast also doubles as a member of the ensemble, playing sea folk, or crazy Mollusk natives or even walls!” enthused Zack. “Because of this, I’ve gotten to spend time with old friends, as well as make new ones, and our Starcatcher cast has become a family–it’s really something special.”

Photo Courtesy JBHS Drama

Photo Courtesy JBHS Drama

“I want to thank everyone in the cast, for their hard work and the energy they bring to our show!” added Zack. “I also want to thank our Peter (Jack Weerts) and our StarCatcher (Maddie Seiffert), for their hard work, Paris Stacy, who brilliantly plays the role of Smee, my right hand man, and of course, Mr. Myers, our drama teacher and director, for his vision and guidance and his dedication. Prosciutto!”

Tickets for JHBS Drama’s production of Peter and the Starcatcher are available at the door and online at this link. The show begins at 7:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Photo Courtesy JBHS Drama

Photo Courtesy JBHS Drama

 

Burroughs Graduate Josh Strobl Wins Best Actor In National Musical Theater Competition

Recent John Burroughs High School graduate Josh Strobl won Best Performance by an Actor at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards (NHSMTA) Monday evening, June 27, in New York City. He received a $10,000 scholarship and was offered a full scholarship to NYU/Tisch School of the Arts.

Strobl gave an impassioned performance of “Maria” from West Side Story in the finals, going last in the group of eight male finalists. He had prepared the song in advance of the competition, working with Kenny Ortega, a Los Angeles movie producer and choreographer for Michael Jackson.

Best Actor winner Josh Strobl performs "Maria" during the finals of the 2016 National High School Musical Theatre Awards at the Minskoff Theatre in New York City on June 27, 2016.  Photo Courtesy of Henry McGee

Best Actor winner Josh Strobl performs “Maria” during the finals of the 2016 National High School Musical Theatre Awards at the Minskoff Theatre in New York City on June 27, 2016. Photo Courtesy of Henry McGee

“It felt incredible,” he said about the performance on the Minskoff Theatre stage. “It was because of the audience propelling me forward and from the other 61 nominees support, I was able to give one of the best performances ever.”

Since June 19, Strobl and the other nominees – 31 male and 31 female in all – spent long days of rehearsals with Broadway professionals and auditions in front of the judging panel.

First the competitors learned an eight-minute opening number, including choreographed dancing and singing. Then they were separated into two groups – medley and production.

Strobl was part of the medley group, during which he performed part of “It Takes Two,” which his character Link Larkin sang in the Burroughs’ production of Hairspray.

Best Actor Josh Strobl and Best Actress Amina Faye at the 2016 National High School Musical Theatre Awards After-Party at John's Pizzeria in New York City on June 27, 2016.  Photo Courtesy of Henry McGee

Best Actor Josh Strobl and Best Actress Amina Faye at the 2016 National High School Musical Theatre Awards After-Party at John’s Pizzeria in New York City on June 27, 2016. Photo Courtesy of Henry McGee

Strobl credits his coach during the NHSMTA competition, Eden Espinosa, who performed as Elphaba in Broadway’s Wicked, with helping him prepare for the finals.

“She taught me really valuable things about performance and how to be a real person on the stage,” he said, “Which I was then took to the finals.”

Winners were selected by a panel of judges comprised of notable theater professionals including Tony Award-winning producers, award-winning casting experts and industry professionals such as Kent Gash, Rachel Hoffman, Alecia Parker, Tara Rubin, Nick Scandalios and Kate Shindle.

Additional judges who selected the groups in which the students performed were Paul Canaan, Wayne Cilento, Kent Gash, Stephanie Klapper and Cesar Rocha.

The 2016 National High School Musical Theatre Awards Red Carpet at the Minskoff Theatre in New York City on June 27, 2016.  Photo Courtesy of Henry McGee

The 2016 National High School Musical Theatre Awards Red Carpet at the Minskoff Theatre in New York City on June 27, 2016. Photo Courtesy of Henry McGee

Amina Faye won Best Performance by an Actress. A number of other competitors in the 2016 finals won recognition and scholarships as well.

Strobl won Best Actor in the regional Jerry Herman Awards, held at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, in May 2016. He was nominated for his role of Link Larkin in the Burroughs 2016 production of Hairspray by Southern California judges.

His win at the Jerry Herman Awards in May qualified him to travel to New York City and compete in the National High School Musical Theatre Awards.

Held on the stage of the Minskoff Theatre, current home of The Lion King, the NHSMTA was hosted by Zachary Levi, who currently stars on Broadway in Roundabout Theatre Company’s She Loves Me at Studio 54.

NHSTMA’s prestigious annual competition is also known as The Jimmy™ Award; it’s named in honor of James M. Nederlander, Chairman of Nederlander Producing Company of America.

Best Actress Amina Faye, host Zachary Levi and Best Actor Josh Strobl at the 2016 National High School Musical Theatre Awards After-Party at John's Pizzeria in New York City on June 27, 2016.  Photo Courtesy of Henry McGee

Best Actress Amina Faye, host Zachary Levi and Best Actor Josh Strobl at the 2016 National High School Musical Theatre Awards After-Party at John’s Pizzeria in New York City on June 27, 2016. Photo Courtesy of Henry McGee

The annual Broadway-focused talent showcase featured performances by all 62 nominees and solos by select finalists. Their debut on a Broadway stage followed 9 days of rehearsals and private coaching with faculty at the New Studio on Broadway, NYU Tisch School of the Arts Department of Drama and other professionals. Students also enjoyed a performance of On Your Feet! including a talkback with the cast.

The 2016 National High School Musical Theatre Awards introduced a new format for the program in order to accommodate more regional awards programs and provide opportunities for more students to experience Broadway and New York City. This year there were 62 students representing 31 programs, compared to last year’s 52 students representing 26 programs.

Strobl not only played the lead role of Link Larkin in JBHS Drama’s production of Hairspray this past year as a senior, but he also was a soloist and president of the award-winning Powerhouse, the top mixed show choir of JBHS’ Vocal Music Association.

Although Strobl did win a full scholarship to NYU/Tisch, he will attend his first choice school, University of Michigan, and begin studies towards a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theater in the fall.

JBHS Drama Presents “George Washington Slept Here”

John Burroughs High School Drama program presents its final play of the 2015-16 season with George Washington Slept Here on May 6, 7 and 8 in the school auditorium.

A Broadway hit which debuted in 1940, George Washington Slept Here chronicles the comedic antics that ensue when some New York City folk buy a fixer-upper in the pastoral Pennsylvania countryside.

Photo By Lisa Paredes

Photo By Lisa Paredes

Written by the classic stage comedy team of George Kaufman and Moss Hart, the play begins simply enough when Newton Fuller, portrayed by senior Daniel Beimford, buys a country home in need of some repairs.

“Owning a new home brings on new problems from the expected to the ridiculous. The roof leaks but they have no water. They can’t get to their own home because the obnoxious neighbors own the very road that leads to their doorstep,” explaines JBHS Drama Director Guy Myers.

Photo Courtesy of Guy Myers

Photo Courtesy of Guy Myers

“The undisturbed peace they were seeking is interrupted by an invasion of weekend guests and a couple of very high maintenance relatives. Add in a pair of summer theatre actors bringing their own personal drama, a bratty nephew getting in the way, an onslaught of the seventeen year locusts and a possible bank foreclosure, and audiences are sure to enjoy watching Newton and his family try to save their dream home!”

“This is a classy show with a hilarious ending. Playing opposite my dear friends from the past four years has been incredibly special,” commented senior Madison Mayer who plays Annabelle Fuller.

Photo Courtesy of Guy Myers

Photo Courtesy of Guy Myers

“I’m extremely lucky to have gained theatrical experiences as well as life long friendships through the drama program here at JBHS, and this is the perfect show to wrap up my time here.”

“I’m lucky enough to get to play Hester, the maid, alongside my friend Faith playing the cook,” said junior Maddie Seiffert. “We have a lot of fun backstage with tech crew since this is an incredibly complicated tech show and we are all in it together.”

“Tech is doing a great job and being very patient with us as we destroy the set every night and it’s honestly been just a blast backstage! I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

Photo By Lisa Paredes

Photo By Lisa Paredes

“This year’s students have set a new standard for professionalism, talent, and dedication,” added Myers. “We’ve had so much fun working together on this show, and I think that audiences will see that on opening night.”

“This play is all about home being what you put into it and the people you spend your life with, and it has been a treasure to build this home with the drama and tech students.”

George Washington Slept Here runs Friday and Saturday, May 6 and 7, at 7:00 p.m. at the John Burroughs High School Auditorium and ends with a matinee on Sunday, May 8, at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are available at the box office before the shows or online here.

Photo Courtesy of Guy Myers

Photo Courtesy of Guy Myers

JBHS Students Entertain With “Hairspray”

Students in the drama, musical theater, vocal and instrumental music and dance programs at John Burroughs High School entertained nearly two thousand attendees over three shows this past weekend, February 5-7, with the musical Hairspray.

Directed by JBHS Drama Director Guy Myers, the student stage production of the musical adaptation of John Waters’ movie Hairspray, took audiences back to the early 1960s Baltimore, complete with overt racism and strict gender roles.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Junior Aubrianna Rohan, in the role of protagonist Tracy Turnblad, impressed with her vocal skills and acting chops.

Students from JBHS’ world-renowned vocal music program, directed by Brendan Jennings who also provided vocal direction for Hairspray, wowed the crowd with their singing and harmonizing.

Many of the students gave stand-out performances, including junior Zach Guerrero in the role of Tracy’s mother Edna Turnblad, made famous on the screen and stage by Divine and John Travolta.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

As Edna’s husband Wilbur, junior Sully Zack provided spot-on comic moments and an eye-popping array of colorful garb from the 1960s.

Senior Madison Mayer, as the antagonist Velma Von Tussle, was in excellent form as well.

A live orchestra conducted by JBHS Instrumental Music head Taylor Arakelian included many students from the high school instrumental music program.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Tech, lighting and stage support, under the direction of Jon King, was carried out by JBHS students in the Tech Crew program. Tech Crew put together the actual sets from the Las Vegas production of Hairspray, complete with lights, doors, engines and mechanical parts.

Burroughs High School’s Drama and Musical Theater program puts on two plays and one musical every year. Next up for the thespians will be George Washington Slept Here on May 6, 7 and 8.

JBHS “Hairspray” Opens With High Energy, Upbeat Attitude

John Burroughs High School students present the musical Hairspray at the high school auditorium Friday through Sunday, February 5 – 7. Hairspray tells the story of high school outcast Tracy Turnblad who realizes her dream of becoming a regular dancer on the popular Corny Collins Show.

Tracy uses her newfound popularity to try to change the segregation in her local 1960s Baltimore society, while going head to head with the reigning Teen Queen and turning the teen scene and the status quo upside down.

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Directed by JBHS Drama head Guy Myers, with vocal direction by Vocal Music Director Brendan Jennings and a live orchestra conducted by high school Instrumental Music teacher Taylor Arakelian, the musical adaptation is based on the John Waters’ movie Hairspray.

Hairspray is high energy fun onstage, but there is just as much going on backstage during the show with complicated sets, multiple costume changes and almost 50 wigs!” commented Myers. “The cast and crew have been incredibly professional in dealing with the rented sets from the Vegas production of Hairspray, which was part of the national tour.”

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“This production is more than just another high school musical; it is going to be an event!” he added.

Members of the JBHS drama, musical theater, vocal music and dance programs have spent an intense month of preparation for the performance.

“The drama program at John Burroughs High School is honestly so amazing and unlike anything I have come across in my years of acting,” commented junior Zach Guerrero, who portrays the witty and outspoken Edna Turnblad, Tracy’s mother.

“I had recently moved from Arizona to pursue my dreams and the level of performance that Hairspray has to offer is beyond the standards of productions I have participated in.”

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“I am so excited to be playing my dream role as Edna Turnblad. I am so honored to be directed under Mr. Myers and to be working with such talented actors in the cast,” Guerrero added. “The show is extravagant and thrilling and I am excited to bring it to the public!”

“This production of Hairspray at JBHS is hands down one of the most amazing things I’ve ever had the pleasure of being apart of,” said junior Aubrianna Rohan. “Being able to portray the iconic role of Tracy Turnblad had been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember.”

“The outstanding director, Mr. Guy Myers, has allowed the entire cast to explore their creative ability as actors and actresses, as well as have a blast while doing it. We have all worked so hard on this show and I am so excited to welcome everyone to the 60s!”

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Hairspray has been an incredibly entertaining experience. I’ve loved playing the shockingly cruel villain named Velma,” said senior Madison Mayer about her turn as Velma Von Tussle. “The music, the message and the cast make for an environment that makes smiles multiply. It’s a beautiful story about the importance of equality told through the rhythmic music of the era.”

With music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman and the book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan, Hairspray won eight Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score. The musical features popular songs “Good Morning, Baltimore,” “I Can Hear the Bells,” “Without Love” and “You Can’t Stop the Beat.”

Hairspray runs Friday, February 5, and Saturday, February 6, at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, February 7, at 12:00 p.m. Tickets are $25 for priority seating, $15 for adults and $10 for seniors and students and are available in advance here or at the box office before the show.

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

JBHS Drama “Inherit The Wind” Opens Friday

John Burroughs High School students present Inherit The Wind this Friday through Sunday, November 20 – 22. The intense drama based on the Scopes “Monkey” Trial of 1925 focuses on the still-relevant public and legal discourse of personal religious beliefs conflicting with scientific facts and religious freedom in the United States.

“With such a large cast, heavy subject matter and a live monkey, Inherit the Wind has certainly been one of the most challenging shows we have taken on,” commented JBHS Drama Director Guy Myers. “At some points, the dialogue of the play sounds as if it could have been  written today, touching on the timeless issues having to do with our basic freedoms.”

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“The drama students are handling the complicated and rich scenes with humanity and are breathing life into these characters,” he added. “I am so proud to work with such dedicated thespians, tech students and parent volunteers to bring this important story to the stage.”

Written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, Inherit The Wind takes its title from the book of Proverbs in the Bible: “He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind.”

Inherit The Wind follows the story of Tennessee school teacher Bertram Cates, arrested for teaching his students Darwin’s theory of evolution. National attention focuses on the small town as two famous lawyers battle in the Hillsboro courthouse. The defendant’s girlfriend Rachel is also the daughter of the town preacher, and as the story develops, everyone in the town must choose sides.

Daniel Beimford (Matthew Harrison Brady) and Madison Mayer (Rachel Brown) in Burroughs High School's "Inherit The Wind." (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Daniel Beimford (Matthew Harrison Brady) and Madison Mayer (Rachel Brown) in Burroughs High School’s “Inherit The Wind.” (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“The drama’s purpose was to criticize the then-current state of McCarthyism and also to defend intellectual freedom,” stated Lawerence, the author, on his fictionalized story. “It’s not about science versus religion. It’s about the right to think.”

“This has been a very fun show for me to be a part of,” commented student Matt Bond, who portrays reporter E.K. Hornbeck. “It’s a great senior year show because it’s a show of firsts. This is really the first show where I’ve gotten the chance to just play a total jerk, which is actually quite enjoyable to get into that character.”

“Also the big new experience is getting to work with the ever talented Squirt the Monkey!” added Bond. “Squirt’s a great actor and he’s going places man, probably a TV deal soon. Overall this show has been a great learning experience and just a lot of fun!”

Burroughs students Daniel Beimford (Matthew Harrison Brady) and Nick Apostolina (Henry Drummond) get into it during a scene from the JBHS Drama production of "Inherit The Wind." (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Burroughs students Daniel Beimford (Matthew Harrison Brady) and Nick Apostolina (Henry Drummond) get into it during a scene from the JBHS Drama production of “Inherit The Wind.” (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“I love playing Mrs. Brady. She is such a diverse character and one I’ve gotten to work with to change her perspective,” said junior Maddie Seiffert. “It is super entertaining to sit in the court room and watch Nick and Daniel banter back and forth. I wouldn’t trade the role for the world.”

Nick Apostolina portrays the defendant’s lawyer Henry Drummond and Daniel Beimford is prosecuting attorney Matthew Harrison Brady.

The show runs Friday and Saturday, November 20 and 21, at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, November 22, at 2:00 p.m. at the John Burroughs High School auditorium located at 1920 Clark Avenue in Burbank. Tickets are $12 general admission and $8 for students, seniors and faculty. Tickets are available via the JBHS Drama website and updates can be found on the JBHS Drama Facebook page.

Matt Bond (E.K. Hornbeck) and Madison Mayer (Rachel Brown) in a scene form "Inherit The Wind."(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Matt Bond (E.K. Hornbeck) and Madison Mayer (Rachel Brown) in a scene form “Inherit The Wind.”(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Burroughs Music And Comedy Night Entertains Full House At The Colony

Students, friends and family all turned out to support the Burroughs Music And Comedy Night fundraiser with a full house at The Colony Theatre Tuesday evening, November 10.

A collaboration between students in the John Burroughs High School Drama and Vocal Music programs, the evening raised money towards offsetting the cost of the annual mainstage musical at the school.

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

The 2015-16 season mainstage musical is Hairspray which runs February 5-7, 2016, on the Burroughs High School stage.

Many of the cast members of Hairspray performed songs, selected with the guidance of Drama Director Guy Myers and Vocal Music Director Brendan Jennings. Students from the Improv Club and Drama classes also presented comedic skits and improv games, drawing laughter from the audience.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

JBHS Drama next production is Inherit The Wind, on November 20, 21 and 22. The Burroughs Vocal Music Association’s next choir performance is the annual Holiday Spectacular on December 11, 12 and 13.

 

JBHS Drama And Choir Present A Night Of Comedy, Improv And Musical Theater At The Colony

John Burroughs High School students in the drama, musical theater and choir programs put on a night of comedy, improv games and musical numbers Tuesday evening, November 10, at The Colony Theatre in Burbank.

The annual fundraiser showcases performances by students in the upcoming mainstage musical, Hairspray, and comedic skits and improv from drama students. Now in its sixth year, the Burroughs High School Music & Comedy Night marks its second year on the stage at The Colony Theatre.

jbhsdrama2015

“Mr. Jennings and I help students select songs and improv games for the event,” explained Guy Myers, JBHS Drama Director, referring to JBHS Vocal Music Association Director, Brendan Jennings.

“Many students from our Improv Club also attend, so you never know who will wind up onstage in the middle of a game! This year features many classics from Broadway musicals as well as some hilarious newer material.”

Members of the JBHS Improv Crew perform at The Colony Theatre in this file photo from October 2014 .(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Members of the JBHS Improv Crew perform at The Colony Theatre in this file photo from October 2014 .(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“The purpose of the event is to help fund the mainstage musical Hairspray being put on February fifth and sixth at 7:00 p.m. and on February seventh at 12:00 p.m.,” added Myers. “With the rising costs of producing a mainstage musical, this great opportunity wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of the community to keep arts education alive in our schools.”

Tickets are $25 general admission for adults and $10 for students and seniors and include refreshments. Desserts and drinks will provided by Luther Burbank Middle School’s Catering Class under the direction of Lisa Raluy.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the curtain rises at 7:00 p.m. The Colony Theatre is located at 555 N. Third Street in Burbank. Parking is available in the parking structure on the corner of Third Street and Cypress Avenue.

Nick Apostolina and Matt Bond lead the Music & Comedy Night cast in a rousing rendition of the Blues Brothers' "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love" in this file photo from October 2014. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Nick Apostolina and Matt Bond lead the Music & Comedy Night cast in a rousing rendition of the Blues Brothers’ “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love” in this file photo from October 2014. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Time Travelers Bring Historical Figures To Life At McKinley Elementary

Students at William McKinley Elementary School were visited by five historical figures on Monday, October 12, as part of the ongoing Time Travelers program. John Burroughs High School students in Guy Myers’ Play Production class brought the characters of Sarah Goodson, Annie Sullivan, Sacagewea, John Muir and Paul Revere to life.

Madison Mayer portrayed pilgrim Sarah Goodson complete with an English accent and described what crossing the Atlantic on the Mayflower may have been like to first grade classrooms.

Madison Mayer describes the rocking of the Mayflower crossing the Atlantic Ocean. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Madison Mayer describes the rocking of the Mayflower crossing the Atlantic Ocean. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Helen Keller’s teacher, Annie Sullivan, who was herself blind, was portrayed by Maddie Seiffert. Second-graders learned about Annie Sullivan’s desire for an education in the face of challenging odds.

“This is the second year I’ve been lucky enough to play Annie Sullivan in Time Travelers,” commented Seiffert. “I love her; she’s a stubborn woman and I feel connected with her because of it.”

Helen Keller's teacher Annie Sullivan, acted by Maddie Seiffert, talks to second-graders at McKinley. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Helen Keller’s teacher Annie Sullivan, acted by Maddie Seiffert, talks to second-graders at McKinley. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“Her story is incredible and one I first learned in Mr. Myers’ classroom while reading The Miracle Worker,” she added. “It feels like full circle, starting with reading her in his class and finally playing her.”

“It’s also remarkable because while I’m learning sign language now, so I can bring that to the classroom. I make the kids spell the alphabet and if they’re fantastic, they learn more like numbers and specific signs they want to know. It’s incredible to watch their eyes light up as their fingers spell and their love of learning just beaming from their faces. Playing Annie is one of my favorite parts of the year!”

Third-graders were visited by Sarah Weaver as Sacagewea, who talked about exploration of America on the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Griffin Dooley played the role of naturalist and preservationist John Muir. He told fourth-graders about early life in Scotland, his family’s emigration to a Wisconsin farm and his travels throughout the Sierras.

Sully Zack entered the fifth-grade classrooms complete with lantern and tricorn hat, reciting the famous Henry Longfellow poem “Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.” He, too, talked about life in his particular time period in America and some of his historical actions, engaging the kids with a little humor, too.

“Traveling through time to bring the story of Paul Revere and his Midnight Ride to the excited fifth grade students at McKinley Elementary was such an awesome experience!” Zack said. “The students were so welcoming and eager to learn.”

Sully Zack bought some humor to his Time Traveler character of Paul Revere. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Sully Zack bought some humor to his Time Traveler character of Paul Revere. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“I loved being able to teach the class about the life of Paul Revere, but my favorite part had to be answering their questions– because in doing so, I  got to test not only my historical knowledge, but also my improvisation skills,” he went on to say. “I had such a blast, and I can’t wait to do it again.”

Teachers at McKinley Elementary prepared their students in advance for each Time Travelers’ visit. After each Time Traveler talk, elementary students then asked questions about the character and their life in America.

The Time Travelers program was created in 2003 by Joyce Costanza-Moskowitz and first visited Ralph Waldo Emerson Elementary School. Adult volunteers portrayed the Travelers until 2013 when Burroughs High School students first stepped into the roles, taking the program to Bret Harte Elementary, according to program coordinator Lisa Dyson.

Sarah Weaver as Sacagewea described life on the Lewis & Clark Expedition. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Sarah Weaver as Sacagewea described life on the Lewis & Clark Expedition. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Burbank High School students went to Miller in 2014 and McKinley Elementary joined the progam that same year. JBHS and BHS students visit elementary schools in Burbank in the fall and spring, portraying 10 different characters every year.

“As co-author of the book, Time Travelers: A Living History, along with Shiela Cavalluzzi, I remember our great passion for wanting to bring more history into our children’s classrooms… thus this program was born,” commented Costanza-Moskowitz. “I cannot tell you how gratifying it is to see our ‘baby’ is still vital and thriving in elementary schools today!”

Griffin Dooley portrayed naturalist John Muir for the Time Travelers program at McKinley Elementary. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Griffin Dooley portrayed naturalist John Muir for the Time Travelers program at McKinley Elementary. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“Kids learn in so many just-being-talked-about kinds of ways, so putting a visual, auditory and tactile program like Time Travelers in front of them is or should be, a no-brainer,” she continued.

“Thank you to Lisa Dyson and the many others who came before her, in keeping Time Travelers alive and well. One might say you’re making history happen. Today!

Burbank High drama students plan to take the Time Travelers program back to Emerson, where the very first Time Travelers began.

Support from high school drama teachers Myers and BHS’ Ted DeVirgilis is vital to the success of the program, added Dyson.

She also thanked the participating elementary school PTAs for their ongoing support of the program since its inception.

“This is wonderful opportunity for drama students to research their character(s), perform that character multiple times in front of different audiences,and be able to improvise as their Time Traveler during Q & A sessions.,” commented Dyson. “It’s excellent real world training for students who wish to continue studies in theatre arts. And its fun!”

The Comedy Of Errors Makes For A Perfect Night At JBHS

Last Friday night at John Burroughs High School Auditorium, we all laughed ourselves silly over Shakespeare’s delightful farce, The Comedy of Errors. And you know what’s really funny? For high school ticket prices, we enjoyed one of the best shows in greater LA in a studio-quality venue. JBHS drama students are consistently punching way above their weight, delivering performances worthy of college seniors.

So be sure to catch their Saturday night or Sunday afternoon performance this weekend.

(Photo Courtesy Kathy Flynn/Wicked Goddess Photography)

(Photo Courtesy Kathy Flynn/Wicked Goddess Photography)

The set up: The Comedy of Errors centers on two sets of identical twins. They were separated when very young and so each twin is unaware of the other. Years later, one set of twins –Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant Dromio–arrive in Ephesus. Coincidentally, Ephesus is home to the other set of twins. Coincidentally, the twins from Ephesus have exactly the same names as their counterparts from Syracuse. Comedy tonight!

Director GUY MYERS made the inspired choice of retaining the original dialogue and cadences of Shakespeare, while making the instrumental music a wiseacre Greek chorus of today’s pop tunes. Guy knew that his actors could handle the iambic pentameter, which they did brilliantly, getting across every one of Shakespeare’s zingers. And the music allowed the actors to further showcase their comedic gifts.

(Photo Courtesy Kathy Flynn/Wicked Goddess Photography)

(Photo Courtesy Kathy Flynn/Wicked Goddess Photography)

There were wonderful instances of physical comedy, even in the details. What might have been a routine scene change in other performances became instead a bit that drew bursts of laughter. What might have been stereotypical wailing and weeping instead became a running gag. Even the sword fight had the comedic flair of a classic Zorro movie.

Senior SAWYER PATTERSON (playing Antipholus of Ephesus) and junior DANIEL BEIMFORD (Antipholus of Syracuse) do a super job of portraying two men used to being in control, but now being thrown into confusion with blustering as their Plan B coping strategy.

Senior JAMES CONKLE (Dromio of Ephesus) and Junior NICK APOSTOLINA (Dromio of Syracuse) both do tremendous jobs as the servants who think their masters have gone mad. Nick, who was the tragic protagonist of Flowers For Algernon, showed us in The Comedy of Errors that he can pin the needle of the laugh meter and wrap it around itself. (Especially in scenes with MAX FRANCIS, who plays Adriana’s towering kitchen maid.)

(Photo Courtesy Kathy Flynn/Wicked Goddess Photography)

(Photo Courtesy Kathy Flynn/Wicked Goddess Photography)

Other standout performers include MATT BOND (Egeon, father of the Antipholus twins) who got the play off to a laughing start. MADISON MAYER (Adriana, wife of Antipholus of Ephesus) made you believe she was a much older woman suddenly having to confront all her insecurities, and being strong enough to do so. SAMANTHA RUBIN gave us a courtesan who doesn’t take any guff, to great effect. And MINA SHADRICK (sister to Adriana) manages to keep her head while everyone around her seems to be losing theirs, and keeps the comedy going as well.

Everyone in the cast, even those with the most minor roles, held up their end and did solid work. They filled out their marvelous costumes and lived up to the major-theatre-quality lighting and sound.

(Photo Courtesy Kathy Flynn/Wicked Goddess Photography)

(Photo Courtesy Kathy Flynn/Wicked Goddess Photography)

They also made clear the subtext of the play. We’re shown a world where women are second-class citizens and the routine beating of servants is considered normal. But the mix up of the two sets of twins leads to commands seemingly not being followed and women having to, however briefly, take charge. Underneath the comedy is the fragility of such a society and those who presumably run it. When the mix up is revealed at the end of the play, Guy makes another great call by making the sighs of relief palpable. The comedy or errors is over and the people of Ephesus can go back to pursuing their customary, not-so-comedic errors of their ways.

The Comedy of Errors continues today, May 9 at 7:00 p.m. and tomorrow, May 10 at 2 p.m. at the John Burroughs High School Auditorium located at 1920 W. Clark Avenue in Burbank. Tickets are $12 general admission, $8 for students, faculty and seniors. Tickets may be purchased in advance via this link.