The fine arts department of Augusta Preparatory School will present The Hobbit, based on the book by J.R.R. Tolkien and dramatized by Patricia Gray. Jayson Akridge, the drama teacher at Augusta Prep, said he was looking for a "smaller-scale" play to do after the department's fall presentation of Sweeney Todd.
Augusta Prep's Ben Bashinski, who plays Gandalf, rehearses for the school's presentation of The Hobbit. The play will be presented Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
However, he said production of The Hobbit is exceeding his expectations.
"I told (set designer) Ann Bell this play would be a cake-walk,'' he said. "Then we looked at the script and it hit us - the play has trolls and a dragon. We would have to produce a dragon. ... The technical aspects have been challenging. ... We're hoping people will be impressed."
The dragon is about 7 feet tall, features glowing red eyes and spits fire and smoke. Akridge said special effects were used to create an ominous voice for the creature.
In addition to the dragon, the play features a battle sequence performed by all the cast members.
"With the nature of the choreography being so elaborate, we've had to work on each aspect of the fight scene, so it will be exciting and safe at the same time," Akridge said. "If you can imagine 20 teenagers on stage, each waving a sword, it's fortunate no one has been hurt. The sequence is only five minutes, but that's an eternity on stage."
Chase Prescott, who plays the main dwarf Thorin, said he auditioned for the play because he wanted to be in the battle scene.
Chase, a senior, said he normally works behind the scenes as the head electrician during plays, so being on stage was awkward at first.
"I figured I'd get to be an extra during the battle scene, so I was surprised to be one of the main characters,'' he said. "It was awkward at first. The hardest part is to move like I'm short and stocky, when actually I'm tall and gangly. I'm a surfer dude, so I had to learn to stop acting (the surfer dude), and be a dwarf. It's been educational."
Fellow cast member junior Ben Bashinski agrees. Ben, a junior who plays Gandalf the wizard, says his part doesn't fit his personality.
"There's a reason it's called acting,'' he said. "I have to be more serious than usual. I have to be wise while everybody else is joking around. That makes it less fun, and more challenging, but in the end, it's worth it to pull off the character."
Akridge said the play "contains a lot of things from the book, and has many of the same characters as the Lord of the Rings movies,'' so people will be familiar with it.
The cast of 20 is made up mostly of freshmen and sophomores.
The play will be in the Goodwin Commons at Augusta Preparatory School, 285 Flowing Wells Road in Martinez. Show times are 7:30 p.m., Thursday through Saturday. Advance tickets, which can be purchased from the school office, cost $6 for students and seniors and $8 for adults. Tickets are available at the door for $8 for students and seniors and $10 for adults. Call the school at 863-1906 for more information.
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