After a tumultuous 2018-2019 year for the BHS theater program that left the club fractured and with a questionable future, Drama Club is pulling itself back together with a new advisor: Social Emotional and Academic Development Coach Tabitha Thomas.
Thomas grew up in summer stock theater and started high school drama in sixth grade. She said she has special expertise in dance since her mother was a dance teacher and she eventually taught dance herself at a school for children with mental disabilities. After that she was a director and choreographer for six years at another high school.
Thomas said she wants to focus her leadership on making BHS Drama Club into a positive community and give students the opportunity to keep growing and to not be afraid to try new things.
“I want to build a strong foundation with new students cycling in where senior students can mentor the new ones and build a sense of community, not competition,” said Thomas.
Part of this community-building includes Thomas’s offering of vocal, dance, and theatre workshops for all Drama Club members, old and new, because “I don’t want anyone to be afraid of or intimidated by the stage,” said Thomas.
“In addition, all auditions will be closed. Which means it will just be me, my production team, and the student who is auditioning,” said Thomas. “We will be smiling and encouraging throughout the whole audition so that there are no feelings of angst and students will feel welcome to try.”
Thomas is still working on building a production team which will consist of two assistant directors, one for technical directing such as set and lighting, and one for helping Thomas with her jobs. Due to her dance background, Thomas will be in charge of choreography and music teacher Marcia Wytral will be directing music.
In order to produce a quality production this year, the Drama Club will spend November through March rehearsing and preparing to put on a really good show, according to Thomas.
“I know usually the Drama Club puts on three shows a year, but since this year we are focusing on redefining the program and building from the ground-up, we are going to do what we can do knowing we can do it well,” said Thomas.
That show is “Once Upon A Mattress,” a musical comedy that is an adaptation of The Princess and the Pea where instead of the usual tale, “Princess Winnifred is an ungainly, brash girl competing for the hand of Prince Dauntless, whose domineering mother, Queen Aggravain, has declared he must marry a “true” princess before anyone else in the kingdom can marry,” according to its playbill.
Thomas stated that she always wanted to be involved in the BHS Drama Club but being occupied with five young children, she never was able to. Now with her children older and the directing position available, Thomas saw the perfect opportunity to get involved.
Last April, Drama Club found itself wrapped in a scandal that resulted in the retirement of its former advisor Jefferey Billard and the leaving of many student members and all participating teachers. The parties involved in the issue were exonerated but the club was hit hard, and all those returning are looking forward to starting a new year to move on from the problems of last.
Junior and two-year member of Drama Club, Gabrielle Cote expressed optimism about Thomas’s new role and the future of Drama Club under her leadership. The remaining members of Drama Club have already made some structural changes to the club to try and lessen the internal cliques and drama, according to Cote.
“In the past we had a leadership committee, which pretty much was based on seniority. It always caused a lot of hate between the upper and lower classmen, so now I’m happy we aren’t having officers. Instead we’re having student leaders, which consist of the best members who put in the most work,” said Cote.