The curtains are going up tonight on one of the Cariboo’s most beloved holiday traditions.
Lead female in the Maranatha Players musical Peter Panic is Grade 12 student Sarah Hanet, who has lived in Williams Lake all her life and who has been on stage for a Maranatha production every year since she started school.
The high school students in this lively, modern musical have been hard at work on the project since school started in September, and are eagerly anticipating opening tonight, Dec. 6.
Sarah has one of the lead parts in Peter Panic.
She is playing the part of Pam Dawkins—a teen who is the director of the drama club in her high school. Pam comes from a home with a hard-working single mom and is a go-getter, working hard to keep the drama club running.
Participating in Maranatha musicals is a family tradition in the Hanet household.
Sarah’s two older sisters also took part in theatre with the Maranatha Players before they graduated: Emma is in a musical in Grande Prairie next weekend and Meghan is in theatre school in Alberta.
“You couldn’t do this without support from your parents,” Sarah said. “My parents drive me to all the practices, help me run lines; my mom runs the lights and is the producer and my dad films the productions—they’re very involved.”
She said that what she likes about ‘Pam’ is that she’s a very real character. “She is complex and has many layers, and deals with a lot of things that teens actually go through,” Hanet explained.
The theatre program is great for school spirit, according to Hanet, who explained that she has met her closest friends in the drama group. “It’s a natural mentoring process. When I was younger I would watch the older kids and learn a lot, and now it’s fun to work with the younger kids—they pick it up really fast.”
She said that Peter Panic has humour, drama, great entertainment and awesome songs. “When the audience leaves, I hope they walk away thinking that God has gifted us with abilities, and also with the willingness to share with our community.”
Another seasoned actor is male lead Rudy Klaue, who is in Grade 11. He plays football star Lance Tinkerton, a character he describes as “sure of himself, confident and arrogant.”
This is the 10th play Rudy has done throughout his school years. He said that he’s been singing on stage in musicals since he was in Grade four, but that ‘Peter Panic’ represents his first solo.
He added that all students wanting to take part in Peter Panic auditioned during the first week of school in September. “You pick a monologue and memorize it, you pick a song and sing it and you complete an essay,” he noted.
Rudy said that sports are a real interest for him, especially competitive judo, but that he enjoys taking part in the school musicals.
“Being in a play is a great experience—it gives me things in common with other people and there are a lot of inside jokes.”
Director Becky Strickland said that Peter Panic is different than other productions the school has done. “It’s based in modern times, for one thing, and it has a more serious vein running through it,” she said. “The music and choreography is different, too.”
Strickland added that a couple of extra people stepped in to help with the choreography, and that the kids added some of their own vocal harmonies to enrich the sound.
“The emotions in this play run a huge gamut—from happiness to complete loss and despair, and it’s up to the actors to convey this,” she explained. “This has been a great stretch for them.”
This production is teens playing teens in a high school setting, facing challenges that all high students face, and other challenges besides. There are the jocks and the geeks, the misfits, the ‘goths’ and the ‘eager keeners’–kids with braces and problems and the need to belong.
It touches on the age-old conflict between arts and sports when it comes to diminishing dollars. It includes a unique application of cranberry juice, romance between economists, a spatula substitue and a football star exploring his ‘ Tinkerbell’ side.
The quality and pure entertainment of the show does not disappoint—these musicals are a tradition for Williams Lake that people of all ages enjoy.
“This is way to showcase dedicated and talented young people in the community,” says producer Val Hanet. “It’s more than talent: it’s the willingness to work hard at a group project and to share with your community.”
Peter Panic plays Dec. 6-8 and 13-14 at 7 p.m. and on Dec. 15 at 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets are available at Wise Owl Toys.