Theater buffs who love a bit of buffoonery or classic book lovers longing to see favorite characters come to life should enjoy two upcoming high school productions.

Theater buffs who love a bit of buffoonery or classic book lovers longing to see favorite characters come to life should enjoy two upcoming high school productions.

Westerville Central High School students will present Lend Me a Tenor this week, while Westerville South High School will stage To Kill A Mockingbird starting Jan. 28.

'Lend Me a Tenor'

Director Stephanie Matushonek said Lend Me a Tenor, written by Ken Ludwig, is known in the theater world as a farce.

"It's a comedic dramatic work using buffoonery and horseplay," she said.

Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Jan. 21-23, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 24, at Westerville Central High School, 7118 Mount Royal Ave.

Tickets cost $6 and can be purchased at the door or at wchstheatre.org.

Set in 1934, the story involves world-famous tenor Tito Merelli, who is about to perform Otello, his greatest role, at the Cleveland Grand Opera Company.

When the star arrives late and is given tranquilizers by mistake, Max, the assistant to the manager, tries to fool the audience into thinking he is the famous singer.

Matushonek said although the concept of a farce is well-known, producing one is not that easy to do.

"Having people act like buffoons and commit acts of horseplay on cue is difficult," she said.

"It is much easier to direct a drama than a farce."

She said directing two separate casts also was challenging.

Cast members include: Dustin Burke and Prestin Minter, who play Max on different nights; Bella Glaser and Nicole Brown as Maggie; Patrick Petrilla and Jordan George as Saunders; Aidan Iannarino and Wesley Bumpus as Merelli; Lauren Tucker and Kaylee Showalter as Maria; Jimmy Slimon and Jack Dodson as the bellhop; Madi Ryan and Rachel Pinney as Diana; and Gabby Crawford and Emma Wuebker as Julia.

'To Kill a Mockingbird'

Based on the classic novel by Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird was adapted for the stage by Christopher Sergel.

Showtimes are at 7 p.m. Jan. 28, 29 and 30 and at 2 p.m. Jan. 31 at Westerville South High School, 303 S. Otterbein Ave.

Tickets cost $6 and can be purchased at the door.

Director Matt Wolfe said the production addresses racial tensions in 1935, in Maycomb, Ala.

"While this production contains adult content and language, it raises important questions about issues that still exist in today's society," he said.

He said the production provides an opportunity to raise awareness and inspire discussions about coming of age and "embracing our differences."

Wolfe said he and Technical Director Derrick McPeak have reserved the winter show slot for the past few years for bringing "the page to the stage."

"Our first year was The Great Gatsby, then A Midsummer Night's Dream and now, To Kill a Mockingbird," he said. "We will always do a literary piece that is read in the classrooms of Westerville City Schools."

One of the challenges in bringing Lee's story to life is "honoring the work, telling this iconic story," Wolfe said.

"We started rehearsals when we got back from winter break, so the cast and crew had to be a unified team with a shared vision," he said. "It has been wonderful, as a teacher, to watch these students take such ownership of this material. They want to tell this story and honor the novel."

Cast members include: Monica Pedrozo as Jean Louise Finch, Abby Messina as Scout (Finch as a child), Oliver Runyon as Jem, Scott Barclay as Atticus, Bethani Blake as Calpurnia, Nic Hayman as Boo and Caleb Jingo as Dill.

Other cast members are: Rachel Collinsworth, Emma Damon, Mairin Duffy, Desmond Fernandez, Kaleb Groves, Greg Hassenpflug, Maro Imarah, Hannah LeWinter, Quincy McNabb, Hellen Mwangi, Steven O'Donnell, Matt Reece, Hannah Wheeler and Jarrett Williams.