CHARLESTON, W.Va. - George Washington High School drama club students took a big chance last year by scheduling their spring production at the Civic Center's Little Theater.
Thanks to supportive teachers and parents and a generous sponsor, the show was a success, so much so that the drama club is doing it again, with a weekend production of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying."
And the show's student director, Nick Staples, believes a tradition has been established.
"There are people pledged to carry it on," he said. As a senior, Staples is happy to hear that.
Last year, Staples directed the show and took a leadership role in everything from scheduling the theater to renting the set and designing the lights.
This year, he's not only directing, but also playing a lead role and serving as choreographer.
Last year and now, he credits a big team for helping bring the production to fruition, a good thing since besides this show he's juggling another acting job. Next weekend he will appear in the ensemble of the Charleston Light Opera Guild production of "Evita." Fortunately, its director, Nina Pasinetti, gave him the week off to concentrate on his GW show.
Staples isn't complaining about his busy schedule.
"I wanted to do as much as I could this year," he said.
He credited GW English teacher Azaraeen Mullins and his dad, Brett, for providing adult guidance and student Taylor Bird for assisting him in directing the show. Musician Mark Scarpelli is leading the orchestra, composed of students and musicians from the community.
"We learned a lot last year. Coming into it this year, we knew exactly what we were getting ourselves into, what to bring and what to expect," Staples said.
"We have a great cast and a great group of kids and everyone listens really well - it ended up working really well," he said. "It's a very talented group of kids. There's only 20 of us, but these are some of the most powerful singers and dancers around."
GW junior Lily Odekirk plays the female lead opposite Staples. As a veteran actress - this show marks her 30th production in Charleston - Odekirk said it can be difficult to decide between local theater shows.
This one was a no-brainer.
"For this particular show, my heart was just in it. I'm so enthralled with the support and devotion that every kid in this production shows," she said. "Every kid is so committed - and we're all 14 to 18 years old.
"And the production is really phenomenal," she added.
While Staples' job as director is to guide and critique his fellow actors, he said he also has taken constructive criticism, from them and from his teacher and his dad.