The first Waxahachie High School production of the year will be one of “Epic Proportions” — literally.
Yes, you have permission to laugh at how silly the beginning of this story is because situational comedy is what WHS is all about, starting tonight.
The state-recognized WHS Theatre Department will open “Epic Proportions” at 7 p.m. The department placed second in last spring’s 5A UIL state One Act Play competition and director Andy Reynolds is already looking forward to another big year, starting with a cast ready to portray the difficulties of filming a Biblical epic that isn’t remotely accurate, Reynolds said. The production, seen on Broadway, was written by Larry Coen and David Crane, a writer for the television comedy “Friends.”
“It’s a script that I’ve liked for quite some time. It’s a silly little show,” Reynolds said. “It’s a silly throwback to the whole Bob Hope/Fred Astaire and Abbott and Costello, kind of corky, situational comedy. It’s making fun of the Biblical movie genre and how grand and big they were and not necessarily historically accurate, but it had all the colors and stuff. So, we always say it’s like the 10 Commandments in technicolor. All the costumes are very bright colored and definitely not historically accurate, but they look good.”
He said where most high schools would typically pick something dark and full of drama for the month of October, because the first production is always in October, he thought the department should start off on a lighter note. Last year, the season started with a heavy drama and the One Act Play that took the department to state was also a dark comedy, he said.
“I had a good group of students, and I talked to them and said, ‘Hey, y’all want to do this silly, little farce?’ and some of them had never done one before,” Reynolds said, adding the production doesn’t have some deep, philosophical meaning and is just meant to make the audience laugh. “So, I said let’s try your hand at situational comedy.”
“Epic Proportions” will feature about 15 first-time performers from the school’s advanced drama class, so taking on a situational comedy has been about learning and watching some of the veteran performers like Blake Sauceda, Reynolds said.
Sauceda, a senior who also played in a lead role for last year’s One Act Play, will take on the role of Benny, an extra on his way to stardom in Hollywood.
“I play a boy who is destined for stardom. This is his biggest dream, to be on the set of a movie. But throughout the show, things just slightly, but surely, start going against him and everything he wants,” Sauceda said. “So, it’s just about him and how he deals with everything that’s happening to him. The character is easy for me because I relate to Benny a lot. We both have the same dream of wanting to make it big in the business, and we both have a common goal. And if you see the show, you’ll notice that bad things happen to Benny at really inopportune times. So, sometimes you just kind of have to laugh at it and I feel him on that level.”
With the talent from peers like Sauceda, “Epic Proportions” is the first step for one of the production’s Egyptian dancers Peyton Smith, a junior.
“I did theater when I was little, but it was kind of intimidating to go into Waxahachie’s because they’re amazing,” Smith said. “I figured I’d give it a shot and I did and I got in. Reynolds gave me the opportunity to choreograph the Egyptian dance, so that was exactly what I needed at the perfect time. I’m really excited this year to mainly get a feel for it, because I know it’s really fun. I hope that next year I get to be more active and try out for roles, but just watching older actors like seniors this year is making me really excited for the plays we’re going to get to do next year.”
Though opening night is at 7 p.m. Thursday, the community has three other opportunities to see the talent of “Epic Proportions” with 7 p.m. performances on Friday and Saturday and a matinee at 2 p.m. Sunday at the WHS Fine Arts Center. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $7 for senior citizens and students at the door.
“I hope the community thinks this is just as good as anything else we’ve put on,” Smith said. “I hope they come prepared to see a tricky play, and if they come with the right mindset, they’re going to get a good laugh out of it and that’s what I hope for.”