Theater Makes Big Impact on Students

SPARKS, Nev. -- Les Miserables has made it big on Broadway and on the big screen, but now the students at Reed High School are ready to fill some big shoes and take on the musical.

Putting the show together isn't as easy as it looks from memorizing lines, to stage and light blocking and it's certainly not cheap. Students and teachers voluntarily spend countless hours and dollars after class to showcase their passion.

When the students at Reed are done with class, they stay in school for another four to five hours to paint pieces, put costumes together and rehearse. That's because for them, it's not work.

"It's a lot more fun than doing homework," said Hayden Casey, Junior.

"It's somewhere you can be honest with yourself and no one will judge you for it, actually they'll praise you for it because it's something not many people can do," senior Cole Mason said.

Over a course of six weeks, students have turned this high school stage into a pre-French Revolutionary battlefield.

"It's not just learning the songs and their lines," musical director Malary Engstrom said. "It's also making sure the mics are ready, the sounds is good and you have to build sets."

Putting together this $13,000 production with a cast of 60 and a crew of 20 is a tall order. With zero funds to start with, Malary had to rely on the community for support. Parents, local businesses and teachers helped with costumes, make-up,props and set construction.

"The arts are struggling in every school as everyone knows so it was good to do Les Mis this year," she said. "We hope to make a profit so we can continue to do musicals here on out."

It's been 10 years since Reed has put on the production of Les Miserables. On closing night, The community will get a chance to see two generations of Reed High School students perform to commemorate the occasion. About 50 Reed Alumni will return to the stage and join the cast during one of the mass numbers on closing night.

In a time when many high school theater programs in Northern Nevada have been cut, Malary says the lessons learned from theater can't be taught anywhere else.

"It's a great place for people to be. It teaches students how to work together, social skills and things you have to use later. If they have to make a speech in college one day, I know this will help them come out of their shell," she said.

"I grew up very introverted and not very social so I've been able to talk to people like the interview I'm doing now, I probably wouldn't have been able to do that a year ago," junior Lauren Janssen said.

"Confidence is a key issue for most people and with me it's no longer an issue. I'm secure in who I am because of theater," Mason said.

Students say whether it's romance, violence or drama, there's something in theater for everyone.

At the end for the day, these students will return to their regular routine of class, tests and homework, but they'll carry with them a new respect for passion and hard work.

Thursday, February 28 is opening night. For show dates,times and tickets, visit the link below.


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