Photos by Donna Bise It is always heartening to see new plays developed for youth theatre, in this case for pre-teens and teenagers.  This is a grant-funded project, so you can be sure that it had much scrutiny along the way, especially because of the topic—racial tensions that develop in a high school.  This is not a subject to be dealt with lightly, and as we are in the South it may be particularly relevant, although no location is mentioned in the play. 

Playwright Bob Inman does a good job setting up the premise and layering the story, though it takes a while to get the main conflict.  A new student, Tasha (Shon Wilson), enters the Drama Club where one of the top student/actors, Emily (Johanna Jowett,) because of various factors, feels threatened by Tasha’s talent.  Tasha is black, Emily is white, and at first this is a non-issue, but when the teacher, Mr. Brady (Mark Sutton), has auditions for “The Importance of Being Ernest,” Emily blows the audition because she thinks Mr. Brady favors Tasha and she won’t get the part she wants.  Emily, devastated but furious, starts a rumor that Tasha got the part because she is black.  This “grenade” sets off a riot at the school.  It takes all the skill and sensitivity of students like Flora (Ericka Ross), the wisdom of the principal Mr. Pettigrew (Sidney Horton), and understanding parents, to recover and get the school back to equilibrium. 

The character of Camera Kid (Jon Parker Douglas) serves as the narrator of the story and video records the action from multiple vantage points, with images intermittently projected on the gigantic screen at the back of the stage.  This is a clever device that allows for exposition. 

I can’t say enough about the consistently excellent direction of Alan Poindexter, Artistic Director of Children’s Theatre.  Here his creative inspiration substantially adds to the success of the show.  Among his touches: black students are dressed in white, white students dressed in black; the cast stands around the perimeter of the stage as other scenes go on, facing out in the first act, facing in, in the second; video selection (maybe a tad too broad in some cases); keeping a consistent tone; appropriate and needed moments of humor; adding dance (as a metaphor for the riot) and music at the right time in the right amount; drawing terrific performances from his actors. 

The show is cast with multi-talented adult actors, and I certainly don’t take anything away from the wonderful ensemble performance, yet I have to say that I was disappointed that age-appropriate actors were not cast in the show.  I’m sure there was a reason for this decision, but it does seem like an opportunity was missed as there are many fine young actors in Charlotte. 

The first act is more balanced and well-rehearsed.  At times the second act is a bit too episodic, and when a major character apologizes it seems to come out of nowhere, though is not at all a surprise. 

Yet, this new play has much to offer, and hopefully with a little refinement will find audiences who appreciate the good work that was done to create it. 

Ann Marie Oliva
Producer/Editor –

Performed March 13 - 22, 2009.

Photos by Donna Bise

~ Cast ~

Photos by Donna BiseCamera Kid: Jon Parker Douglas
Emily: Johanna Jowett
Tasha: Shon Wilson
Flora: Ericka Ross
Cassie: Caroline Bower
Carlos: J.R. Adduci
Max: Michael Mittman
Tucker: Samuel Crawford
Demetrius: J.R. Jones
Marcus: John Say
Mr. Brady: Mark Sutton
Mr. Pettigrew: Sidney Horton 


Director: Alan Poindexter
Costume Designer: Courtney Burt Scott
Choreographer: Delia Neil
Video Projection Design: Jay Thomas
Stage Manager: Elisabeth Purkey
Properties Designer: Peter Smeal
Sound Designer: Elisabeth Ittoop
Lighting Designer: David M. Fillmore, Jr.
Production Manager: Andy Brown
Technical Director: Jeff Weeks
Costume Shop Manager: Amy Akerblom Holroyd
Literary Manager: Lucy Hazlehurst
Master Carpenter: Andrew Gibbon
Scenic Artist: Tim Parati
Master Electrician: Barbara Berry
Audio engineer: Van Coble, Jr.
Costume First Hand: Marina Arconti
House Carpenter: Jeremy Holroyd
Electricians: Paul Setzer, Hallie Gray, Eric Winkenwerder, Dan Mulder, Patrick Kirby, Jeremy Holroyd
Wardrobe Supervisor: Kehlee Walsh
Makeup & Wig Stylist: Barbi Van Schaick
Production Intern
: Robyn Smith


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