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Two favorite fairy tales

Just as Alice wondered what to do about her predicament, the Park High School Drama Department faced a dilemma when more than 130 students showed up to audition for "Alice in Wonderland," directed by English teacher Emily Ball.

The solution was to add another play, so "Pinocchio," directed by Tracy Caponigri, will also be part of the chamber theater production.

The shorter plays are offered so students, many of whom have not been in school musicals or plays, can get a taste of acting and the rigorous practices it takes to bring performances to the stage.

But Amber Starkson wants students to learn a lot more.

"I want them to experience the joy of theater and have fun while they're here," said the student director for "Alice in Wonderland" at the Nov. 24 play practice.

Starkson, and student director Sam Salwasser, also an "Alice in Wonderland" student director, helped Ball critique one of last week's practice sessions. Salwasser, said actors who are on stage, and not saying lines, should stay in character.

Learning how to add life to a character and how to move on stage are two things new actors will learn during performances, Starkson said.

Practices also included a warm-up session where actors learn to use their bodies on stage and to enunciate. The first run-through of "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers ..." went well, but saying it faster and faster to the beat set by Ball was hard and dissolved into laughter for some.

Starkson, who has been acting since third grade, said she's enjoying her stint as a student director. She likes teaching and being a leader. Ball is "great" to work with, she said.

"I feel so proud when I see them grow in their characters," said Starkson, who intends to stay in the theater profession.

"That's my favorite part," she said.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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