PHS fine arts salutes decades of theater
A kaleidoscope of colorful productions through the years will be in the limelight Friday and Saturday nights when Prescott High School fine arts students present "Give My Regards to Ruth Street."
When it came time this past summer to select a play for fall, director Matt Kiesling and assistant director Nolan Sturdevant came upon the idea of honoring directors, casts, crews - past and present - in a special production, and at the same time, acknowledging the 100th year of the school yearbook, the Hassayamper.
"There is so much history at Prescott High and all the shows" that have been staged at Prescott Mile High Middle School's Hendrix Auditorium and at Prescott High's Ruth Street Theater, said Kiesling, who is PHS director of choral and music theater studies. "I wanted to do something historical about PHS. We decided to honor everything that came across the Prescott High stage through time."
After much research, 17 productions from the past 30 years made the list for the review. And, the inspiration for the title came from Sturdevant, who was humming "Give My Regards to Broadway" during one of the discussions about the theme of the play. The clever logo for the play crosses out "Broadway" with a giant X and adds Ruth Street, instead.
Sturdevant, a senior at PHS, is a long-time Prescott resident who has seen many PHS productions and has watched the department grow, he said. He hopes to be a theater teacher one day and said of his experience as assistant director of "Give My Regards to Ruth Street, "I wanted to leave my mark on the school and not be forgotten."
And he wants people involved in past productions "to know they are being remembered."
Kiesling also wants to recognize the emphasis that the administration and faculty have placed upon fine arts productions, as well as the community and the support it has given through tax credit donations.
"Without your support our students would not be able to participate in our productions for free," he says in his "Director's Notes" on the back of the play's program. Without this help, "many students wouldn't be able to develop their craft, simply because they couldn't afford to."
"Give My Regards to Ruth Street" opens with a tribute to the PHS production of "Oklahoma," complete with a history of the play on Broadway and the school's stage, paying tribute to all who participated in its performance, and then the student vocalists sing the songs that made "Oklahoma" the box office smash hit of the 1940s.
The play continues with tributes to 16 more musical productions, such as "Bye Bye Birdie," "Wizard of Oz," "Les Miserables," "Fiddler on the Roof," "Oliver," and "Grease," until the grand finale, "Jesus Christ Superstar."
Kiesling said the cast and crew of 40 students began working on the play in August and have amassed 200 hours of after-school time since then rehearsing for this weekend's performances. T-shirts with the play's logo are the primary costume, with added bits and pieces of costumes and props from past shows to accent the scenes. Tech students constructed the show logos for each scene depicting past shows, and art teacher Amanda Chartier and some of her students painted them. These logos will be on display in the lobby of Ruth Street Theater to honor and serve as a time line for past productions.
The curtain goes up at 7 on Friday, Nov. 20, and Saturday, Nov. 21. Admission is $10, and the Ruth Street Theater box office will open at 5:30 p.m. for ticket sales.