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The Final Curtain Call

Stratford’s Playhouse seniors take a bow

Annie
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Stratford High School’s Playhouse

THE FINAL BOW The seniors of Stratford High School’s Playhouse take their final bow. In May, the beloved high school theater department celebrated 50 years.

Five minutes to showtime at Stratford High School’s theater department, Playhouse. The students have been preparing for this moment for up to six months. They scurry around backstage with lots to think about: positions, lights, costumes, makeup. Like ants in a colony knowing exactly where to go, they find their places. 

Out in the audience of the newly renovated auditorium are their friends, family, and members of the community from young children to older adults. The curtain opens – it’s showtime. 

Playhouse is not your run-of-the-mill high school theater department. It invites the community in. It is where dreams have been born on stage for 50 years, and behind the scenes, has formed lifelong friendships.  

The Playhouse tradition includes four productions each year. Playhouse also participates in the UIL One Act Play competition, which brings theater to the competitive stage. Rehearsal periods vary in length, tailored to each production. 

From late nights to early mornings, juggling final exams, preparing for shows, all while trying to just be a high school kid, Playhouse students and their directors take their shows to the next level. 

Leading Playhouse are Stratford teachers Cece Prudhomme, artistic director; Alyssa Rosner, associate director; David Clayton, technical director; Marcie Baker, music director; and Gyasi Blanton, conductor and music director.

This month, we highlight six remarkable Playhouse high school seniors as they mark their final curtain call after four years of memories, challenges, and triumphs, all while looking to a bright future ahead.

Abbigayle Scott

Abbigayle Scott performs as Tiger Lily in "Peter Pan," alongside her best friend Anna Rigo (who played the role of Peter Pan).

Abbigayle Scott

Fall 2024 Plans: Texas State University; Majoring in Musical Theater

Abbigayle Scott stepped on the Playhouse stage at age 14. She served as president of the Thespian Troupe and student director of the show, “Play That Goes Wrong.” Some of her other roles over the years have included: Peggy Sawyer in “42nd Street,” Ariel Moore in “Footloose,” dance captain in “Young Frankenstein,” dance captain and Brooke Wyndham in “Legally Blonde,” Tiger Lily in “Peter Pan,” and ensemble in “Something Rotten.”

From her first-year days to her bow as Tiger Lily in “Peter Pan,” Abbigayle's Playhouse journey had many highlights. Her biggest, she says, was playing Peggy Sawyer in “42nd Street.” “It is a role that has aspirations very similar to my own, and the innocence of her passion brought me back to the pure love I have for theater and performing,” said Abbigayle. “I had never played a role that I related to on such a deeply emotional level. I have never felt as free and seen as I did when onstage as Peggy.”

Abbigayle recalled the challenges of balancing hours of demanding work, while trying to enjoy high school. “It is easy to get swept up into worry and negativity, but it is so important to live in the moment,” she said. “Enjoying the last few years as a kid has been a struggle. However, it is a struggle that is worth it.”

Frankie Miller

Frankie Miller was involved with costume crew for four years at Playhouse.

Frankie Miller

Fall 2024 Plans: The University of Houston’s Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts; Majoring in Costume Design

Amongst costume racks and sewing needles, Frankie Miller found her place with the costume crew of Playhouse – where her imagination took flight. She was in the costume crew all four years of high school – beginning with her first play, “Nunsense.” She served as costume head for the 2023-24 season.

“During the last four years, I have done what feels like hundreds of quick changes since my first show,” said Frankie. “I especially enjoyed learning different sewing techniques and skills I use in my everyday life.”

From the intricate changes of “42nd Street” to the magic of “Peter Pan,” Frankie's costume designs breathed life into the characters. She says a highlight was the mentoring she received from fellow students and her directors, along with the guidance she was able to provide for those following in her footsteps. “I am especially proud of my former assistant heads who are now running their own show,” said Frankie. “I have watched them grow over the past three years, and getting to help them along the way of their first show is something I am beyond grateful for.”

She credits teachers Cece Prudhomme and Alyssa Rosner for helping her discover and foster a love for costume design and creation.

Kate Diers

Kate Diers served as student technical director and as stage manager. She competed and advanced to Nationals for Stage Management at the 2023 Texas Thespian Festival, and she received the Tommy Tune Award for Outstanding Stage Manager two years in a row.

Kate Diers

Fall 2024 Plans: The University of Southern California; Majoring in Stage Management

Kate Diers served as stage manager and assistant manager for Playhouse all four years of high school. She began her journey in Playhouse as a member of the sound crew for “Nunsense” and later was on set crew for “Something Rotten!” Kate received the Tommy Tune award twice during her four years. She was in shows such as “Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime” and “Legally Blonde.”

“Playhouse has brought a family and a home into my life that I never knew I would need or miss in the future,” said Kate. She recalled sitting around a table over half-eaten pancakes late at night at IHOP after shows and crying with her fellow seniors on closing night of “42nd Street.” All irreplaceable moments with the people Kate have grown to love.

A highlight for her was being assistant stage manager for “Peter Pan” in the spring of 2022. “It marked the beginning of a new chapter not only for the new auditorium but also for me as it was my moment of realization that I wanted to pursue stage management professionally,” said Kate.

She says she has learned how to make decisions under pressure. “The biggest challenge has been making the decisions that people do not favor,” said Kate. “As a stage manager or assistant stage manager, your job is to make decisions in a matter of seconds, from stopping a show for technical errors or halting actors from flying into the air for safety.”

Kate recalled deciding to stop the actors from taking flight during the “I'm Flying” number in “Peter Pan.” “It was due to the flight line being crossed with the lights,” said Kate. “I will never forget the face of the kid playing Michael as his face held so much sadness when he realized he would not be able to fly that show.”

It was through these experiences that Kate became ready for her next chapter.

Kira Sledge

Kira Sledge played the role of Dorothy Brock in 42nd Street as her final role in four years in Playhouse.

Kira Sledge

Fall 2024 Plans: Shenandoah University; Majoring in Musical Theater

Kira Sledge spent her four years in Stratford Playhouse serving in a variety of roles. From her first-year days to her final bow as Dorothy Brock in “42nd Street,” Kira's journey with Playhouse was memorable. 

The first year, she worked in publicity and on the hair and makeup crew for “Nunsense” and “Something Rotten.” She played a Delta Nu in “Legally Blonde” and was a featured dancer in “Peter Pan.” She also played Ms. Scarlet in “Clue,” Frau Blucher in “Young Frankenstein,” and was dance captain in “Footloose.” During her senior year, she was the head of house crew for “The Play That Goes Wrong.”

Kira says the highlight of her career at Stratford Playhouse was her final bow this last semester – standing amongst her fellow seniors on stage after playing a lead role in “42nd Street.”“Although one may see this event from the outside and question why a high school performance is so important to me, it's truly because the Stratford Playhouse was my Broadway,” said Kira. 

Kira distinctly recalled sitting in the audience of Stratford's shows when she was in elementary school, aspiring to be like those students that she saw on stage. “These kids weren't just high schoolers in my eyes, they were stars,” said Kira. “I truly fulfilled my childhood dreams.”

Owen Sullivan, Will Meadows

Owen Sullivan (left) played in a leading role his senior year. He acted a sword-fighting scene with fellow senior Will Meadows (right) in the fall of 2023 during "The Play That Goes Wrong.”

Owen Sullivan

Fall 2024 Plans: The University of Texas at Austin; Majoring in Mechanical Engineering and Plan II Honors Program 

Owen Sullivan found his home, and his best friends from high school, in Stratford Playhouse during his freshman year. He was in 12 shows during his four years.

Owen served on lights crew for “Nunsense” and “Something Rotten” and on vocal ensemble for “Footloose,” “Legally Blonde,” and “Young Frankenstein.” His also played the role of pirate in “Peter Pan,” cop in “Clue,” Bert Barry in “42nd Street,” and multiple roles (Max, Cecil and Arthur) in “Play That Goes Wrong.”  

Owen said Playhouse is a place of connection for people with different interests and backgrounds. “Playhouse is full of diverse groups of students, including students involved in athletics, band, student government, choir, advanced academics and more,” said Owen.

The dedication to a show is a process. “Throughout the production process, there are nonstop rehearsals for all the complex dances and singing in each show,” he said. “It was challenging at times to balance this with other extracurricular involvements and schoolwork, but taking a bow on closing nights with all [my] friends made it all worth it.”

Abbigayle Scott, Will Meadows

Will Meadows (at right) played the role of Julian Marsh in “42nd Street" alongside Abbigayle Scott (at left), who played the role of Peggy Sawyer. (Photo: Hallie Keller)

Will Meadows

Fall 2024 Plans: The University of Texas at Austin; Majoring in Canfield Business Honors and Plan II Honors Program

Throughout his time at Stratford Playhouse, from his early involvement as part of the props crew for productions like “Nunsense” and “Something Rotten” during his freshman year to Colonel Mustard in “Clue” and Julian Marsh in “42nd Street” during his senior year, Will was committed. He ended his basketball career after sophomore year to focus on Playhouse.

Will served as the vice president of membership for the Thespian Troupe, a group for high school theater students. He says the community within Playhouse was the highlight of his experience. “Over the past four years, I have been able to become best friends with people with varying interests and backgrounds as we all work together to bring art to the stage,” said Owen. “Every show is a long and tough process, but it is always rewarding to entertain our audiences and tell a new story.”

He has also learned an important lesson, which was looking into the face of rejection when things did not work out the way he had hoped. “There have been plenty of times where I have not gotten the role that I wanted or have been cut from a show altogether,” said Will. “However, the directors offer audition feedback for every show, so you can hear their honest opinions on what you need to improve.” The lesson of turning feedback into motivation is something he will take with him.

 

As these six seniors bid farewell to Stratford Playhouse, their stories serve as a testament to the endearing bonds that formed over long hours, hard work, and countless rehearsals. Following their footsteps a new generation of performers will carry the legacy forward at Playhouse, inspired by those who came before them.

Editor’s note: For more information about Playhouse, see Stratfordplayhouse.com

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