The Highlands Performing Arts Center’s Youth Theater Program presented “Great Scenes from Shakespeare’s Plays (with Combat)” at Friday’s opener in Highlands. The troupe performed in front of an audience of their peers, including students and teachers from Highlands School, Blue Ridge School/Early College, Summit Charter School, Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School, and Homeschoolers. Director Megan Potts said everyone involved in the show stepped up and delivered when it mattered.
“I think they did a wonderful job, I’m so proud of them,” said Potts. “Most of them have never been on stage before. And not just those on stage, the make-up designers, sound board and light technicians, and Sayla (Roman) managing the front of the house and marketing, they all did great.”
The performance includes scenes from “Romeo and Juliet” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and has a healthy dose of both comedy and combat. Combine action-packed choreography with Shakespeare’s rhythmic-poetic form of writing (i.e. Almost every line could qualify as its own tongue-twister) and there is potential for things to go awry.
No one was injured, and in a way that was the problem. During an epic sword-battle between Mercutio and Tybalt, a slight prop malfunction prevented blood to gush from the wound. Once actor Cody Nastasic of Highlands School realized it wasn’t happening, he improvised.
“I was getting pretty frustrated because it was supposed to pop,” said Nastasic. “I finally got it after the third try.”
Until that successful third attempt, Nastasic covered the “wound” with his arm and didn’t skip a beat on stage.
“He handled it like a pro,” said Potts. “We started with improv and when something goes wrong, they can go back to that. I always tell them, the audience doesn’t have the script, so they don’t know anything is wrong.”
Highlands junior Jordan Powell plays Romeo and Oberon and is no stranger to theater. He said it was exciting performing in front of other students and he felt good up on stage.
“I think we did really good, especially for a first performance,” said Powell. “But it definitely went well.”
Homeschooler River Trent plays Petruchio and Flute and in one scene had to maintain a high-pitched voice for several lines to the delight of audience.
“I wasn’t nervous because I‘ve been doing this for 8 years, but that (high-pitch) voice took a lot of practice,” said Trent. “It went well today and we want to keep up the energy for the next two shows.”
Confidence is high amongst cast members that with a couple tweaks in their performance the next two shows could be even better.
“I think I did as good as I could have hoped for,” said Darius Arnold who plays Tybalt and Tom Snout. “That doesn’t mean I can’t do better in the future.”
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