Musical soars behind the talented cast and crew, just like performances all over the county
Sit down John.
Sit down, the members of the Second Continental Congress sing to John Adams.
Shut up, too.
No way. John Adams will not be silenced.
Neither will those of us who have seen Heritage High School’s performance of “1776.”
We want to stand. To Cheer. To vote yea. And then pound our walking sticks to the floor for one last round of applause. Well done, we say. Well done.
Technically, this is not a review, a critique. This author is not a theater critic. The cast is not made up of professional actors.
This is ClarkCountyToday.com’s salute to the performing arts at our area’s high schools.
We were allowed to watch the final rehearsal of “1776” this week. The show’s public opener is Friday night at Heritage High School, with more performances Saturday and again on Jan. 18, 19, and 20.
As noted, the actors are not professionals. The students do, however, show off an exceptional form of professionalism. They put their heart and soul into the work. They want it to be perfect. As stage actors, though, they know perfection is next to impossible.
Performances at Heritage High School Jan. 12 at 7 p.m. Jan. 13 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Jan. 18-20, 7 p.m. Tickets: $10 for general admission; $5 for senior citizens, children 12 and under, and students with ASB cards. Tickets can be purchased at the school prior to showtimes.
Performances at Heritage High School
Jan. 12 at 7 p.m.
Jan. 13 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Jan. 18-20, 7 p.m.
Tickets: $10 for general admission; $5 for senior citizens, children 12 and under, and students with ASB cards. Tickets can be purchased at the school prior to showtimes.
At one point during the rehearsal, Michael Wallis, who plays John Dickinson of Pennsylvania, asked to redo a scene because he had made four mistakes. I can attest this set of eyes did not see a single miscue.
That just shows Wallis’ attention to detail. His castmates share in that commitment.
Charles Jackam, Heritage’s theatre director and manager, said he has always wanted to pursue “1776,” the musical that debuted on Broadway in 1969, telling the story of the Declaration of Independence. Of course, in the original, it was a cast of 26 males with only two roles for women. Can’t do that in a high school performance.
“Gender-blind casting,” Jackam writes in the director’s notes of the program. “Women unapologetically playing male roles.”
So there is Rowan Segura playing John Adams, owning the part, making it hers.
There is Natalie Williams, playing Richard Henry Lee, singing “The Lees of Old Virginia” with an energy that soars from the stage all the way to Philadelphia.
(By the way, there are two John Adams. Connor Randall and Segura are sharing the lead role in the various performances.)
Those who have seen productions of the musical, or perhaps the 1972 movie, know going in that Benjamin Franklin provides most of the humor. Jordyn Fields has a great time on stage doing just that as Dr. Franklin.
Meanwhile, Joshua O’Keefe brings a touching quality to the more reserved Thomas Jefferson.
The music is performed by the Heritage High School Pit Orchestra.
The original “1776” gave audiences many moments to laugh, but also time to reflect on the serious discussions that nearly killed independency. The Heritage production does not shy away from such topics.
Thoughts from the cast members
Besides the performances for the public, the company also has a few showings for middle school students during the day. ClarkCountyToday.com was behind the scenes Friday morning just before one such performance, to talk to a few of the cast members.
Rowan Segura said Heritage theater is home.
“I know every corner, every book, every curtain … I know everything about this place,” the senior said.
Her career started out with a promise to Jackam. She vowed to audition for the first production of her freshman year. She did not know what to expect, but she would try.
Well, she earned a role in “Treasure Island.” That opening night, she was hooked.
“It was at that moment I knew I’d make it to eight shows with Heritage,” she said. “I was dedicated.”
Heritage produces two shows every academic year. Segura is in her seventh production, with one more to go this spring.
With “1776,” she landed her first leading role in a musical.
“It’s all fair game,” she said of auditions. “You sing. You act. You do your best, and get the role you get.”
Playing John Adams, she said, is the toughest role yet because Segura is reserved, quiet.
“John Adams likes to scream out of nowhere,” she said.
Savannah Keller has three singing scenes as Abigail Adams.
“I’m a singer. I’m definitely a singer,” Keller said, noting this acting stuff is new to her. “I’ve been in choir all my life but this is my first play.”
Keller was told by veterans of the stage that she would start to feel like “someone else” once she started acting.
“That’s kind of what it feels like,” she acknowledged. “I find pieces of myself in Abigail Adams so I can really connect with her character and do her justice.”
Jordyn Fields said he has always “had a thing” for acting. He quickly learned it is the people in the business that make it truly special.
“The theater brought me in here, but the community made me stay,” he said. “I love the people here.”
For this show, Field is in the role that steals just about every scene.
“I never expected playing a dirty old man would be so much fun,” Fields said of his Benjamin Franklin. “He’s so self confident. He doesn’t have to be loud to be so powerful and in control.
“Plus, I get to crack all the jokes.”
Other area productions
ClarkCountyToday.com would like to give a special shout out to all performers at all area high schools. Here is a list of some of the upcoming productions throughout Clark County.
Battle Ground: “As You Like It” by Williams Shakespeare (May 10-12, 17-19.)
Camas: “Little Shop of Horrors” (March 16-17, 23-24)
Evergreen: Student-directed Senior Showcase, Jan. 19-20
Evergreen: “Mary Poppins” (May 3-5, 11-12)
Hockinson: “12 Angry Jurors” (May 4-5, 11-12)
Hudson’s Bay: The Hudson’s Bay Talent Show, featuring various talents (Feb. 9)
King’s Way Christian: Spring Choral Concert (March 12)
La Center: Student-directed scenes and lip-synch championships (Feb. 15)
La Center: Two short plays: “The Critic” and “The Real Inspector Hound” (May 17-19)
Mountain View: Student-directed One Acts, with five plays in all (Jan. 18 and 20)
Prairie: “Pippin” (March 16-18, 23-24)
Ridgefield: “Footloose” (April 26-28, May 3-5)
Skyview: “Almost, Maine” (Jan. 18-20)
Union: “Illinois Jane and the Pyramid of Peril” (May 3-5)
Washougal: “Annie Get Your Gun” (Feb. 16-17, 23-24)