For the next two weekends, Seattle Public Theater’s High School Ensemble will be presenting Mary Zimmerman’s Secret in the Wings. This is not the first piece by Zimmerman, a member of Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre Company, that SPT’s Youth Program has produced. The high school ensemble has previously tackled her adaptation of Arabian Nights, and her Tony Award-winning version of Metamorphoses. But neither of those proved as complex a challenge as Secret in the Wings has given our students this summer. Erica Hansen, student stage manager for the show, calls it crazy. “There’s too much stuff! But we have an awesome team, and a million props people, so we’re having fun with it.”
Why is the show so complicated? You’ll have to wait and see. The play intertwines a number of different fairy tales, with a definite edge, and both actors and audience get “completely swept up” into the fantasy world. Noelle McCabe, an actor in the show, describes Secret’s ensemble nature: “There are several individual stories, but you see the same actors in every story, and the audience feels a part of it too. There aren’t really any leads, and we’re all playing a bunch of different parts.” The show also incorporates significant amounts of music, some from the original Chicago production, so much so that cast members describe it as “almost half a musical,” a departure from the high school ensemble’s typical shows.
Despite its complexity, Aviva Wynn, who is acting in the show, says that the cast “feels very prepared.” She adds that, “it feels like this rehearsal process has flown by, even though it’s a hard show to do.” Aviva was one of the students that pushed for this show to be done, partially because she was not allowed to see Seattle Repertory Theater’s 2005 production. Her parents brought home a poster, and she has wanted to do the show ever since.
Now she has gotten her chance, and is loving every minute of it. Aviva says that she feels very close to her castmates in this show, in part because “there are a lot of shared lines, so we need to feel connected.” Noelle concurs, saying “I feel closer to the new people in the cast than I ever have, because we all have to rely on each other to make sure we get to where we need to be, in the right costume, with the right props.”
Secret in the Wings plays for two weekends, July 23rd-31st. More information at www.seattlepublictheater.org.