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Seventeen-year-old Deejay Derego said everyone can relate to the title character in the latest Juneau-Douglas High School theater production, "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day."
"There's hope for a better tomorrow even if the day really sucks," said Derego, cast as the protagonist. "It kind of happens to everyone so it doesn't make you any less of a person."
The final JDHS student production of the season opens at 7 tonight in the JDHS auditorium. The play also will be performed in the auditorium at 7 p.m. May 16, and at 2 and 7 p.m. May 17. Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for students and seniors. They are available at Hearthside Books and at the student activities office.
Michaela Moore, the JDHS drama teacher and a producer and director of "Alexander," said she wanted to stage a play that appeals to children and families.
"I'm trying to do a season where it's balanced and reaches everyone," she said. "There's not a lot of family shows that come to town, or kid shows, so that's another reason I wanted to do that."
This is the first time since the 2003-04 school year that the theater department has staged three shows in one year, said fellow director and producer Lucas Hoiland. The school produced "M*A*S*H" in November and "Les Miserables" in February.
"I just felt like two wasn't enough for the amount of kids that we have, and you want to give as many different kids the opportunity to act on stage as you can," Moore said. "And with two plays, that's a little more difficult to do. When you have three, it's easier to share the wealth and pass it around."
Senior Amanda Edwards, 18, said there is a wide range of experience among the actors, and the younger students are getting to learn the ropes of the theater department.
"It's really great because a lot of less experienced people have gotten into it, so it's kind of like the next generation for next year," said Edwards, who portrays Alexander's mother.
Derego agreed, saying, "It's the perfect mix of inexperienced actors and experienced actors that just kind of come together and mesh into one. It's been a great experience to learn, to teach and just to be there with the best of them."
"Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day," based off the Judith Viorst children's book of the same name, follows the trials and tribulations of a day when the title character wakes up with gum in his hair.
"Basically the book takes place in one day of this little kid's life," she said. "It talks about all the things kids go through universally. You know, troubles at school, trouble with friends, trouble with family, siblings, having to go to the dentist."
Although a child, Alexander is a rich and complicated character that both children and adults can relate to, Moore said.
"The thing about Alexander is he's got a pretty funny perspective on life," she said. "He is pessimistic. He sees the glass half empty instead of half full, and so even though sometimes bad things really aren't happening to him, he thinks that they are."
"I think he's really misunderstood," Derego said. "He goes into things with the right intentions, but he's kind of like that annoying kid in class, but he doesn't know he's annoying, so everyone has to try a little extra to put up with him."
Both Derego and Edwards said there are some universal lessons that can learned from the play.
"No matter what's going wrong today, tomorrow can be brighter and look forward to that," Edwards said.