By Katie Walters, CFNN Editor/Reporter

There were once days when the seats of Cape Fear’s auditorium were filled with people eager to see the next big production by the theatre program. As time has passed, those seats have become more and more empty. 

Theatre is a way for people to express themselves, especially for our students at Cape Fear, including myself. It provides an escape from reality. Whether it’s a short monologue in class or an entire show, us performers are allowed to have a “second life” for those periods of time.

I have always been a fan of Cape Fear’s theatre shows, so when I entered the school as a freshman in 2017, I was very enthusiastic about becoming a part of the program. 

I soon realized that it was not living up to its fullest potential.

Now, as a junior, I’ve taken the time to fully understand each aspect of our theatre program, and how everything comes together. 

I spoke with Cape Fear’s theatre teacher, Kerri-Ann Raynor, about her experiences through the 4 years she has taught here.

In the spring of 2017, Alice in Wonderland was Mrs. Raynor’s first production from start to finish. Following that, the shows have been, Murder Mystery at the Murder Mystery; Haphazardly Ever After; Me, My Selfie, and I; Zombie Night; 12 Angry Jurors; and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which will be performed this spring. 

There are many factors that need to be considered when choosing a production. These include the choice between a play and a musical, how many people are needed, and the different parts that need to be portrayed correctly. 

While all of these are essential to the decision, the most important factor are the people who will be in the show.

“I look at what our talent pool is,” says Raynor. “Who I know is usually going to come out for shows, and I pick them based on their individual talents and strengths, as well as what has worked in other shows.”

Lorelei Harr and Ebony
perform a comedic scene.

Of course, before getting any roles, every student must go through an audition. She does not precast, but when reviewing a potential production, she analyzes her students in order to get an idea of whether a certain role would be a good fit for the student.

“I definitely look and go, ‘I could see this person play this part, this part or this part’, and engage what I have,” she states.

This process does have its obstacles. It’s already a challenge to find new people. Through lack of work-ethic and insecurities, as well as the unwillingness to try, there are some potentially great performers who don’t have what it takes to be a part of a show. One persistent issue, however, is the lack of males in theatre.

Raynor said, “Males, for some reason, think that theatre is a feminine thing, and it’s not. From what I’ve seen, there are many who want to participate in theatre, but are hesitant.” Without enough male performers, it can be extremely difficult to find a show that will be a good fit for everyone. This is a false stereotype, and it prevents talented people from pursuing something that can truly highlight a student’s talents.

While untrue, this stereotype is very common, not just at Cape Fear, but all around the world. One significant reason that theatre is viewed this way is because of what our school is focused on – athletics. 

We are always incredibly proud and supportive of our athletics department. It is one of Cape Fear’s major strengths. Athletics have a tendency to bring people together, and that is what lies at the heart of our school. 

“A school’s focus determines what they’ll be passionate about. Cape Fear is centered around athletics, so that’s what they will be most passionate about,” says Raynor. We definitely want to bring more attention to our theatre program, and we’re open to new ideas that will help.

Ebony and Lorelei sitting in class.

There are more extracurriculars being offered for theatre students who want to go the extra mile. There’s International Thespian Society to recognize students who have played a significant role in theatre during their time in high school. One new addition this year is All County Theatre, where a select group of students are chosen to represent their school through a group skit, as well as individual monologues.

In order to create more opportunities for students, a prominent feature of most clubs is fundraising. Theatre has not had a real fundraiser in a long time, and our goal is to start one in the upcoming school year. We have considered several ideas, and we are open to any suggestions!

This money will go towards the budget for productions, as well as to cover the cost of the International Thespian Society induction fees to those who cannot afford it.

Theatre is a glue that holds people together. Through self-expression, team building, and learning what it takes to put on a production, there are many valuable life lessons that can be learned in this program.

One wish I have before I graduate next year is to see this program return to its former glory. I hope with the help of our student body and our supportive community, we can make this happen.