Part II: Drama students in ‘Across the Universe’ concert

The high school drama class. Back row

The Islands’ Sounder is running a series on “Across the Universe: A Celebration in Concert,” a benefit for Orcas Center. The production weaves Beatles songs into a tale of love and revolution. Directed by Grace McCune and Jake Perrine, the concert will feature the Rock on the Rock Choir, local dancers, a live band and the high school drama class. The show will run Friday and Saturday, May 8-9 and 15-16 at 7:30 p.m. Featured below is a profile of the drama class.

When the high school students step on stage and sing songs about love and social revolution, it will be the culmination of a year-long drama class.

Orcas School’s 18 theater students will be in “Across the Universe: A Celebration in Concert” coming to Orcas Center in May. The production showcases Beatles songs and brings together the Rock on the Rock Choir and local dancers and musicians.

“Performing gives you the opportunity to try something that is beyond yourself,” said Jake Perrine, who helps teach the drama course and is also co-director with Grace McCune of the upcoming concert.

“The students all accept each other in a beautiful way,” Perrine said. “I hope it’s the Beatles music doing their magic on them. I can’t wait to see what happens when there is an audience in front of them.”

The high school theater class is being paid for by an Orcas Island Education Foundation grant. After high school teacher Val Heller held a well-received theater literature class in 2013, OIEF and principal Kyle Freeman collaborated to make it a two-year program run through the English class.

Heller leads the academic portion one day a week, while Perrine works with the kids on performing two days a week.

“Jake knows a lot – he is over the top and very enthusiastic,” said junior Keith Light.

This fall, the students studied dramatic plays, wrote their own theatre pieces and performed in small groups. This spring they have been examining musical theater and working on their parts in Across the Universe.

For Light, this semester has been the most enjoyable.

“I like the fact that we’re actually doing something in a production,” he said. “I love musical productions. They convey so much more through song and dance than dialogue can.”

Light says the first album he purchased on iTunes was “Abbey Road.” He also owns the vinyl album.

Perrine couldn’t be happier that the Orcas Center benefit concert is dovetailing with the drama class.

“We aren’t going to see anything else enrapture so many people,” he said.

Four of the drama students are also in the adult choir: Emily Foster, Celestine Jensen, Madeleine Treneer and Mason Brown. Foster and Jensen are singing a duet of “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”

Perrine says the students do not have a lot of context for the social change of that era, but are learning about it and how it parallels with modern issues. Dave Roseberry, who is in the Rock on the Rock choir, spoke to the class about his time in Vietnam.

The students will perform “With a Little Help from my Friends,” “I Want You (She’s so Heavy),” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”

“The students really carry the trajectory of the production,” Perrine said.