Fall play solves the case of the disappearing stage
By Maria Jasen, Current Staff
Even a master sleuth needs a helping hand, and the Drama Club’s fall production of Sherlock Holmes found its Watson on a local hill.
With the high school auditorium out of commission due to renovations, the drama students had to find another place to host the production. Luckily, UW-Washington County came through—and offered the use of their Theatre on the Hill, free of charge.
Director Tonya Fordham said the Student Production Committee started brainstorming over the summer. Venues that were considered include the Badger Middle School stage or gym, the Silverbrook Intermediate School gym, the McLane Elementary stage, the high school cafeteria (which is used for the Madrigal Dinner), and even the stage at Regner Park.
Fordham said she was determined to allow the students the opportunity to produce a show this year, no matter the venue. Many of the Drama Club students are seniors, and this is their last chance to participate in a high school play. As the drama world says, “The show must go on!”
UW-WC’s Theatre on the Hill is considerably smaller than the high school auditorium, which has led to concerns about a variety of issues, such as seating, ticket sales, and the ease of production. Fordham said the performance being at UW-WC could affect ticket sales because many people may not know where the performance is being held. Every dollar raised during the performances goes back to the students and fills a majority of the budget to produce their shows.
In addition, there are challenges in using the theater itself. “While we are grateful to have the UW-WC Theatre on the Hill, it became necessary to completely change our original set designs to accommodate the space. We are thankful to have had the support of not only the high school but the school district in loading, transporting, and unloading all of our supplies, such as furniture, platforms, building supplies and even our tool chest,” Fordham said.
“It became necessary to completely change our original set designs to accommodate the space.”
– Tonya Fordham, director
Much of this labor was done during the major construction on the high school auditorium. “The construction crew even stepped in to help by moving a huge pile of metal piping so that we could haul large items out of the ‘loft’ with a rope and drop it down 20 feet,” Fordham said.
“This new space was a challenge from the standpoint of not having a technical director. One of our students, freshman Andrew Haese, who is also an actor, jumped right in and figured out the light and soundboard, programming the entire show himself. Aside from that, the actors are having fun working in this more intimate space well-suited to the particular theatrical style of Sherlock Holmes,” Fordham said.
Sherlock Holmes was chosen last year by the Student Production Committee for its “fast-paced, witty script that really is in keeping with the Sherlock Holmes people have become familiar with. We also decided to work on a smaller show that was very character-based rather than something big and showy,” Fordham said.
Considering attending a performance? Here’s why you should: “We have an extremely strong leading cast who bring to life the characters people are familiar with while still putting their own spin on things. In addition to faces our audience has come to respect, they will also see many new actors, something we are all thrilled with. While the sets are quite simple, a choice we made early on, they, along with the wonderful costumes, are strong even in this more intimate space. Each of these help set the tone and move our story along perfectly,” Fordham said.
The show opened Thursday night. Performances continue Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at both 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $6 for students and seniors, and $8 for adults.
UW-WC’s Theatre on the Hill is located at 400 University Drive.
(Image courtesy of the West Bend High Schools Drama Club.)