Lights dim, the volume in the room fades to a whisper, and curtains open. A character says their first line, and the magic begins as the audience gets transported to a new world.
This experience is one that students at Skyline and Eastlake high schools have not been able to give the Sammamish community for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, both schools’ theater programs will open their fall plays.
Skyline High School’s fall play, Clue, opened this Tuesday, Nov. 9 and runs until Saturday, Nov. 13. Clue runs for 1 hour and 20 minutes every evening at 7:00 p.m., except Veterans Day, along with a matinee show at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday.
Clue is a comedic murder mystery, where six mysterious guests gather at Boddy Manor due to a letter they received. A simple dinner party turns into a race against time as the guests try to figure out who the murderer is among the six of them after the first body is found.
Eastlake High School’s fall play, Peter and the Starcatcher, opens this Friday, Nov. 12. Peter and the Starcatcher runs for 2 hours and 30 minutes every evening at 7:00 p.m. from November 12 to 13, and again from Nov. 17 to 20. The matinee performance is Saturday, Nov. 12, at 1:00 p.m.
Peter and the Starcatcher is the story of Boy, an orphan who is resentful and irritating. However, when he meets Molly, a starcatcher-in-training on a ship at sea, his lonely world is changed completely. The ship is taken over by pirates, and the audience follows Molly, Boy, and the rest of the crew as they navigate their way through many adventures.
Due to the current pandemic, there are many aspects of both plays which are different from previous years. Masks are constantly required on the set and backstage for cast and crew. One of the most significant changes, however, is that actors have to wear masks on stage as well. While this may seem difficult, actors have found ways to work with this accommodation.
Eastlake High School senior Ellie Unger, who plays Molly Aster in Peter and the Starcatcher, said this added obstacle “has made us focus on projecting our voices properly, annunciating, and being our character physically because the audience can’t see our faces.”
For Skyline High School junior Sanjana Anand, who plays Miss Scarlet in Clue, facial coverings have not masked the magic of theater.
“The show’s design and set is stunning, and all the technical elements are beautiful…Every person involved in the production, from parent volunteers, to stage managers have put so much time and dedication towards creating a work of art,” Anand said.
Masks also made it a slight challenge for sound crews at both high schools to secure microphones onto the actors. However, they were able to make it work by clipping microphones on masks.
Students have been working extremely hard to make both productions successful. During tech week, students stayed at school until 10:00 p.m. every weeknight, working around the clock to ensure the set was finished, costumes fit and microphones were working.
“Working on Clue was an unforgettable process, and of course we couldn’t do it all without Mrs. Fry. Fry’s an incredible director who is so much fun to work with. I’m grateful to have learned so much from this experience and to be in such an uplifting and inspiring environment,” Anand said.
Both actors were grateful to be back in an in-person theater environment, and be able to make deeper connections with both the company and the audience.
“Even though sometimes it can still feel like we’re all isolated because of COVID, I think theater has the power to bring us all together — the audience and the actors,” Unger said. “I have definitely made a lot of connections and friendships with my fellow cast mates, and I am looking forward to see what connections I can make with the in-person audience this weekend.”
Tickets for Clue can be purchased at the box office at Skyline High School up to an hour prior to the play. Tickets for Peter and the Starcatcher can be purchased online here.