Two Odd Plays
City High drama department is producing two plays for the fall season, each with a single gender class.
September 25, 2015
The Odd Couple
Ellis Fontana ‘16 plays cards surrounded by four people. No one makes a move, for none of them know how to play the game, but are only practicing to look the part for one of this year’s two fall plays, The Odd Couple. The actors are learning to play poker with help from the directors, who want their cast to feel and look the part.
“The directors wanted us to actually learn how to play poker,” Fontana said. “They want us to play the game onstage, practicing, learning all the moves, how to deal, how to fold, et cetera.”
Fontana has been a part of City High’s productions since his freshmen year.
“I’ve been involved with every production since I’ve been here,” Fontana explained. “It’s been a lot of watching and understanding.” Fontana believes his experience helped him land one of the leading roles of Felix Unagar. Described as a “neat freak” and “cleanaholic,” he moves into his friend’s apartment after his marriage begins to fail.
“He’s obsessed with cleaning,” Fontana explained. “It’s almost on this OCD level.”
“The Odd Couple is a good comedy that I think a lot of people are going to enjoy.” Nyiso Poulakos ‘17, who plays the other lead, Oscar Madison, said. Madison is a gluttonous sportswriter who allows Felix to move into his apartment after his wife leaves him. Poulakos believes experience was one of the deciding factors in being cast into a main role.
“It’s a lot of pressure, but it’s really rewarding,” Poulakos explained. “I’ve been involved in the City drama department since freshmen year. It feels good to be in top of the situation.” Poulakos stated that the cast of The Odd Couple, although small, brings in people from all walks of life.
“The cast is really good,” Poulakos said. “We have a lot of different personalities in the cast. A lot of us are really getting to know each other through our rehearsals.”
Fontana explained how the cast’s size affects the things, too.
“It’s small, which is both good and bad,” he said. “A lot of us are experienced, but some of us are not. But its definately a lot of talent.”
Peters agrees that the cast is up for the challenge.
“Half of the cast has had lead roles before, and half has not. It’s really fun to watch them,” Peters said.
He added that the cast is getting used to their respective roles, and growing tighter as a whole.
“They’re all adapting really quickly. They all seem really comfortable.”
Fontana attributes this success to Peter’s experience.
“It really helps that he has played the role before,” Fontana explained. Peters has played the role of Felix, once in community theater and once for a teacher benefit. Fontana said that Peters encouraged him to try for the role of Felix.
“I remember [what] he told me after my audition,” Fontana began. “He said, ‘Ellis if you’re going to be in this role, afterwards you’re going to feel like you’ve been in a trainwreck.’”
Poulakos agrees that the roles they play will be a challenge. However, he believes that Oscar is something he can pull off.
“I’ve begun to see more of Oscar in myself,” Poulakos said. “I wasn’t in the play last year, which is is good thing because there wasn’t a role I fit in last year, but I’m excited to play the role of a slouch this fall.”
At rehearsal, the atmosphere is busy and exciting. As the first scene is rehearsed, director Havilah Peters calls for pauses to give tips or add actions to a certain part of the scene.
“We have such a great cast,” Peters said.
Steel Magnolias is a play full of tragedy, drama, and comedy. A small beauty shop in northwest Louisiana is brought to life with laughter and tears. The City High drama program and cast will bring this narrative to life on the Opstadt stage. The cast and crew have started their preparations for what will be an intense eight weeks until the opening night on Oct 31st in Opstad.
“Packing in rehearsal after rehearsal within the next eight weeks is likely to take a toll,” Peters said. “It will require a lot of work for everyone involved.
There are moments of intensity in the play, especially towards the end that will require near-real theatrics. This intensity will challenge the cast, including Cassidy Slater-Scott ‘17, who has the role of the main character, Shelby.
“This is my first big role, and I’ve been putting in a lot of time practicing,” Slater-Scott said. “I don’t want to disappoint.”
Slater-Scott believes Shelby is a character that speaks the truth, speaks her mind, and expresses her beliefs well.
“She’s a really challenging character, and I like that,” she said.
Jilly Cooke ‘17, playing the role of Ouiser, the local curmudgeonly lady, will bring her experience from previous musical productions to provide comic relief
“This is the first play I’ve done at City High,” Cooke said. “It’s another chance to show off my comedic chops.”
Cooke says that the play is very realistic to life; full of ups and downs.
“It’s a simple play about Southern women in a shop talking about life,” she said.
Lizzie Carrell ‘18, playing the role M’Lynn, the mother Shelby, feels especially connected to the play. Having lost two aunts to gun violence about a year and a half ago, Lizzie says that she can relate to the strong emotions of the women in the play.
“I love being in plays,” Carrell said. “You can really become the character.”
Steel Magnolias, a famous and popular play, brings with it a degree of pressure, according to Carrel.
“People know Steel Magnolias. The play sticks with you,” she said. “You want to show it justice.”
Peters believes that the cast’s size plays a role in its dynamic.
“With any cast, cohesiveness is important. With a small cast, it surfaces quickly,” Peters said. “All of them are compassionate women. They like to have fun and encourage each other.”
The character Shelby is a diabetic, and in the dialogue talks with her mother M’Lynn about how it could be life threatening to have a child. This particular dialogue resonates with Peters, who is a mother herself.
“Having a child of my own, I can empathize with her want to have a baby,” Peters said. “It gives me a good perspective on how she feels inside.”