Skyline High School performers deal in Neil Simon’s ‘Rumors’
January 8, 2013
By Lillian O'Rorke
Jessica Karius struts across the stage at Skyline High School in 6-inch red alligator print stilettos.
Before being cast as the seductive Cookie Cusack in “Rumors,” a farcical play written by Neil Simon, the 16-year-old junior had never worn high heels. Now, seven days before the show is set to open, Karius breaks in the new shoes, which complement her back-combed hair, walnut-size rhinestone earrings and slinky black dress.
“I don’t know how my parents are going to feel. This slit goes up higher,” she said, laughing backstage.
Karius’ character is all dolled up to attend the 10th anniversary party for New York’s lieutenant governor and his wife. But she arrives after the celebration has already been turned upside down. The lieutenant governor has shot himself in the earlobe and his wife and servants are missing.
Rumors fly, and the story twists and turns as each new guest arrives to the mansion.
“It’s one of the funnier Skyline shows I’ve been involved in and seen in the last couple of years,” said Maria Palacios, a junior and the stage manager. “Our cast is incredibly talented, and it’s very difficult not to be, like, crawling on the floor, laughing back stage.”
Palacios, 11 other crew members and the cast of 12 have been meeting almost every day after school since auditions were held at the end of October.
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“There are kind of waves of elements that come in. You start with read-throughs, and then you start with blocking, and then you start building sets,” Palacios said. “We are actually entering my favorite part of production time, which is where all the elements start to come together. We are starting to see lights and mics and costumes and hair and makeup and set and props all come together.”
From many of its key aspects, like set construction and lighting, the show belongs to the students. When asked by their director, Elijah Myles, if they wanted to continue work over the recent winter break, the entire cast and crew showed up every day.
“Those who have the heart and the desire; the way that they have taken direction I get goose bumps,” Myles said. “I came in to inspire, because I remember my dreams started when I was in junior high and high school. But I became the one that got inspired by them putting in so much time.”
Myles was hired in October and choosing an off-the-wall farce for his inaugural show at Skyline was no accident.
“I just wanted to give a new fresh face to the theater program,” he said. “I think the way to get people in the seats is to start with something really light-hearted and really hilarious instead of something so serious and heavy.”
After graduating from Sammamish High School in 1991, Myles became a professional performer. His acting and musical career included nearly a decade in Los Angeles, a successful stint producing shows for Norwegian Cruise Line and four years performing in cabarets in New York.
Myles, having returned to spend more time with his family in the Northwest, is happy to be working with young thespians at Skyline.
“He brings a lot of energy to it. He makes sure we are all super riled up,” said senior Jake Sullivan, who plays the role of party guest Lenard Ganz.
Sullivan said Myles is helping him to become a better actor.
“He asks us a lot what our characters would be like so we can decide for ourselves,” Sullivan continued. “He pushes us in the right direction but doesn’t exactly tell us what to do. It’s a very open space, which I really like.”
From brandy bottles filled with grape juice to the two-story set to “Rumors” upbeat energy, he said he is excited to take part in such a lavish production.
“I’ve done a couple productions here before and it’s never been this full scale,” he said. “I think it’s hysterical. It’s never serious. There are those shows that are really funny, but then there is one scene that gets really down, and you have to bring yourself in. But I just like how you never stop just being crazy, and I love being able to do that.”