Back to the Future: The Drama Department goes back to the ’70s


Maddie Whisenant

Wally, played by Evan Wilmoth, and Ellen, played by Morgan Spaulding participate in a hula dancing scene on stage

Maddie Whisenant, News Editor

The spotlights will soon be shining down on “A Vacancy in Paradise,” a comedic drama originally based in the 1940s but modified to take place in the ‘70s. The production is centered around a man named Wally who is staying in a cabin at Paradise Glenn and discovers how desperate the place is for some love and renovations. He encounters Ellen, the owner’s daughter, and works hard to improve the cabin. Paradise Glenn is known for being a wedding hotspot, so Wally advertises its romantic appeal to customers. As a result, women line up to participate in the weddings for publicity, but besides Wally, no men are present.
Renae Hubbard, Theatre Arts teacher, chose “A Vacancy in Paradise” with the strengths of this year’s students in mind.
“I have always loved the play. It’s one of my favorite plays, and I was looking for a generation of students that had really good comedic timing because that’s what this play needs,” Hubbard said.
Given only a month of rehearsal time, the cast has strived to work hard and make the characters in this show come alive. Senior Evan Wilmoth, who plays Wally, is excited about playing the male lead, a role he has never had before.
“I like just the amount of work I get to do [when] building [the] character. There’s a lot of different moments and lines to work with,” Wilmoth said.
Not only has the production offered valuable learning opportunities, but gave the cast a chance to bond.
“It’s been a really good experience. I’ve gotten to know everyone in the cast really well and most of us are pretty close,” he said.
Student director, junior Caroline Hoover has also enjoyed this sense of unity the cast has created.
“[The cast is] very talented and they’re very loving towards each other. It’s a very close-knit community, and I’m really excited with how it’s looking,” Hoover said.
Unlike previous shows, this production requires a little more research when it comes to producing an authentic environment. Despite a low budget, the tech crew has been working hard to create a set that reflects the fashion and lifestyle of the decade. Bright colors, old-fashioned furniture and retro artwork have been added to create that true ‘70s feel.
“It’s supposed to be a very on-purpose ugly set when usually we try to make them kind of pretty…. [The set] required stairs and an upper level. [When it comes to] the costume aspects, we haven’t had a play in the 1970s ever, really. Just working in that decade visually has been really fun.” Hubbard said.
With this production being in a different decade than the drama department usually focuses on, the cast has been stretching their abilities as actors and venturing beyond their comfort zones.
“Because it is an older show, I think it has required the actors to do a lot of research, especially in comedy and stuff, and knowing how it works, and so I think having to understand it in order [to] make the proper delivery [is difficult],” Hoover said.
The Drama Department is thrilled to open the curtains for “A Vacancy in Paradise” Nov. 17-19 at 7 p.m. Tickets will be available in advance and at the door on performance nights for $5.