Drama program tests out fashions for upcoming show

by: TIMES PHOTO: ADAM WICKHAM - Tuesday's fashion show featured 8-year-old Trevor Beale strutting down the runway as Young Shrek. Members of Jesuit High School’s drama program hit the runway Tuesday night in a fashion show featuring ogres, fairies and bears.

The show was a private event, designed to thank a cadre of volunteers for the work they’ve done costuming characters for past and future theater productions at the school.

Jesuit is among the first in the region to produce a student version of Broadway’s “Shrek The Musical,” with performances scheduled to begin in February. And although the roles in the show won’t be cast until December, designers have given themselves a head start on creating the costumes for this highly visual production.

“We are blessed with a tremendous amount of community interest and support, which makes resources available to us that are sometimes a struggle for other schools or community groups to tap,” said Jeff Hall, the program’s co-director. “One of the reasons we decided to be first in line for ‘Shrek’ was so we could create costumes and props that could then be used by other area schools when they want to produce the show.”by: TIMES PHOTO: ADAM WICKHAM - Jesuit High School's Emily Strand steps out as Peter Pan during a fashion show designed to show off costumes of beloved characters from the drama program's past and future productions.

With a contemporary score, irreverent script and large collection of colorful characters, Hall predicts the show will be a popular one with schools in years to come. But it comes with significant technical challenges as well.

“It’s fun and challenging material for students to work with, and it would be a shame if the technical demands kept groups from making this opportunity available to their own students,” added Elaine Kloser, the other half of Jesuit’s directorial team.

Jesuit’s well-stocked store of costumes and props from past productions make frequent appearances on stages throughout the Portland area, normally at little or no cost to the producing organization.

“Our Milky White cow from (the Stephen Sondheim musical) ‘Into the Woods’ has worked in more theaters than some of Portland’s busiest actors,” claimed Hall. “And our Wells Fargo Wagon (from ‘The Music Man’) makes frequent trips as well, sometimes appearing as a surrey with fringe on top (for school productions of ‘Oklahoma’).”by: TIMES PHOTO: ADAM WICKHAM - Jesuit High School's Noah Kulala portrays The Wolf in Granny's wardrobe during Tuesday night's fashion show.

Once ‘Shrek’ was announced as the centerpiece to this year’s theater season at Jesuit, costumer Cheryl Cantwell began a conversation with Bainbridge Performing Arts in Washington. The result was a summer effort to produce the basic core of the show’s costumes so they could be used by Bainbridge first in their production of the musical later this month.

When the costumes return to Jesuit, they’ll be altered to fit the school’s cast members, and several of the show’s ensemble or group roles will be increased in number for the larger production to come in February.

Tuesday’s fashion show served as an opportunity to photograph and document the stock before it headed to Bainbridge on Wednesday. Student volunteers modeled the colorful character’s wardrobes.

Jesuit’s Principal Paul Hogan was among the featured participants and dressed as the title ogre’s wisecracking sidekick, TIMES PHOTO: ADAM WICKHAM - Jesuit High School Principal Paul Hogan joined the fun Tuesday night as Shrek's wisecracking sidekick, Donkey.

A group from the school’s drama program will travel to Bainbridge in a few weeks to see the costumes in action. “It’s really a valuable and unique opportunity to create and test this important part of the production,” Hall said.

This year Jesuit’s drama program is focused on what it means to be different. A much smaller-scale musical, “The 25th Annual Putnum County Spelling Bee” is already in rehearsal for November performances. This year’s lineup will also feature non-musicals and student-directed work.

For more information, visit TIMES PHOTO: ADAM WICKHAM - Jesuit High School resident choreographer and music director Teri Meyer models the Sugarplum Fairy costume.

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