A Bishop's Perspective: JDHS's stage comes alive

It seems to me that everyone has heard the name “Susan Boyle”, the unsuspecting talent that showed up on the doorstep of “Britain’s Got Talent” – shocking everyone with her powerful voice and singing “I Dreamed a Dream.” In line with her, I believe that here within this wonderful community of ours is some unsuspecting talent.

Coming out of an early morning Mass on Jan. 20, I learned from a couple of Juneau-Douglas High School students that they were putting on a play entitled, “Kiss Me Kate”. As we stood there talking, the youth explained the plot to me. In learning a little more about the production I was told that it is a play within a play with the interior play being that of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.” The production, written by Cole Porter, played on Broadway and lasted for more than a thousands shows in the Big Apple. In 1949, it won the Tony Award for Best Musical. Sixty-three years later, it came to life again in the capital of Alaska.

Knowing a number of the cast – I was struck by how the play helped them to portray their confident selves. Hearing their booming voices and observing their sure steps — I rejoiced in how they presented themselves in perfect timing with each other. Then, I asked myself how on earth they were able to memorize all of their lines?

Meeting in the atrium before and after the play, I had the chance to interact with a number of parents, grandparents, siblings and close friends of the actors and staff of the play. They shared an excitement and many were appropriately proud of their friends and family members.

Our society is need of the arts — it helps lift the spirit and pulls on the God given creative nature in all of us. We are reminded in scripture that we are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). The creative aspect of God our Father is reflected in our ability to apply this creativity within the arts for the common good. Last year, Pope Benedict XVI said, “Works of art open the door to the infinite, to a beauty and a truth that goes beyond the ordinary. A work of art can open the eyes of the mind and heart. Perhaps sometimes, before a sculpture, a painting, a few verses of a poem or a song, you have experienced deep within an intimate emotion, a sense of joy, that is to have clearly perceived that in front of you there was not only matter, a piece of marble or bronze, a painted canvas, a series of letters or a combination of sounds, but something bigger, something that speaks, capable of touching the heart, of communicating a message; elevating the soul.”

Lending their creative nature to lift the soul of this community, I offer gratitude to those who had a part in the success of this production: Michaela Moore (Director), Richard Moore (Conductor), Ricci Adan (Choreographer), Rosie Humphrey (Accompanist), Bo Anderson (Set Design). The lead actors were: Rebekah Badilla as Kate, Zac Watt as Fred and Petruchio, Asia Ver as Lois, and Colton Welch as Bill and Lucentio. Other actors included Aria Moore, Aaron Abella, Ellen Dyar, Ariana Orford, Taylor Vidic, Max Blust, Robert Newman, David Mendivil, Zeb Bodine, Ellis Notmeyer, Seth Bodine, Jessica Jones, Bethany Cummins, Megan Wright, Clarie Dyar, Sarah Johnson, Madison Truitt, Chad Boyer, Robert Vancleave and many others who served as members of the chorus or on the lighting and stage crew.

There is so much to explore relative to the arts in Juneau, including the programs at Thunder Mountain High School. And while there are plenty of things to write about these days – I did not want to miss the opportunity to express my support to the young people of this community who had a part in “Kiss Me Kate”. What I saw on that auditorium stage was impressive, to say the least. The evening was filled with song and dance, passion and energy. From my perspective — “Juneau’s Got Talent.” To all those involved in this wonderful production… Bravo!

• Burns is the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Juneau and Southeast Alaska.


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