Odes to their teenage dreams

Olympia School District teachers and staff reflect on high school punctuated with songs, antics

Contributing writerFebruary 22, 2013 

This year, the Olympia School District Education Foundation is offering something a little different for its annual musical, cast with the district’s teachers and administrators and their relatives.

The 1982 musical revue “Is There Life After High School?” is a contrast to such recent productions as “The Wizard of Oz” and “Seussical,” large-scale musicals with lots of kids in the cast.

“ ‘Seussical’ was just so big,” Dorgan said. “There were so many people involved, and lots and lots of families, which is fun, but it’s also organizationally quite difficult.” So the OSD Players Council, which chooses the productions, decided to return the production to its roots, staging a smaller show with an adults-only cast.

The show focuses on characters remembering their high school days and preparing for their reunions. “It’s about school, which fits nicely,” Dorgan said.

A Variety critic characterized the show as “charming, funny, touching and likeable.” However, it didn’t find its audience on Broadway, where it ran for only a week.

“Anybody who’s gone to high school is going to relate, I think,” said Jon Halverson, a cast member and a second- and third-grade teacher at Hansen Elementary. “I think you could relate to it on many levels.

“At first, I thought it was entertaining and fun,” he said. “As we got into it, I realized it was deep, too. I think people are going to go away thinking about it on a conscious and subconscious level.

“A couple of the characters I play are kind of challenging,” he said. “I play a bully picking a fight and another character recalling a fight that he had in high school.”

That’s not him at all, said Halvorsen, who’s been acting in the annual musicals for about 10 years. “If any of my friends from high school come, they’ll be like, ‘That wasn’t you.’ ”

And as for his young students, he said, “I think some of my antics will amuse them, and for others, they might have their jaws wide open like, ‘I didn’t know he could do that.’”

There is plenty in the show to entertain all ages, Dorgan said. “The songs and musical numbers are catchy, and there is plenty of humor,” she said.

Perhaps making the show easier to relate to is that it’s not about one graduating class, but rather characters of various ages remembering – and dressed to reflect – their own high school years.

“We have performers in their 50s who are wearing clothes from the 1970s, when they went to school,” Dorgan said. “And we have some who went to high school in the ’90s.”

“All the women are wearing the prom dresses they wore to their own proms or would have worn to their own proms,” she said. “There’s a scene with cheerleaders and the four women who are playing the cheerleaders are wearing their actual cheerleading outfits.”

Along with teachers and staff, the show will feature new superintendent Dick Cvitanich, carrying on the tradition begun by his predecessor, Bill Lahmann.

Cvitanich will fill various roles, acting as an announcer and administrator. “The show opens with him doing a ‘Ferris Bueller’-type roll call,” Dorgan said. “And he sings in the finale. He’s very funny.”

“This is the first play in which I’ve ever participated,” Cvitanich said. He said he’s been impressed by all the hard work that has gone into the show.

“I’m really impressed by the work of Kathy Dorgan,” he added. “For me, it’s been fascinating to watch her stage this play.” ‘Is There Life After High School?’

What: The Olympia School District Education Foundation’s annual fundraising musical is a story about high-school memories and reunions.

When: 7 p.m. today and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Saturday

Where: Olympia High School Performing Arts Center, off Carlyon Avenue, Olympia

Tickets: $15 at seatyourself.biz/olympiasd or at the door

More information: 360-753-8853, osdef.org

The Olympian is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service