Archive for Wednesday, March 3, 2010

DHS students tackle two dramas for spring

Courtney Goodin as Ma Joad comforts her son Tom, played by Derrick Mathern, in a scene for the De Soto High School play “The Grapes of Wrath.” It is one of two plays with "Steel Magnolias" De Soto High School students are performing this week.

Courtney Goodin as Ma Joad comforts her son Tom, played by Derrick Mathern, in a scene for the De Soto High School play “The Grapes of Wrath.” It is one of two plays with "Steel Magnolias" De Soto High School students are performing this week.

March 3, 2010

Local theater lovers will get a double dip this weekend from De Soto High School students as they present two dramas for the school’s annual spring play.

This is the first year the school will have two plays going on at the same time. It’s also the first time that both plays are relatively gender specific.

There will be an all-female cast stars in “Steel Magnolias,” while a mostly male cast stars in “The Grapes of Wrath.”

Erin van Voorst, director, said she decided on the two plays because she wanted to provide opportunities for more students.

“We had enough students to do two shows,” she said. “‘The Grapes of Wrath’ is heavy on boys, so I wanted to make sure the girls had an opportunity to be in a play.”

The rehearsal process began in early December to provide time to produce both plays.

“It actually turned out a lot easier than expected,” van Voorst said. “We were a little concerned with the snow days, but we caught up and put it together.”

John Buery, senior and cast member in “The Grapes of Wrath,” said the process of having two shows was nerve-wracking at times.

“It was a risky decision to do two dramas,” he said. “'Grapes of Wrath' is pretty college level, but it’s all coming together.”

Stephanie Hopkins, senior and cast member in “Steel Magnolias” said two plays and a small cast had some challenges.

“We rely on each other a lot in ‘Steel Magnolias,’” she said. “We’re all good friends.”

Friendships among cast members helped but there was frustrations involved with having a cast with so few members, said senior Sam Israel, who plays M'Lynn in "Steel Magnolias."

The casts split time rehearsing. “Steel Magnolias” would take the stage from 3:30 to 4:45 p.m., then the cast of “The Grapes of Wrath” would take over from 4:45 to 6:15 p.m., van Voorst said.

“We didn’t get as much practice time on stage, but we did read-throughs in the other room,” Sam said.

Both plays fit in the dramatic genera, something the school's students haven’t delved into in recent plays, van Voorst said.

“I wanted them to stretch their acting skills,” she said.

John said at times it was hard to keep the energy up in “The Grapes of Wrath”.

“It’s a sad story through and through,” he said of the play adapted from John Steinbeck’s novel of the same name.

“The Grapes of Wrath” is the follows the Joad family's desperate journey during the Great Depression. The family lured to California with the promise of work after the Dust Bowl, hard times and agricultural changes drive them from their Oklahoma farm.

Tyler Gregg, senior and cast member of “The Grapes of Wrath,” said the story is uplifting in its message.

“It’s about how families can come together and persevere,” he said.

Sam said “Steel Magnolias” had been referred as a funny, crying show.

“The character development is really important,” she said. “You go from joking to crying in the same scene.”

“Steel Magnolias” centers around a group of six women in southern Louisiana in the 1980s. The entire play takes place in a beauty shop.

“It’s a less serious play,” Stephanie said. “It will make you smile and cry in the same breath.”

The plays offer something for everyone, van Voorst.

“It really depends on what you’re interested in,’ she said. “Both have funny and sad moments.”

“Steel Magnolias” opened on Wednesday and continues at 7 p.m. on Friday. “The Grapes of Wrath” debuts at 7 p.m. Thursday and shows again at 7 p.m. Saturday.

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