FUHS actors, crew bring The Little Prince to life

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Photo by Anette Araiza

Whether depicting trees or a three-piece fox puppet, the cast must work together to create multiple worlds in The Little Prince.

Anette Araiza and Sheila Ruiz

Senior Nate Baesel was scheduled to perform as Trunchbull in Matilda when school shut down March 13, 2020. It was a role that would showcase his talent and passion for theater. Senior David Block put in countless hours to make Matilda’s energetic and colorful lighting come to life. 

Instead, on opening night, the theater went dark. Students went home to finish the year on Zoom. They had to switch to the intimacy of face-to-screen performance rather than bold stage acting.  

So it was a bit emotional Nov. 5 at The Little Prince’s opening night. Baesel was back on stage; Block was back in the tech booth. Actors told the Tribe Tribune that they regained their connection to theater and being back was truly special.

Audiences can still see that magic for themselves on Nov. 12 and Nov. 13 at 6:30 p.m. and Nov. 13 at 1:30 p.m. in the FUHS Little Theater. Tickets ($10 without IFL and $8 with IFL) are available at fuhs.booktix.com and at the door.

Although cast members, including senior Tari Cuevas, wear masks during the show, the audience soon forgets about COVID protocols once the play begins. Photo by Sydney Rosas

The Little Prince is about an aviator who crashes his plane into the middle of the Sahara Desert. He then meets a “little prince” who explains his adventure-filled life story to the aviator and addresses themes of love, loss and friendship. While the prince faces his own problems, he helps the aviator revive his passion for art, along with his adventurous spirit.

Director Michael Despars explains that he chose The Little Prince as a show for the whole family, to bring back the inner-child that audience members may have lost touch with during quarantine.

Baesel, who plays the aviator, says he has had trouble returning to his full acting abilities after enduring a year of online acting.

“I’ve been putting a lot of pressure on myself to do the best that I can,” Baesel said. “Pushing myself to return to how I was, confidence wise, two years ago is hard, but I think that’s one of the more fulfilling things about doing the show.”

Students also were responsible for creating and managing lighting, hair and makeup, set design, props, sound, projections, stage and house management.

One of the anchors of the show is the ensemble. Ensemble members, dressed in neutral colors representing the Sahara Desert, portray many aspects of the environment. They pose as trees, become the sunset, create a sandstorm, and even control the planets.

One of the 26 hardworking ensemble members, sophomore Cole Frausto, explained how integral teamwork is, specifically in managing the stage-sized tarps used to represent the Sahara sand or the ocean.

“The tarps are really hard to maneuver,” Frausto said. “It really takes a team. It took a lot of practice because we have to be in perfect sync to create that 3d effect. It took us quite a few rehearsals to get it down perfectly.”

Ensemble cast members lift the Little Prince (junior Ryder Tucker) as he flies through the galaxy. Photo by Anette Araiza

Junior Ryder Tucker, who plays the Little Prince, said the dance lifts took immense teamwork.

“The lifts were almost cut because of how difficult they are,” Tucker said. “Because I’m falling backwards off of a platform, I really need to trust in these people. I basically trust them with my life. It’s such a personal thing, being held above their heads. It took lots of rehearsals, but in the end the hard work paid off despite how scary it was.”

In the first act, when the little prince meets the aviator, the ensemble cast holds up four different colored silk sheets in a multi-level formation to represent the sunset. On specific words of dialogue, each sheet is dropped and immediately whisked backstage.

During the Nov. 6 performance, this sunset scene was interrupted by a broken lightbulb on stage. In an earlier scene, ensemble members bumped into the person handling a plane prop which triggered the shattered glass. The technical crew moved quickly and effectively to solve the problem.

Frausto said: “Our amazing backstage technical person Harley Hall was able to crawl behind the beautiful silks that were used to make the sunsets. We slightly lowered them while the scene was still in full action, and he was able to get all the glass. It was nearly unnoticeable. The show never stopped.”

Senior David Block designed the lights for the show. Sophomore Jojo Fares plays a snake. Photo by Anette Araiza

The show’s smooth transitions are a credit to lighting designer senior David Block, who programmed different colored and patterned lighting to correspond with each scene.

“When we first start each show we do a read through,” Block said. “Every cast member sits down in the theater and we just read through the whole script. That’s when I do most of my notes. I start thinking, ‘Oh, this would look really good here.’ I started thinking about designs and concepts, so ever since then I have been thinking up what I would do. Now I’m actually seeing it, and I can say ‘That turned out how I planned’ or ‘I need to create something else.’”

The different color lights in every scene reveal the personality of every character. Block said that it’s a lot of work, but seeing the lighting together with the actors on stage gives him a real sense of accomplishment. 

Most costumes are earth tones, but Alexis Helmer (pictured) and Sarah Kelekoma as the Rose make a stunning entrance in red. Photo by Anette Araiza

“Each part has a different character that represents a different motif or a lesson in the story, so it’s mostly about color theory,” Block said. “What color brings out this emotion or this feeling within the audience? In the conceited person scene I used a very bright pink to show their flashy personality.”

The cast for Nov. 12 and Nov. 13 at 6:30 p.m. includes senior Evan Jacobson as the aviator, Sarah Kelekoma as the rose, Sydney Parker as the snake, Mollie Holbrook as the fox, Ian Klatzker as the king, Tari Cuevas as the conceited man, Cole Frausto as the business man, Katherine Timmerman as the lamplighter, Emily Gjevre as the geographer.

The cast for Nov. 13 at 1:30 p.m. includes senior Nate Baesel as the aviator, Alexis Helmer as the rose, Jordan Fares as the snake, Avery Hung as the fox, Donny Cannady as the king, Charlotte Krammer as the conceited man, Logan Atkinson as the business man,  Lily McWatters as the lamplighter, Syd Rosas as the geographer. Emma Jacobson plays the desert flower for all performances. Ryder Tucker plays the little prince for all performances.

Campus arts editor Sophia Galvan contributed to this story.

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