The Hemet High Children’s Theater class turned their theater into the Richard Scarry classic
■ By Corey Evan / Reporter
Anyone who grew up in the ‘90s and watched Nick Jr. probably remember watching “The Busy World of Richard Scarry” every weekday when school was out. Now, over 20 years later, Hemet High School’s Children’s Theater class brought Richard Scarry’s “Busytown” to life, attracting sellout crowds to the Bulldog Theater on Jan. 25, 26 and 27.
The Valley Chronicle took the opportunity to learn from HHS theater teacher Bret Cherland just what went into building Busytown for the kids of Hemet.
“We’ve been working on the show for about three months,” said Cherland. “During our third period class, which is our Children’s Theater class. The last few weeks [were] the most work, basically since we got back to school at the beginning of January.”
Between two classes, there were over 60 students involved in the play. A fan of the Busytown series himself– he watches the Busytown Mysteries with his own kids today–Cherland seemed to know this town like the back of his hand.
It’s worth noting that tickets were free for students in both the Hemet and San Jacinto School districts, but some attendees made donations to the HHS Theatre Program.
The entire cast of colorful characters were there; Sergeant Murphy, Bananas Gorilla, Mr. Fixit, and Mr. Frumble were among the working cast members.
The play was largely based on Scarry’s 1968 illustrated book, “What do people do all day?” which sees Huckle Cat going around town learning what the grown-ups of Busytown do to make a living. He also gets the chance to help a friend prepare a birthday surprise, including a cake for her grandma. All the while his best friend, Lowly Worm, delivers the invitation to their friend’s grandma.
Along the way, they learn what they do best: working together to achieve a common goal. As a result, we learn that each of the characters has a hand in Busytown’s future; Huckle still needs practice baking in the grown-ups’ oven, and Lowly’s nurse wants his hand (or is it foot?) in marriage someday.
The theater crew had as much fun as the kids who watched (and interacted with) the show! That’s the most important thing here; this was designed for audience interaction. Kids do get bored, you know.
As for senior Indah Rekoske, who played Huckle in this rendition, the role was pretty much a cakewalk for her. “This wasn’t my first male character,” Rekoske explained. “Actually, my first character I ever played in this theater was a male, My freshman year!” Rekoske says she’s only played one female character, but don’t be alarmed. In Shakespeare’s day, males often played female characters.
But behind the scenes, senior Ashley Goodale served as production manager, and was cooking up a storm. “The sad thing about the show was that we were under-recruited; We did not have a lot of techies,” said Goodale. “So, a lot of the times [when she wasn’t making sure cast and crew were doing what they were supposed to] I would have to be making props.”
Goodale got help from Cherland and Rekoske, including the creation of the Lowly Worm puppet!
Both Rekoske and Goodale are International Thespian Society members (Troupe 4015). Neither of these girls have their future plans rolled out yet, but the needed ingredients at least, are all there!
When it all came out of the oven, audiences found it to be quite the treat. Afterward, not only were cast and crew sharing hugs, they shared photo ops with their fans. Gotta love meet and greets.
Next on Cherland’s list of productions is every princess’ favorite glass slipper engagement, “Cinderella,” dates to be announced. Keep up with all the HHS Theatre Department has going on this semester by visiting www.hemethigh.com, and under “Activities”, select “Theater events.”