I recently sat down with the Director of Theatre at Celebration High School to chat about the department and find out about upcoming productions. The big news this year is the return to the One Act Festival for Off Book Productions and the return of the annual musical beloved by so many in our community.
Over the years, CHS’s student repertory theatre company, Off Book Productions, has brought home many awards for their one-act productions, but last year the group did not attend the festival. Why not?
It was a difficult decision to not go to the One-Act Festival last year. Our theatre facility calendar is set up every spring for the following year. We coordinate band concerts, choir concerts and other school events, while at the same time set up the dates the theatre department will need for rehearsals and productions. We had penciled in when we believed the One-Act Festival would be, but unfortunately the Festival moved their dates and we simply could not fit it into our schedule.
Are you taking a one act to the festival this year?
We are! We are taking a cut version of this fall’s production of Silent Sky by Lauren Gunderson. The play is a based on the true story of Henrietta Leavitt, one of the early “computers” in Harvard’s astronomy department. Working with a group of several other brilliant women, Henrietta examined photographic star plates in order to measure and catalog the brightness of stars. Similar to the story in the movie “Hidden Figures,” these women were not given the opportunities the men were given and yet their discoveries changed astronomy.
When is the festival?
This year’s festival is December 6 and 7. We will load up our set and take it to Eau Gallie High School in Melbourne that weekend to compete. Off Book is already hard at work, redesigning sets for travel and shortening the length of the show.
Last year, CHS did not produce their annual spring musical. Will there be one this year?
Yes, there will be a musical this year. It was wonderful to take a break last year from the immensity of mounting a musical. I also think the student’s and the audience’s powerful experience with last year’s production of the play, The Laramie Project, was something worth doing. I’ve never had audience members thank me for doing a production. It was a reaction I did not expect and was very humbling.
And what will the musical be?
We are very excited to announce we will be mounting Mamma Mia! in February. I grew up listening to ABBA with my dad and there is something about that music that just makes you feel good. The show threads all their greatest songs together with some really fun and cheesy plotting. This is not a show to make a statement or challenge deeper thinking, but one to sit back and thoroughly enjoy. So if you find yourself singing along to “Dancing Queen” or the title track, “Mamma Mia,” when it plays on the radio, this is the show for you!
What are the show dates and times?
The show runs February 21 – 23 and February 28 – March 1. Show times are 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets will be $10.
Any other shows in the works this year?
Off Book Productions will close their season with A Feminine Ending by Sarah Treem. The play is a bittersweet comedy about a young woman who gets caught up doing things for her fiancé’s career over her own and then tries to discover what she truly wants out of her life. The plays runs April 17 – 19. Show times on Friday and Saturday will be 7 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.. Tickets will be $10.
How can folks keep up to date on the theatre department and these shows?
There are a number of ways to follow us, many of which including “following us”. Off Book has a Facebook page @chs.theatre.obproductions and an Instagram account @chs_offbook. People can also keep in touch via the Celebration High School’s Facebook page @celebrationhighschool. Of course, you can always call the high school, 321-939-6600.
By Joan Miller
The above article appears in the December 2019 edition of the Celebration News