Students in Rancho Bernardo High School’s drama department are in a unique position — presenting a musical’s world premiere.
“Camp Rolling Hills” opens at 7 tonight (Thursday) in the Rancho Bernardo High School Performing Arts Center, 13010 Paseo Lucido. Additional performances will be at 7 p.m. Friday, March 4 plus 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, March 5.
Tickets, sold at the door, are $10 for adults and $5 for students. For details, go to rbbroncoplayers.com.
It is about a group of 12-year-olds spending eight weeks at summer camp. Some are eager to be there while others would have preferred other activities during their time out of school. As the weeks progress, friendships form, romances blossom and antics reign as the boys in San Juan Hill cabin and the girls in Anita Hill cabin play pranks on each other.
Director Marie Morris said the musical’s script was among a group she bought at a drama teachers’ convention a few years ago. “Last spring, I was looking at scripts and (realized) this is a really cute musical, perfect for my kids,” she said. Upon getting the show’s rights, Morris said she found out no one has ever performed “Camp Rolling Hills” beyond workshops and staged readings. That has led to a few unique opportunities for the cast and crew. For example, a representative from the show’s Los Angeles-based licensing company is coming to see the performance and Assistant Director Victoria Manvelian, a RB High senior, said the company plans to use photos of the cast in its future advertising.
Morris said she has also been in communication with Stacy Davidowitz, who wrote the musical’s book and lyrics with David Spiegel, and is trying to get a Skype session set up so Davidowitz — in New York — can talk with the cast and crew. “She is writing a book series about the same characters … and sent over some artwork and the book cover,” Morris said.
“It’s really exciting (to premiere a show) because we have nothing to live up to,” Morris said. “At the same time, we’re it. We’ll be the example. That’s really cool because it allows for a lot of creativity.” Morris said that opportunity comes at the right time, since she has been building up the program, not only on the acting side, but the technical side too. “This is my fifth year; we’ve come a really long way.”
According to Morris, this show is the first time that student designers have been able to take a real lead in designing the set, costumes and lighting. She added that because the actors will sing to recorded music tracks, the technical demands are increased. “It’s extremely complicated … a learning experience for all.”
Because of all the work they have done, Manvelian said in a few weeks they will enter their lighting, costume, makeup and scenic work in a theater festival held in Fullerton. The students are assembling a portfolio that will include photos of the show, sketches of their set and color samples. While RB High has entered the festival before, she said they have not focused on its technical competitions.
“In the past years, we haven’t put as much effort into the set,” Manvelian said. “This year we went all out.”
The experience is something Manvelian said she and a few other seniors are embracing, since they plan to study various technical theater aspects in college. Manvelian said her career aspiration is to become a professional stage manager.
“My mom raised me in the arts … they are a big part of my life,” she said. “Being a technical member (of a show) allows me to channel (my creativity) in a different way, rather than being on the stage.”
Manvelian has performed in RB High’s one-act shows, but prefers the job of stage manager, which she has done since sophomore year for its larger performances. In that role her responsibilities are mostly during the show by making sure everything from actors to lighting and sound occur on cue. This is her first time as an assistant director. “I have a bigger part in the pre-production by blocking scenes and helping design the set,” she said.
The cast members are Lucy Arvizu, Jeffrey Atterbury, Paywand Baghal, Hannah Blackburn, Abigail Bleakley, Chris Cadet, Taylor Davis, Marilynn Do, Sara Ghadimi, Sam Hagshenas, Kate Hustosky, Maddie Levesque, Maddy Marnin, Trinity McDevitt, Connor McGarvey, Kaivan Mohsenzadeh, Dakota Nank, Kaitlin Neppl, Audrey Nonaka, Grant Parlett, Jordan Primrose, Courtland Ramsay, Kenneth Rayburn, Alexis Rivkin, Amanda Risher, Michayla Shields, Joel Segraves, Megan Standifer, Callum Sydserff, Trevor Tibbs, Raymond Velasquez and Carly Weingartner.
Students in the Bronco Players crew are Eric Barnett, Imogene Bleakley, Sadaf Dadafshar, Erika Dannhauser, Carter Ferratt, Giselle Hernandez, Victoria Manvelian, Deijah Martin-Valle, Elvira Melgoza, Zade Noman, Chloe Novet, Leo Paredes, Melina Perez, Jordan Primrose, Jack Schwinkendorf and Kiley Velasquez.