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Harlem High students co-write holiday production

Posted: December 6, 2017 - 2:06am

Two Harlem High School seniors are awaiting the debut of a play they co-wrote, directed and choreographed this week.

Harlem High seniors Joshua Philpot and Avery Lewis will raise the curtain on their writing and directorial debut of Trapped in Christmas Town on the school's stage Thursday, Dec. 7, beginning at 7 p.m.

The pair said they came up with the idea while discussing what they could do in place of the regular variety show the theater department normally performs this time of year.

"The variety shows are good, but they're not good enough," Lewis said. "We thought, what if we wrote it. And then we were like, what if we used all of the Christmas characters? So it just kind of budded from there and we started adding plot lines to it and we started adding music to it."

Lewis is responsible for all of the choreography and Philpot has served as the show's director.

The pair's teacher, Kelly Cook, a new drama teacher at Harlem High, said she was thrilled the students brought the idea for a play. With her approval, the students were off and running.

The result is a nearly two-hour play that Cook calls family-friendly and fun.

"Two kids are playing hide and go seek and they find a remote. It takes them to all of these different holidays, and then Christmas they get stuck and their remote gets broken, so they have to go meet all these different Christmas characters like Buddy the Elf, Frosty, Santa, to find the remote so they can get back home," Lewis explained.

The two seniors said they have only been working on the production since August. They say they're no more or less nervous than being part of any other show.

"There's a few nerves, but it's nerves you get for every show you're in, no matter what, no matter if you're in it or directing it," Philpot said. "So there are nerves, but mostly, I am very proud of everything and all of the hard work that everybody has put in for us and am very, very excited to see our masterpiece come to life."

Philpot and Lewis both plan to attend theater programs when they graduate.

Lewis, a self-proclaimed Rockettes fan, was recently accepted to the musical theater program at Columbus State University. Philpot said two schools in New York have shown interest in him, as well as a third school in California, where he plans to pursue a career in performing.

Cook said the student play is the first step in her department's efforts to reboot the theater program at the school, with a focus on drawing in the community. And the play offers something for everyone.

"It's very family- and children-friendly," Cook said. "You'll see all sorts of your favorite Christmas characters, everything from Santa to the Griswalds. It's great."

Avery has been in each of the three productions the school puts on every year for the past four years. Philpot said he didn't find his place in the theater department until the spring of his freshman year. But Cook said the pair has always been ambitious.

"Josh and Avery, they were still juniors when I got here, but they had so much drive, so much passion. They are the president and vice president of our theater troup here at Harlem," Cook said. "It continues to flame my passion for theater. Because I love theater, I studied it in college. I love my job here at Harlem. Students like them make my job such a joy because they have such a passion for it and it matches my passion.

"And I'm just so proud of them. They've written it, they're directing and choreographing it, they're taking care of everything and I just get to sit back and watch them blossom, which is really awesome. It makes my job super great."

Philpot and Lewis said they had their share of challenges in putting the production together in such a short amount of time.

Writing the play, Philpot said he and Lewis were challenged to keep each character unique and create enough dialogue to let each one shine. Lewis, whose choreography was inspired by the Rockettes, said her challenge was to share the dancers' craft with fellow students.

"I am obsessed with the Rockettes, so everything I do is based off of what they do," Lewis said. "So I have to find a way to interpret what they do and then teach it in a way that's comprehendable to other people who may not know about who the Rocketts are and what they do. It's finding the people who are able to do the kicks and learn fast, because we have had a month to do this."

But the hours the two spent leading the production have been a labor of love, and their interest drives them through the three-hour rehearsals. The pair said it's work, but that they ultimately enjoy their time.

The show will take place at Harlem High School and show times are Thursday, Dec. 7, at 7 p.m., with a matinee Saturday, Dec. 9, at 1 p.m. and an evening show at 7 p.m., and finally Monday, Dec. 11, at 7 p.m.

Ticket costs are $10 and $7 for students. Matinee prices are $7 and $5 for students.

 

Augusta Preparatory Day School

Dec. 7-8: Winter Artists Marketplace (featuring artwork by students and faculty for sale), 2-5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7, and 3-9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8, in Augusta Prep's Hull Fine Arts Center

Dec. 8: Middle School Winter Play - "A Ghost Tale for Mr. Dickens" - at 6:30 p.m. in the Hull Fine Arts Center

Augusta Christian

Dec. 11: Band and choral concerts by elementary, middle and high school students beginning at 7 p.m., at Grace Baptist Church of Evans

Evans High

Dec. 11: Holiday band concert at 7 p.m. at Sacred Heart Cultural Center in downtown Augusta

Dec. 12: Holiday choral concert: "A Celtic Christmas" at 7 p.m. at Sacred Heart Cultural Center in downtown Augusta; Admission, $10

Lakeside High

Dec. 7: The Lakeside High School band program will hold its Holiday Concert at 6:45 p.m. The event will start in the Commons area of the school, with the jazz band and two percussion ensembles playing Christmas selections, followed by four concert bands performing in the auditorium. The concert will also feature two saxophone ensembles performing throughout the evening. Free admission.

Dec. 12: The annual Holiday Choral Concert will take place at 7 p.m. in the Lakeside High auditorium; free admission

Greenbrier High

Dec. 5: Greenbrier Band Christmas Concert, at 7 p.m. in the Greenbrier High School Auditorium; free admission

Dec. 8: Greenbrier High Drama will hold its annual Dessert Theater at 7 p.m. at the Greenbrier High Theater. Tickets are $5. Desserts are free.

Dec. 12: Greenbrier Middle and High schools Choral Concert at 7 p.m. at Journey Community Church; $5 admission

 

Dec. 7-8: Winter Artists Marketplace (featuring artwork by students and faculty for sale), 2-5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7, and 3-9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8, in Augusta Prep's Hull Fine Arts Center

Dec. 8: Middle School Winter Play - "A Ghost Tale for Mr. Dickens" - at 6:30 p.m. in the Hull Fine Arts Center

Augusta Christian

Dec. 11: Band and choral concerts by elementary, middle and high school students beginning at 7 p.m., at Grace Baptist Church of Evans

Evans High

Dec. 11: Holiday band concert at 7 p.m. at Sacred Heart Cultural Center in downtown Augusta

Dec. 12: Holiday choral concert: "A Celtic Christmas" at 7 p.m. at Sacred Heart Cultural Center in downtown Augusta; Admission, $10

Lakeside High

Dec. 7: The Lakeside High School band program will hold its Holiday Concert at 6:45 p.m. The event will start in the Commons area of the school, with the jazz band and two percussion ensembles playing Christmas selections, followed by four concert bands performing in the auditorium. The concert will also feature two saxophone ensembles performing throughout the evening. Free admission.

Dec. 12: The annual Holiday Choral Concert will take place at 7 p.m. in the Lakeside High auditorium; free admission

Greenbrier High

Dec. 5: Greenbrier Band Christmas Concert, at 7 p.m. in the Greenbrier High School Auditorium; free admission

Dec. 8: Greenbrier High Drama will hold its annual Dessert Theater at 7 p.m. at the Greenbrier High Theater. Tickets are $5. Desserts are free.

Dec. 12: Greenbrier Middle and High schools Choral Concert at 7 p.m. at Journey Community Church; $5 admission

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