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The City Journals

Bingham rehearsals already underway for Shakespeare competition, fall musical

Oct 03, 2019 01:21PM ● By Julie Slama

Bingham’s recently upgraded Copper Pit will be the stage for several of the upcoming theater season productions. (Photo courtesy of Christen Richards-Khong/Bingham High)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

After Bingham students and alumni fit in tourist sites while catching six Broadway productions during their summer non-school-sponsored trip to New York City, the enthusiasm of learning about the stage may carry them into this school year’s productions.

“It’s a fun trip where kids discover New York, see Broadway shows and learn about theater, but it’s also combined with seeing the sites and visiting important places in our country,” said Michelle Robbins, Bingham High theater teacher, who takes about 15 students, alumni and parents on the trip every other year.

This year, students may use it as a springboard as rehearsals already are underway for their fall musical, “Children of Eden” and to create their devised piece to perform Oct. 3–5 at the annual high school Shakespeare competition, hosted by the Utah Shakespeare Festival and Southern Utah University, in Cedar City. 

The 18-member Shakespeare ensemble will be made up of students in the Theatre IV class. Together they use the words written by William Shakespeare in conjunction to a theme that appeals to them today to devise their own piece. This year, students came up with the theme, “To thine own self, we true,” said Liz Smith, who is directing the ensemble.

“We discuss characters who identify with this or who have gone through an identification crisis or who may be trying to be what everyone else wants him to be, and from there, we’ll create our piece,” she said.

Robbins will coach the students, mostly juniors in Theatre III, with their scenes and monologues for the competition.

In addition, the dance company and tech crew will compete as will members of the 15-member improv team. 

While last year Bingham earned first place for its devised ensemble piece, Smith said winning isn’t necessarily the goal.

“The purpose in creating a piece is to send a message, and we ask, ‘What do we want to learn as artists and connect and have our audience learn?’” she said.

Smith also is directing and choreographing the musical with rehearsals after school for about 75 students.

“This is one of my favorite musicals,” she said. “I was introduced to it in the early 2000s, and I fell in love with the music and story, and it’s one of those musicals that you can grow from each time you see it, with its messages in different themes. The students have fallen in love with it as they researched about it this summer.”

While it’s loosely based on the Biblical stories of Adam and Eve and Noah’s Ark, Smith said it’s more than that.

“It’s a show about relationships—families and parents letting go of their children,” she said. “It’s about social responsibility and taking care of the world and asking, ‘Are we doing the best we can?’” 

The musical will be at 7 p.m., Nov. 22–23 and again Nov. 25–26 as well as 2 p.m., Nov. 23 in the school auditorium, 2160 West 10400 South. Tickets are $10 for premium seating and $8 for general admission and are available through showtix4u.com in mid-October.

Students also will present the musical as part of the Utah Theatre’s Association Jan. 16–18.

In February, Bingham will put on “Is He Dead?” The show is a comedy originally written by Mark Twain, but it was never published. It was later found and then adopted by American playwright David Ives in 2003.

“The last three plays I’ve directed have been classical comedies, but this one is both classical and contemporary,” said Robbins, who will direct the play.

It will be the first play on stage in the school’s newly updated Copper Pit, which now has a tech booth allowing for more options for the production, she said.

The show will run at 7 p.m., Feb. 21–22 and again, Feb. 24–25. Tickets are $8 online or $10 at the door.

The spring season will include students competing at the regional contest in March as well as state in April. Bingham will host the state individual competitions. 

Sandwiched among all the productions are the monthly improvisation team’s performances on Friday nights in the Copper Pit. The team is coached by Bruce Hess. Performances will be posted online on the school’s calendar and performed in the Copper Pit. Tickets are $2.

Throughout the season, students also have a chance to meet monthly with the school’s drama club. Not only do they attend shows at Pioneer Memorial Theatre and hold socials, but the students also perform service for their community.

The theater season will include the musical theatre revue at 7 p.m., May 6–8 in the Copper Pit, and conclude with student-directed one-act plays at the end-of-the-year showcase, at 7 p.m., May 21–22in the Copper Pit. Tickets for both productions are $5.