Up The Down Staircase On Stage At Immanuel

Oct 19, 2013 | 2013 Articles, Arts & Entertainment

by Immanuel School

Immanuel Schools’ Performing Arts Department proudly presents Bel Kaufman’s Up the Down Staircase. There are eight performances. Tickets are $9.00 Adults, $6.00 Students/Seniors.

October 19 at 3:00 pm & 7:00 pm
October 20 at 3:00 pm & 7:00 pm
October 26 at 3:00 pm & 7:00 pm
October 27 at 3:00 pm & 7:00 pm

Up the Down Staircase is a classic teacher’s story,” said Immanuel Performing Arts Director, Rick Robbins. “The art of overcoming adversity in an effort to meet one’s objective, in this case, of teaching.”

Up the Down Staircase follows idealistic first-year English teacher, Sylvia Barrett, on her journey through learning to educate students in a tough inner city school. She quickly becomes discouraged, frustrated by petty bureaucracy, run-down facilities, the indifference of her students and the incompetence of many of her colleagues. How can she reach the students who so desperately need direction, without being overwhelmed with the challenges of the school environment? The story will unfold.

“Although the play was written in the 60s, the words and emotions of the characters still ring true today,” said Robbins. “The students struggle with issues of low self esteem, unhappy homes, jealousy, the lure of dropping out, language barriers and more.”

Up the Down Staircase
is Epistolary in form (from the Latin word Epistola: A letter). The plot is advanced largely through “announced” memos from the office, notes dropped in the trash, letters, student essays, lessons plans and opinions placed in the suggestion box. These messages are performed through “windows” in the set, as though the characters were delivering their words to the listeners directly.

Junior Kami Hinds (Sylvia Barrett) expressed her enjoyment of the play. “I have a similar view of the world as my character. Sylvia comes into the school with the innocence of not knowing what she was getting herself into,” said Hinds, “The kids come from typically harsh situations in life and Sylvia is blind to it at the beginning.” In discussing her role, Hinds added, “Through the show, Sylvia learns the stories of the kids and how to deal with them. This show has opened my eyes to what really is out in the world.” When asked about her biggest challenge of the show, Hinds replied, “becoming my character, Sylvia Barrett. She is well educated and has been through things in life that I haven’t, such as graduating college and a masters program.”

Senior Khalil Montgomery, playing the tough and troubled Joe Ferone, echoed his appeal to the play process. “I like the play a lot and my character is an easy one for me to play,” Montgomery said. “I struggled a bit in the beginning because of all the lines, but I have them down now and am very excited for the show to start!”

Portraying Paul Barringer – Sylvia’s colleague – Senior Caleb Robbins is a veteran of the stage, with 12 Immanuel productions in his credits. “One of my favorite parts of this show are the suggestion box windows that various teachers and students appear in throughout the show,” Caleb Robbins said. “It’s fun to be behind a window-door one second, and then the next second, you appear onstage and deliver your lines, and then you are once again behind the door of your window.”

Up the Down Staircase is filled with plot twists, drama, complicated romance, and comedy,” said Hinds. “I recommend it to everyone!”

Featured actors in Immanuel’s Up the Down Staircase include: Seniors: Khalil Montgomery (Joe Ferone), Caleb Robbins (Paul Barringer), Malia Hoff (Alice Blake), Ryne Preheim (Harry Kagan), Sadie Ascanio (Elizabeth Ellis), Madelyn Neufeld (Rachel Gordon), Morgan Reynolds (Carrie Blaine), CJ Dodd (Conner Wolzow), Juniors: Kami Hinds (Sylvia Barrett), Aria Proctor (Bea Schacter), Sabrina Henderson (Ellen Thompson), Anthony Acosta (Charles Arrons), Aneesha Isaac (Jill Norris), DayV’aughn Montgomery (Edward Williams, Esq.), Tomas Regalado (Jose Rodriguez), Samantha Swan-James (Helen Arbuzzi), Sophomores: Robbie Heriman (Lou Martin), Curtis McDonald (Lennie Newmark), Hannah Bradden (Linda Rosen), Kayla Forsythe (Vivian Payne), Quintin Reineccius (Rusty O’Brien), Adrianna Oliver (Francine Gardner), and Freshman Gabby Duff (Carole Blanca).

The production also features three guest actors: Mr. Jeff March, a teacher at Immanuel is playing J.J. McHabe; Mrs. Jerolyn Robbins, a teacher and alumnus (’87) of Immanuel is playing Charlotte Wolf and Mr. Eric Backer, a recent alumnus of Immanuel (’12) is playing Samuel Bester.

The author, Bella “Bel” Kaufman, born in 1911 and still living today, is the granddaughter of the great Yiddish storyteller, Sholem Aleichem (whose stories inspired the writing of the Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof). Kaufman wrote Up the Down Staircase as a novel in 1965, and is based on Kaufman’s own experiences as a teacher in New York City. The novel was a great success, spending 64 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list. A film of the same name was produced in 1967, starring Sandy Dennis.

The play is being staged at the Immanuel School’s Performing Arts Chapel, located at 1128 S. Reed Avenue. Doors will open 30 minutes before show time. Tickets may be purchased in advance or at the door. To purchase advance tickets, visit the school office or our website at www.immanuelschools.com or call (559) 638-2529.

The Immanuel Performing Arts Department will also produce Andrew Lloyd Webber’s popular musical Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in 10 performances, November 16-24.


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