FOLEY — Last year, the Foley High School Theater Department hit the stage with a modern rendition of the musical "Godspell." Now, they're preparing to pack the house with the play "Steel …
FOLEY — Last year, the Foley High School Theater Department hit the stage with a modern rendition of the musical "Godspell." Now, they're preparing to pack the house with the play "Steel Magnolias" to begin another stellar season.
Logan Lane came to FHS two years ago as an English teacher. A graduate of Foley High and a musical theater major, Lane also inherited the theater department when he came on board.
"I teach three different theater classes, so our program is probably pushing 100 students if you count all of the students who are in the classes and then people who are involved outside of class through extra-curriculum," Lane said.
Lane's first year, the theater department performed a showcase of musical theater numbers and scenes, a Christmas showcase featuring approximately 70 students, and one full-length musical in "Godspell," featuring a cast of roughly 30.
This year, the department will produce three full-blown productions, "Steel Magnolias," "Elf JR.," and "Freaky Friday."
And Lane plans for the program to continue to grow.
Lane was involved with the theater program during his time attending Foley High School. He then left for Texas Christian University, where he majored in musical theater.
"I try to bring the experiences I've had in professional theater to my rehearsals, to my classes," he said. "Last year we were able to talk to a lot of people via Zoom who are involved in many different careers in theatre, whether it be costume design, lighting design, and I have a friend I graduated with who's about to make his Broadway debut, so there's a lot going on."
Lane remains active in community theater, performing often with Foley's newest theater troupe, Exit Stage Left. He encourages interested students to audition in community theater as well.
Learning all aspects of theatre
Lane said theater is for all types of people, whether they're into performing or not. Though, he said, it's a treat to see students shake off doubts and fears and find their voice.
"A lot of the students that we get have never really done anything like this before, so it's pretty remarkable to watch them be like, 'I don't really get up in front of people,' and then all of a sudden they want to sing a song in front of somebody," Lane said.
"It's also about trying to reach out to those students that don't want to perform and let them know that that's okay, because we need the people that are backstage, and if anything, that's where the jobs are, that's where the careers are," he added. "There's costume designers, stage managers, set designers – a lot of different opportunities."
It takes a village
A stage production doesn't happen overnight. Nor, Lane said, does it happen working alone.
"Steel Magnolias" is largely set inside a beauty salon. Two of the student stars had the opportunity to visit the South Baldwin Center for Technology and learn directly from the cosmetology students there. Now, they can bring a touch of real-life hair styling to their performances.
"It's those kinds of things that people don't necessarily think about with researching a role," Lane said. "The great thing about theater is there's the potential for so many crossovers. I teach English, so I see the parallels in reading and literature and script analysis, but even our kids that like to build, that are interested in carpentry, welding, you name it, theaters hire those people all the time. We're working very hard to get the program built up, and we have a lot of good fine arts programs going on here at Foley."
The FHS art department assists with sets, the choir department helps students with singing roles and the school's sound production class loans out wireless mics for the theatre department to use during productions. Students in the production class run sound for the theater department's shows.
"They're getting hands on experience and kind of bridging those gaps," Lane said. "The fine arts really team up here, which is great, and we're looking to see who else we can team up with because it takes a village. It's a big undertaking."
The arts impact life
Lane said he's seen firsthand the impact fine arts can have on students.
"I have seen students go from failing every single class to having straight A's, not exaggerating, and it's because of something like this program," he said. "Theater is helping with reading, it's helping with writing, it's helping with creativity. It's teaching kids how to work together, it's teaching them time management skills, leadership, collaboration, the whole nine yards."
Lane said elementary students within the Foley feeder pattern will be coming to see the high school perform Elf JR. in December. A new theater teacher has recently been hired at Foley Middle School, and she and Lane are already talking about collaborating.
Lane said he hopes to introduce students to theater at an early age, exposing them to the different careers and opportunities available within the world of theatre.