The cast and crew of Dreher High School’s “Cinderella” musical passed around good vibes before Thursday night’s opening performance backstage of the theater at, of all places, their rival A.C. Flora High School.
“Think about what you want to prove to yourself,” one teenage cast member said minutes before the curtain rose.
“Everybody wants you to do really great,” another added.
“This show is yours,” Dreher drama teacher Kathleen Pennyway said.
What kind of theater production would it be without a little – or a lot – of drama?
In October, flooding damaged Dreher’s auditorium to the point that it was out of the question that the show could go on at its original place and time in November.
The students had hoped to return after their winter break to a fully repaired theater, only to learn the reconstruction wouldn’t be complete in time for this week’s rescheduled shows.
It would take some true theater magic for the show to go on. Or, maybe just a bit of bippity boppity boo from a fairy god-Flora, you might say.
“They very graciously offered to host us for this past couple of weeks, and they’ve been really wonderful,” Pennyway said of the A.C. Flora administration and staff.
“We might be rivals, but we’re in the same business of doing right by children,” Dreher principal Jeanne Stiglbauer said.
As for the nearly 80 Dreher students making up the cast and crew, “you have to be flexible with everything, and they really have,” Pennyway said.
“But that’s part of what live theater is, is adjusting to changes that happen,” she said. “And that’s part of what makes live theater exciting, is the fact that sometimes you don’t know what’s going to happen from day to day.”
The stress of the preparation turned into anticipation of watching the magic unfold as showtime neared Thursday night.
“Hopefully (the audience) feels like ... they’re in the journey with us, with Cinderella and her family and the prince,” said Taylor Goodwin, a 16-year-old junior who played the role of Cinderella. “Hopefully they feel what we feel, because that’s why we’re on stage, to make them feel something.”
The students said they were grateful to have the borrowed stage on which to bring their show to life – “Because without it, we would be in the cafeteria,” said Alex Evatt, a 17-year-old senior portraying one of Cinderella’s stepsisters.
“With no lights,” added Nucreatia Gamble, a 17-year-old senior playing the queen.
“And no curtains,” Alex said.
“And have to change in the bathroom,” Nucreatia said.
There were none of those challenges to handle Thursday night, only the last-moment rehearsing of scenes and the scurrying of set crews.
The students circled around Pennyway just before taking their places.
“I’m really proud of your grace and your flexibility and your willingness to do whatever it takes to get this show to opening night,” she told them. “And you’ve done it, and we are here.
“If nothing else, remember, be loud, stay in character, and keep going.”
Reach Ellis at (803) 771-8307.
If you go
Dreher drama students will present “Cinderella” on Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. at A.C. Flora High School. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students.