Bexley Theatre Arts, the Bexley City School District's drama program, will present 14 shows during its 2018-19 season.
The season kicked off Sept. 27 with Disney's "101 Dalmatian KIDS" and continues with "Happy Daze" Thursday, Oct. 18, through Saturday, Oct. 20, in the Cassingham Theater in the district's Cassingham complex, 326 S. Cassingham Road.
The season marks a milestone for Rebecca Rhinehart, who has served as Bexley Theatre Arts director for 13 years. She will celebrate her 200th production with the high school's fall musical, "Little Shop of Horrors," which will be staged Nov. 15-17 in the Schottenstein Theater at the Cassingham complex.
In putting together each season, "I always choose shows that are different from what we've done before, that are a challenge to the age group and something I feel like the students will relate to and really enjoy doing," Rhinehart said.
"Happy Daze" will feature the Bexley Middle School Junior Thespians. The plot of revolves around a youth named J.T. Springer, whose parents ground him in his room. To entertain himself, J.T. watches nostalgic programs and becomes convinced he's a 1950s personality stuck in the body of a modern teenager. To escape his circumstances, he creates an imaginary '50s town named Oakdale where he's regarded as someone special.
Eighth-grader Luke Hill, who plays J.T., said he is similar to the character he plays in that he likes attention.
"I like being able to narrate to the audience, that I break the fourth wall a lot," Hill said. "That's kind of my favorite type of acting."
Scarlett Johnson, an eighth-grader who plays J.T.'s mother, Anne, said "Happy Daze" educates about history while it entertains.
"I like how it shows the similarities between the two time periods," Johnson said. "It kind of accentuates both of those, which is really cool. I like how big the cast is and how every character builds up to this amazing show."
"Little Shop of Horrors" will spotlight the Bexley High School Thespians. The show is the subject of a hit Broadway musical and two feature films. The plot centers on a meek floral assistant, Seymour Krellborn, who stumbles across a new breed of plant he names "Audrey II" after his coworker crush. In time, Krellborn discovers Audrey II needs more than water and plant food to survive.
Lead actor Felix Underwood, a Bexley High School senior, said portraying Krellborn gives him an opportunity to play against type.
" 'Little Shop' and especially the character Seymour Krellborn really stuck out to me because it was unlike any other character I've ever played," Underwood said. "I usually play the bad boy or the suave-looking guy, but this is such a little step back. I play a timid, nerdy guy, so it's a great experience."
Camden Burns, a senior who plays Audrey II, said starring in "Little Shop of Horrors" has a special significance.
"This was the first show I ever saw," she said. "I kind of fell in love with it, the first time I saw it, and I swore that I was going to be in the show someday, and I was."
Other coming shows include: "937," Jan. 14; "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Jr.," Jan. 31 through Feb. 2; "The Entire American Revolution (in 40 Minutes or Less)," Feb. 25; "The Bold, the Young, and the Murdered," March 13-14; "Mamma Mia," April 11-13; "Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind (30 Plays in 60 Minutes)," May 3-4; "Haphazardly Ever After" May 16-19.
Throughout the season, the Thespians Improv Team will present a series of performances titled "Whose Lion is it Anyway?" featuring improvised comedy and skits, on Nov. 30, Feb. 8 and April 26. Performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Cassingham Theater.
Tickets can be purchased at www.bexleytheatreparents.org, or in person at the Bexley High School box office in the Cassingham complex.