- July 23, 2018
When Olympia High School opened 20 years ago, Titan Theatre students staged “Little Shop of Horrors” in the program’s inaugural year.
Two decades later, the theater department is pulling music and scenes from this and nearly two dozen other performances throughout the school’s history for a show-stopping celebration of the talent that comes out of Olympia.
Theater director Ed Budd is thrilled with the way this show has come together — although this wasn’t the original idea for spring 2022.
“We had the plans to do ‘Schoolhouse Rock Live,’ and … I’m a Gen-Xer and I hear the chance to do ‘Schoolhouse Rock Live,’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah!’” he said. “The students were none too thrilled. (Their reaction was), ‘We’re doing a little kid show?’”
He acquiesced and, once he realized this was a monumental year, he jumped at the chance to put together a 20-year retrospective.
“Rather than me being the dictatorial director of how this is going to be done, the students have a lot of ownership with their songs,” Budd said. “I listed out every show we’ve done, mainstage, in the last 20 years. (I told them), ‘Anything you want to do — scene, song, monologue. Bring it to the audition. The more ready it is, the better chance you have of it getting in the show.’
“The students worked hard to make it show-ready,” he said.
He likens the show to the Tony Awards ceremony without the awards — simply an evening of recognition of excellent live Broadway theater.
It was important to not only honor the actors and actresses but also the technicians from the last 20 years. So he devised a game show called “Technically Speaking.”
“We’ll have a volunteer from the audience who’s an alumni tech go against one of our current techs,” Budd said. “It’s bragging rights.”
He reached out to alumni theater students and directors hoping they would return to the school for the show. The program includes the current cast of students and Budd as host, but alumni who show up on one of the nights are welcome to introduce the performances.
Budd credits several assistants for helping him get the show to the stage: the school’s vocal director, Christine Le, and two choreographers, Marissa Enyart and Mark Huffman. Penguin Point Productions, in Oviedo, helped with costuming.
While all shows in the theater department’s history will be mentioned during the program, only a select number will include performances, Budd said.
The audience will be treated to songs and dialogue from “Little Shop of Horrors”; “Bye, Bye, Birdie”; “Carnival”; “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”; “Flowers in the Desert”; “Godspell”; “The Princess Bride”; “Barnum”; “Alice in Wonderland”; “Anything Goes”; “You Can’t Take it with You”; “Barefoot in the Park”; “Fiddler on the Roof”; “Hairspray”; “Arabian Nights”; “The Addams Family”; “Twelve Angry Men”; “Once on this Island”; “Little Mermaid”; “Almost Maine”; “Friends – The One with the Baby on the Bus”; “The Glass Menagerie”; and “Chicago.”
Two performances will feature scenes from recent shows affected by COVID-19. The “Friends” show was performed only on Zoom, and “Chicago” has been deemed “the show that never was” because the department was prepared to hit the stage in March 2020 but then the pandemic halted everything.
Olympia students have been honing their stage skills under Budd’s direction since 2004.
“My style of theater tends to be very New York but not Broadway, the smaller stages — a concentration of acting over flash.”
Budd is concerned about the future of the Titan Theatre program, which is fully self-funded.
“We invested a lot of money with ‘Chicago,’ and with ‘Chicago’ shutting down in March 2020, our theater has never really recovered,” he said. “Our club is hurting because, while the band programs and the choral and orchestra programs get state funding, theater programs don’t get any state funding.”
Budd said he and his students are prepared and excited for an evening of vocal and acting excellence.
“I’m just ready for anything; every night is going to be fly by the seat of your pants,” Budd said. “I have a tuxedo; I’m ready to go.”