hhs theater

The line “Saucy Boy!” spoken by a Harrisburg High School senior, Noah Norwine, has become a favorite among the cast and crew of Romeo and Juliet. The production is directed by Mr. Michael Smith, who teaches drama and speech. He has been creating theatre for almost forty years and directing shows at the high school for twelve years. When asked about why he chose Romeo and Juliet, Mr. Smith explained that Harrisburg High School produces Shakespeare every five years so that all students have a chance to experience it. After that, he goes on to explain that he chose Romeo and Juliet because it is a popular piece.

Although many assume that Shakespeare's plays usually bring fear due to a language barrier, Mr. Smith strives to prove to the students putting on the play and the audience viewing the show that Shakespearian plays are accessible. As well as that goal, Mr. Smith has another to teach students: “I brought the audience up onto the stage to create a three-quarters thrust playing space for this production. Our student actors and technicians had to learn a different way of performing. Working in an intimate space where the audience is just a couple of feet away from the performer on three sides requires a change in blocking that can challenge our well-trained actors used to turning out on a proscenium stage.”

There are many different reasons why people join theatre. Claire McElory, a sophomore at HHS, states, “I got into theatre because my family has always been in it. I grew up on show toons and my older siblings' shows. It’s also just a great community here and I love being on stage.” When someone joins theatre, they also learn valuable life lessons. Norwine, a self-proclaimed awkward duckling, expresses his gratitude for theatre expanding on his social skills. After McElory’s many years in theatre, she stated, “I’ve learned empathy; being able to play different characters that are completely the opposite of you really helps step into real people’s shoes and understand how they feel.”

Mr. Smith’s advice for aspiring performers is as follows: “show up – join in the work – make new friends and express your creative side. All are welcome at HHS drama.” In high school, as someone enters into the world of theatre, students start to recognize some familiar faces. Mrs. Mandy Berg, who is the theatre manager, helped put together this play by focusing more on the technical elements, such as light, sound, choreography, and managing the crew. There is also Kami Rasmussen, who is the magic behind all things hair, makeup, and costumes. Students are also very hands-on in the production; Mr. Smith states, “Our drama club officers and student leaders dove into the deep end and were an integral part of making the magic of theatre happen.”

Students and adults can buy their tickets online to attend the performances. Romeo and Juliet will be open to the public on November 18, at 7 pm, November 19 at 7 pm, and November 20 at 2 and 7 pm.