The Gift of the Magi, FC’s fall drama production, marks seniors Kendall Wheeler’s and Jacob Williams’s second-to-last high school performance. I met with both students to gather information about their feelings regarding this bittersweet occasion.
Their accomplishments of attaining the lead roles, coupled with their dedication to drama throughout high school, provided me with a behind-the-scenes look into the lives of the people behind characters, Jim and Della Young.
Kendall Wheeler (Della Young)
Houts: Describe your experience with Susan Ainley, the new high school drama director.
Wheeler: Mrs. Ainley is the third drama teacher I?ve had while at FC. Each one has been completely different than the last. I really like Mrs. Ainley, though. She knew what plays we would be doing before the year even started and made us get going on it way beforehand. And I love that, because I?ve never felt this prepared for a play before.
Houts: How do you relate to your character, Della Young?
Wheeler: I somewhat like her, but it?s really different this time around. I?m having a really difficult time connecting with my character. She?s this ever-happy, always joyful, optimistic person and I?ve never really been an optimistic person about everything. However, I do like her a lot and playing this role has inspired me to be a little bit more optimistic.
Houts: How do you feel in regards to your accomplishment of acquiring the lead female role?
Wheeler: Playing the lead is an interesting thing. This is the second time I?ve had a somewhat large role and I always love it. I would love to play any character, but I feel really honored to be allowed to play the lead. It can get a bit stressful when I have no time to memorize lines or I have to miss drama for other activities. Yet, I do enjoy the rush and the feeling of being on stage and acting while trying to remember a million lines.
Houts: The Gift of the Magi takes place during the Christmas season. What is your opinion about this holiday?
Wheeler: I love Christmas. I absolutely adore Christmas. It makes me so happy and joyful. There aren?t really words to describe it. I love being with friends and family and the winter and the lights and everything.
Houts: What have your biggest obstacles been throughout this production, personally and as a group?
Wheeler: As a cast, it?s been a struggle probably meshing together. While we have become great friends and quite close, there are a lot of new people in drama this year. It?s a completely different class with a completely different group of people and trying to find a niche and figure out what to do with each person in the play has been a bit difficult.
However, we have overcome this and now we are really close. We know what each other?s strengths and weaknesses are and we work to help out and overcome these problems. When one person is struggling with lines, another offers to go over them and if someone needs help with blocking, another person can help them get it down.
Personally, my own struggles have been juggling drama along with all the other stuff going on in my life. With three AP classes, clubs and a lot of extracurriculars, it?s difficult to memorize every line and have the blocking down perfectly. It?s a struggle, but I?ve figured it out and have attempted to make it work out. I think it?s going well so far, even if I do get a little stressed out what with being pulled in so many different directions.
Houts: Describe your experience with Mrs. Ainley as the new high school director.
Wheeler: It scared me at first because I knew that she’d only taught junior high before this, but it’s worked out. She’s different from the other teachers we’ve had, but it’s been a fun experience that I’ve enjoyed.
Jacob Williams (Jim Young)
Houts: How can you relate to your character, Jim Young?
Williams: I see him as a lot like me. He bumbles a lot and has to make things up on the spot because he doesn’t really want to show his wife the way he cares for her, he wants to surprise her. He isn’t good at lying and I see a lot of that in me as well.
Houts: How do you feel in regards to your accomplishment of acquiring the lead male role?
Williams: It’s fun, I’ve been waiting for this since freshman year. Freshman year I got into the play for that and ever since, it’s always felt as if the reason why I didn’t get the lead roles was because I wasn’t yet a senior. So now that it’s senior year, it’s fun to have a lead role finally.
Houts: Have you enjoyed working with Wheeler as the other lead?
Williams: Kenna is a lot of fun. She’s always out there. I’ll make a joke and she’ll come right back at it, so it’s a lot of fun to work with her.
Houts: Why do you enjoy drama?
Williams: It’s really family-oriented for me. Drama goes way back in my family to my parents and grandparents acting, so it’s been fun to keep the family tradition going.
Houts: How does it feel to be participating in your second to last high school theater production?
Williams: It’s fun because I know that this is important since it’s my senior year, but it’s also a little-heart jerking because I know this is my second-to-last play as a high school student. Freshman year I thought “Oh, this will go on for years,” but it’s almost over so it’s a little hard.
Drama will be performing The Gift of the Magi, Nov. 18 and 19 at 7 p.m. in Ground Zero. For more information, read the Nov. 15 article, BRIEF: ‘Gift of the Magi’ sets drama’s holiday season in motion.