Theatre — another winning team at PHS

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 17, 2009

As the Pelham High School Theatre department prepares to present Little Shop of Horrors as its spring production, excitement is the reigning emotion in the auditorium.

For the award–winning creative team pulling this production together, this April show is just the beginning of an eventful summer. The difficulty of staging a production and keeping everyone focused challenges theatre teacher Jamie Stephenson. Yet, somehow she combines encouragement and hard work to create theatre with teenagers.

“When my students perform for an audience, they get affirmation, a rush of energy and a realization that the ensemble is more important than the individual,” Stephenson said.

Stephenson fosters an atmosphere that helps students find their creative niche.

“The theatre is like my second home,” said Junior Sally Baker, a member of Stephenson’s stagecraft class. “I never feel out of place there. There’s always something for me to do.”

Baker participates behind the scenes managing the technical aspects of staging.

Based on their award-winning performance at the State Thespian Convention, Pelham’s Theatre Troupe has been chosen to present I Never Saw Another Butterfly at the International Thespian Festival at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln this summer.

Stephenson undertakes a new adventure of her own beginning this summer as well. Recently accepted into the Chicago College of Performing Arts Masters Degree Program, Stephenson will spend six weeks for the next three summers completing her Master of Arts degree in directing.

“In the arts, we can’t teach what we learned 10 years ago,” Stephenson said. “Art is a human creation and, like humanity, it constantly changes, gets better and emotionally changes us.”

What the students appreciate about their teacher is her positive attitude. Stephenson jokes with the kids and the faculty alike, however, she is serious about her art — the art of creating a production that transports us from our reality for a few hours and allows us to experience the energy and the magic of live theatre.

The Little Shop of Horrors will be presented at the Pelham High School auditorium on April 23–24 at 6 p.m. and on April 25 at 5 p.m. Ticket prices at the door are $10 for adults and $8 for students. Stephenson says the show is “a campy take on Horror movies.”

But I like Baker’s plea best. “There’s a man-eating plant in the play. Need I say more?”