Hastings High School students will perform the play "Once in a Lifetime" this fall. The show begins as vaudeville's hay-days come to an end and three of its actors find themselves without much in the bank and no idea what to do next with their lives. So, they travel to Hollywood and try to find a place in the growing movie industry. The show mirrors the upbeat, colorful and glamorous aspects of the film industry in the 1920s.
Along with the excitement of movie business comes the stress of finding work, shooting a movie and pleasing a boss who can (literally) bring people to tears when he disproves of their choices or acting.
The Hastings production includes three acts, 27 actors and too many costume changes and props to count in one sitting. While some students play one role (Nathan Schindler, Eliana Lawrence and Nate Klinger, for example, play the vaudeville trio) the majority of actors have more than one role, requiring a near jigsaw puzzle-like plan to determine who plays what when and where they appear on stage.
This highly detailed plan is the same for the props. Since the play includes scenes of "filming" a movie, there are bridesmaids dresses, ladders and lights for the lighting specialists, cameras and numerous other large items that take time to set-up and remove. During rehearsals, director Molly McElroy had the performers practice bringing set pieces and props on and off stage to ensure that no one had to mime opening a door or operating a mic boom during a performance.
Despite all of the logistics that come with performing "Once in a Lifetime," the Hastings students are able to transition from scene to scene, act to act without letting the audience know about all of the work happening back stage and when the curtain goes down.
While this show focuses on the vaudeville trio, it takes time to turn the spotlight (no pun intended) onto the other 24 actors and it gives them the opportunity to make a witty joke or show-off their lovely French accent.
The play is a little long, about two hours and 30 minutes but there will be an intermission after act one and a five-minute stretch break after act two.
If you go...
What: Hastings High School's production of "Once in a Lifetime."
Where: Hastings High School theater, 200 General Sieben Drive
When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 15 and 16; 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17