Guy Myers has turned the Burroughs drama department around.
When he started teaching English during the 2006-07 school year, there was only a drama class and play production class. After he took over the drama department in 2007-08, he proposed a musical theater class.
"I thought if we gave them different options, it would bring in more kids," he said. "And the musical theater class filled up."
During that year, so much excitement was built up, they had to add another class for the 2008-09 school year.
Next year another drama class will be added, which will bring the theater program to five classes.
"Which is a really fast growth," said Myers, who received his bachelor's degree in theater studies from <runtime:topic id="OREDU0000166">Yale University</runtime:topic>. "Lots of times it take years, and we've been really fortunate, and I've had a lot of support from the administration, students and parents, and I've been really lucky."
And the students feel just as fortunate, said junior Robby Motz, 16.
Robby is in his first semester in the drama program. Myers' positive approach coaching the students with their acting techniques is why Myers has had so much success with the program, Robby said.
"Mr. Myers has shown me what it's like to be an actor," he said. "He's a really good model for that and a really good director. He never criticizes us, but says, 'That was good, but I need you to do this.' He's there every step of the way."
Robby is among 40 students and 10 crew members in rehearsals for a production of the <runtime:topic id="01000000045918">romantic</runtime:topic> <runtime:topic id="010000000943">comedy</runtime:topic> "Vacancy in Paradise" by John Kirkpatrick, opening Thursday and continuing through Sunday in the auditorium.
The show is about a vacation spot with several cabins on a lake that no one uses anymore. An advertising executive happens in, and is so charmed by the woman who runs it that he comes up with marketing schemes suggesting people will meet the people of their dreams at the vacation place. Quite a few women show up, and hilarity ensues, Myers said.
"It was written in the 1960s and takes place in the 1940s," he said. "It's very charming — a cute little script."
Myers said he had never heard of the play until a senior student suggested it last year. He read it over the summer and thought it would work well.
When the students are choosing plays to produce, Myers said he reminds them to think like a director.
"I ask them to consider the appropriateness of the material, the size of the cast, the feasibility of the production regarding acquiring/making sets and costumes and budgetary concerns because they have to purchase the rights to the show and the costumes and props," he said. "It adds up a lot faster than you think."
One of the things Myers is especially proud of is that he has pulled together several campus departments to work on different aspects of the production, he said. The wood shop built the sets, and the photography department snapped the headshots for a display in the lobby.
"In the past, we've utilized the dance department to choreograph a piece for us, and also all the performing arts classes ¿¿¿ vocal, instrumental, dance and drama ¿¿¿ put on a show together each year," he said. "In May we are doing 'A Chorus Line.'"
"I've tried to branch out and work with all the other departments," Myers added. "It gets students excited about creative arts and teaches them that theater is a truly collaborative process. And the wood shop kids turn that skill into a job. Especially in <runtime:topic id="PLGEO100100102380000">Los Angeles</runtime:topic>, they do need people to build sets. Or become a set designer."
What: "Vacancy in Paradise" a romantic comedy by John Kirkpatrick presented by the Burroughs Dramatic Assn.
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Nov. 20; 2 p.m. Nov. 21
Where: Burroughs auditorium, 1920 W. Clark Ave., <runtime:topic id="PLGEO100100102381100">Burbank</runtime:topic>
Cost: $10, $8 for students, seniors and faculty