Hahnville High School students take the stage and act in classic children’s book rendition
Student actors in Hahnville High’s talented drama club have been hard at work for the past month practicing for their latest performance, “Miss Nelson is Missing,” based on the classic children’s book. “With the help of faculty actors Eugenie Smith and Craig Matherne, the kids along with the student designers have begun working to bring the book to life,” said talented theater teacher Dan Ruiz. “It has been so much fun for them to act like really bad students without any consequences. Every good student wishes they could be bad for a day!”
The play stars Smith as Miss Nelson, a sweet teacher who can’t control her crazy classroom because she’s just too nice. But when she disappears, her replacement is the hard-as-nails, detention-loving, recess-canceling, homework-overloading substitute teacher Viola Swamp.
Ruiz says that playing the role of Miss Viola Swamp has been a dream come true for Smith because it has allowed her to say and do many things that she wishes she could do in her real classroom.
“How often can a teacher hold students hostage in the classroom and make them do work during recess,” jokingly asks Ruiz. “Well, Miss Viola Swamp can and does with great joy.”
Audiences can expect to see one of their favorite colorfully illustrated children’s books come to life for the first time with the Hahnville production.
“This is always a magical and unique theater experience because when we read books as children, especially with illustrations, we imagine in our creative minds what this terrible classroom is really like,” said Ruiz. “But now we ‘ll get to see it in hilarious live action.”
Students and parents alike rave this book as a favorite growing up, which is what prompted the club to put on the show.
“The drama club chose this play because we have made it a mission of produce at least one production a year that is fun for the whole family,” added Ruiz. “We thought that there was no better way to do that than with this production – a recreation of a famous children’s book that parents, current students and young kids even love now.
“It also gives students the opportunity to play people very close to their age in roles that they only dreamed of being when they were in elementary school.”
Student costume designer, senior Candace LaRosse, is using the book’s illustrations as an inspiration for the costumes and has been rummaging through the HHS costume stock room to repurpose a lot of the very colorful 1970s and 80s dresses and skirts.
“We have received huge donations over the years of quite vibrant costumes that no one wants to wear anymore,” said Ruiz. “And we’re cutting those up and fashioning them together into new pieces for the kids to wear, sort of like a school uniform, but much more fun.
“Miss Swamps costume is a secret, but let’s just say that it’s easy to find clothing for her at Halloween.”
“Miss Nelson is Missing” takes the stage at Hahnville High School on Thursday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. and on Sunday, Oct. 25 at 3 p.m.
Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students. All are available at the door.