By Gordon Dritschilo
When the curtain goes up for the first time in more than a decade, it will be on an all-new stage.
Proctor Junior-Senior High School has a drama program for the first time in 15 years, and its students are about to put on their first production — a performance of “High School Musical.”
“I’ve never done a play before,” said seventh-grader Charlotte Pomeroy, who has watched her siblings perform with Rutland Youth Theatre and wanted to give it a try. “It can be a bit chaotic at times, but it’s fun.”
Liana Hall, 14, a freshman, said she had never thought of acting before one of her teachers tapped her for a role.
“My character is … one of the popular kids,” she said. “He’s fun to play.”
Emily Jenkins, the school’s technology integrationist, said a group of faculty decided it had been too long since Phantoms took to the stage.
“At the end of last year, there was a group of us, teachers in technology, art and music,” Jenkins said. “We were sitting around thinking ‘We need more than sports.’ … There’s so few electives here now, because of all the extra requirements. We wanted to offer something new and exciting.”
They settled, she said, on theater.
“We’ve all been a part of it in high school and it’s something we thought kids should have access to,” she said.
“When we first started talking about it, we had 30 or 40 people,” she said — a strong showing in a school with a total of about 150 students. “We ended up with about 20 continuous students.”
But, Jenkins said, they needed more than just students. Even back when the auditorium had been used for plays before, it was far from an ideal space.
“All the lights were run from a light switch on the wall,” she said. “It wasn’t really built for theater.”
A $38,000 grant from the Mortimer Proctor Fund changed that.
“It was a good year it took us to get all that lined up,” Jenkins said. “We got all new sound equipment. We’ve got brand-new speakers. Everything is controllable through Bluetooth. … We’ve got new lights. We’ve got new mics.”
The microphones, she said, will also be used by the school band, while the LED lights can be programmed to produce more than a million color combinations.
Showtime is 7 p.m. on April 7 and 8. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students and seniors.
Jenkins said they hope to use ticket proceeds to sustain the drama program.