Theater students host first fall festival
Actors from Victoria West High School had fun in downtown Victoria's DeLeon Plaza on Saturday.
In its inaugural year, the Victoria West High School Theater Club hosted its first fall festival with skits, a cakewalk, witches' brew, rat toss and pumpkin bowling. Popcorn, pickles, hamburgers and caramel apples kept hungry festival-goers happy.
"We hope to break even - we're just here to say hello to the community," said Melissa Jecker, the high school's theater teacher and club adviser. "The kids wanted to show the city we are here."
About 20 club members have worked on the festival since the second week of school, Jecker said.
"Theater helps students feel comfortable talking in front of people," Jecker said. "For example, theater experience can help students in law school."
Jecker teaches six theater classes. Levels one and two of technical theater teach students behind-the-scenes skills such as set design, stage makeup, lighting and sound.
Four levels of theater classes teach onstage skills ranging from blocking to improvisation to character development.
Jecker wants her students to leave her classes able to "hit the ground running" if they choose to pursue acting in college or in their careers.
Actors need headshots and resumes, she said. They need to dress properly for auditions, know how to handle cold readings and make immediate character choices.
Jecker graduated with a degree in theater performance from the University of Memphis in Tennessee.
After graduation, she worked for an Atlanta production company in background casting for movies such as "48," "The Internship," and "Anchorman 2."
The 1999 Victoria High School alumna returned to her hometown, Victoria, to teach theater and perform in Theatre Victoria productions.
Chelsea Olson, the theater club's 16-year-old publicist, attended the festival in costume and spoke all day with a Scottish accent. The hair and makeup artist for both school and Theatre Victoria productions came as Merida from the Disney movie "Brave."
Olson delved into theater in the seventh grade because it reminded her of her hometown, Las Vegas, where life was over-dramatic.
"I realized during the first show I saw in Vegas, 'Beauty and the Beast,' that I wanted to work in theater," Olson said.
She hopes to study theater at the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle when she graduates from high school.
Timothy Ripple, 16-year-old theater club president, began acting in the sixth grade but prefers the backstage work.
"Acting was scary, and I'd get stage fright," Ripple said. "I enjoyed it but got scared every time I had to do it."
Last year, he coordinated technical special effects, props and set design for his school's performance of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol."
The first districtwide performance of "Little Shop of Horrors" with a cast of students from both East and West high schools opens in January at the Fine Arts Center. Rehearsals for the play, directed by the center's manager, Randy Wachtel, are underway.
In the spring, Jecker hopes to produce a jukebox musical at Victoria West High School.
"It will be a blast from the past," she said. "But I don't want to say much until we have the rights to it."