NHS presents ‘Up the Down Staircase’
By Gabe Franklin
The Nevada High School Theatre Department is presenting “Up the Down Staircase” at 7 p.m. tonight and Saturday at the Ella Maxwell Center for the Performing Arts at Nevada High School.
Based on the 1964 novel by Bel Kaufman, “Up The Down Staircase” follows Sylvia Barrett, a first-year school teacher in inner-city New York. In addition to stage performances, Kaufman’s novel was also adapted to film in 1967 by Tad Mosel.
The synopsis from publisher Dramatic Publishing reads, ““Hi, Teach!” are the first words to greet attractive Sylvia Barrett. There’s a special happiness in walking into the still-empty classroom and for the first time writing her name on the blackboard. Students pour into the classroom, cautious, testing, challenging. Simultaneously, there’s a blizzard of paperwork, warnings, contradictory orders, indecipherable instructions. Frantic, Sylvia begins to fear she doesn’t even understand the language. An experienced teacher translates: “Keep on file in numerical order” means throw in a wastebasket. “Let it be a challenge” means you’re stuck with it. “Interpersonal relationships” means a fight between kids. And “It has come to my attention” means you’re in trouble. Soon Sylvia finds herself the most involved person in the school; involved in the start of a romance and in a near war with a discipline-over-everything administrator, but, most of all, involved in the unexpected, sometimes heartbreaking problems of her students. The simple stage arrangement makes the play easy to produce and serves to convey a sense of the whole school. One critic said, “Seldom has a humorous work been at the same time so important.””
In a Sept. 1, 2014 article in The New Yorker titled “The book that got teaching right,” Samuel Freedman wrote, “Kaufman did not write a period piece; she wrote the most enduring account we have of teachers’ lives—not naïve, not exculpatory, but empathetic and aware.”
Cast and crew include:
Miss Sylvia Barrett, a young teacher played by Samantha Gundy.
Dr. Maxwell Clarke, played by Mr. Schneider.
Ms. Beatrice Schachter, an older teacher, loved by all, played by Erica Craig.
Mr. Paul Barringer, a handsome teacher played by Ian Williams.
Ms. McHabe, a stern Assistant Principal played by Clara Haverstic.
Ms. Frances Egan, a school nurse played by Brinna Ream.
Ms. Frances Egan understudy played by Sarah Jones.
Mr. Samuel Bester, a nerdy teacher played by Charles Morton.
Ellen, a young stay at home mom played by Brinna Ream.
Ellen understudy played by Camryn Warner.
Charlotte Wolf, a librarian played by Julia Daniel.
Francine, a Fran Gardner, a student office aid played by Camryn Warner.
Sadie Finch, a school secretary played by Kallie Hill.
Helen, a student, drop out, played by Kallie Hill.
Lou Martin, a student, class clown played by Sam Miller.
Lennie Neumark, a student, goofball played by Carter Landoll.
Carole Blanca, a student, outspoken but loves school played by Liz Mosher.
Alice Blake, a student, crush on Mr. Barringer, sweet girl played by Kimberli Campos.
Vivian Paine, a student played by Marie Termini.
Rusty O’Brian, a student, doesn’t pay attention in class, played by Nick Splitter.
Josie Rodriguez, a student, book smart played by Caitlyn Berry.
Carrie Blaine, a student, rebellious played by Hadley Bruce.
Jill Norris, a student, works for the school newspaper played by Emma Follmer.
Harry Kagan a student, teacher’s pet played by Devin Johnson.
Rachel Gordon, a student played by Kelsie Wasson.
Elizabeth Ellis, a student, shy played by Chastity Somora.
Charles Arrons, a student, “late kid,” played by Clay Landoll.
Edward Williams, a student, sharp dresser, played by Justin Guy.
Joe Ferone, a student, rebel, played by Dominick Young.
Stage Manager, Kat Ream.
Assistant Stage Managers/Prop crew, Harleigh Rapp and Ian Hunter.
Costumes, Ashton Simon.
Soundboard, Tara Schultz.
Tickets are available at the door.