Corner Canyon Theater Students to Perform “Romeo and Juliet,” “West Side Story”
Corner Canyon High School’s 2015 Shakespeare team brought home the third consecutive sweepstakes title from the Utah Shakespeare Festival. This year, the team competes Oct. 6 through Oct. 8. (Phaidra Atkinson/Corner Canyon High School)
By Julie Slama | julie @mycityjournals.com
Corner Canyon theater students will get a taste of both the classic and modern-day version of similar stories as they compete in the annual high school Shakespeare competition with their ensemble performance of William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” in October, followed by performances of the popular musical “West Side Story” on their school stage in November.
“We’ll be teaching the students two styles with the Shakespearean ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and the modern story through ‘West Side Story,’” Theater Director Phaidra Atkinson said. “They both introduce rivalries whether it’s families or gangs and violence.”
The cast of “Romeo and Juliet” is led by seniors. Adam Packard plays Romeo, Maddie Sueltz is cast as Juliet and Zach Davis is Friar Lawrence. The cast will give several free performances for students and family from 8 a.m. to 2:25 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 5, in the theater before they head to Cedar City to take part in the 40th annual Utah Shakespeare Festival, which has attracted more than 3,000 student participants. The competition is Thursday, Oct. 6 though Saturday, Oct. 8.
“Last year, we won the ensemble competition as well as the dance category and it was the first time we took our dance company. The tech competition awards scholarships and everyone in our tech crew received a scholarship,” she said.
Atkinson said that as students learn Shakespeare, they discover the language and how it helps tell the story. Then, as they learn that story, they can convey it and express it on stage.
“It’s hard to tackle, but it’s an awesome experience for the students. They are motivated and so proud of themselves when they perform it on stage in Cedar City,” Atkinson said.
In addition to performing on stage, the group usually attends two shows put on at the Utah Shakespeare Festival and attends workshops on acting, dance and technical theater.
“They take on their work with pride, stepping outside the box and diving into the material. They really shine as they go from point A to B to C. As their teacher, I love watching their growth, ability and talent,” Atkinson said.
Their knowledge of the classical story will help them translate into the modern-day story they plan to introduce with “West Side Story.”
“This will be something they can relate to and compare and contrast the two productions. We’ll talk about today’s issues of bulling, even social media bullying, and ensure we have a social media plan for our theater classes. I’d like to combat this issue at our school and with this storyline, show how it is hurtful, painful and how it just starts with something small, somewhere. It’s hard material, with heavy content about death and fighting, and we talk about it. But we also learn about friendships and the show has tremendous music and dancing,” she said.
Atkinson said producing “West Side Story” came from instrumental director Randal Clark, who said that his orchestra could perform the difficult music in the production.
The family-friendly musical “West Side Story” will be performed at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 17 through Saturday, Nov. 19 and again on Monday, Nov. 21. Tickets are $8 in advance through showtix4u.com or $10 at the door.
Local businesses interested in supporting the theater programs can add their logos and names to the program, which will be designed to look like New York City graffiti. Call Phaidra Atkinson for details.
In addition to performances, the drama club, which averages about 70 students, also performs service projects such as caroling during the holidays for donations that are given to different organizations in need. They also attend Pioneer Memorial Theatre shows, other schools’ productions and other activities to support one another.