As theater students at Irmo High School rush to finish last-minute items before their biggest performance of the year, there is still a sense of calm in the air. The reason is because the Technical Theater at Irmo High has provided students opportunities that would even turn the heads of theater professionals.
“To be able to work in this theater… it is what I had always dreamed of having,” said Irmo High School theater teacher Lyle Browne. “The things we have the ability to do here are unimaginable. Students are able to have hands-on experience with every moving part of the theater and what makes a show come to life. That experience has allowed them to branch out and accomplish things on their own without a teacher needing to look over their shoulder.”
With the supervision of Browne and theater manager Lauren Sherr, more than 75 students have played a role in preparing for the school’s The Little Mermaid show which ran February 16-19. Seniors Tori Leatherman and Kaelee Hagins each have a major hand in the performance. Leatherman is serving as stage manager while Hagins has designed lights and is also a part of the cast.
“My dream is to be a lighting designer and I’ve been given the opportunity twice this year to design lights for shows,” Hagins said. “I’m essentially doing my dream job in high school.”
“Putting on The Little Mermaid is a very big deal,” said Leatherman. “This is a huge show. There are 145 light cues that we have to call on. That is usually the number that professional stage managers have to call on in their performances. I am planning on majoring in theater in college and when I have talked to professors, they tell me the experience I have as a senior in high school is unheard of. It’s a great feeling to know that I am prepared for the next level.”
In the theater, students are trained in all aspects of production, from costume design to sound and light design, to set building. The set pieces students use in their performances are built from scratch using tools purchased through Irmo High’s magnet grant. Even the costumes that the cast will wear in The Little Mermaid were designed and created by the students.
“We designed the Technical Theater course to expand the experience students can get in theater. We wanted to go beyond acting and directing and into the behind-the-scenes of theater,” said Irmo High School principal David Riegel. “This course allows students to obtain a full range of experience in theater and it has definite career potential to it. This gives students a way to envision having a career in the arts and that is really our main focus of our arts magnet here at Irmo High School.”
For more information on show times and tickets for The Little Mermaid, please visit www.irmocenterforthearts.org.