“Hércule’s Labours of Love”
Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp Youth Festival rehearse their production of “Hércule’s Labours of Love.”
Steamboat Springs Like any incoming high school freshman, 14-year-old Charlie Tisch is a little nervous for the start of school.
But when he walks into Steamboat Springs High School in just a few weeks he said he’ll do it with newfound confidence after playing the lead role in a Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp production of “Hèrcule’s Labours of Love,” a fantasy high school-themed Greek myth with clear parallels to the young cast’s lives.
“I think it’s made me so much more comfortable in myself,” Charlie said.
Animated and wide-eyed during tech rehearsal Wednesday, he described his role in tonight’s world premiere performance of the show, which was written by New Yorkers Aaron and Anna Jones and directed by Alex Correia.
“I think he’s kind of a loner, just an average kid in school,” Charlie said.
He admitted that he felt some connection to his character’s emotions. “It just feels like you’re not important.”
Still, the writers, director and choreographer saw something in the quiet, freckled teenager and cast him in the lead role even though he had never sang on stage, and his previous acting role consisted of only three lines.
“You meet him and you immediately root for him,” co-writer Anna Jones said. And her words rang true for both Charlie and his character.
“Hèrcule’s Labours of Love,” is one of six pieces making its world premiere during today's and Friday’s Youth Festival, which culminates the month-long Youth Artist Intensive for eighth- through 10th-graders.
Performances of the four dances, one play and one musical take place ay 7:30 p.m. both days. Tickets are $15.
Students come from across the country to participate in the program, and there are about 20 local students who attend the school as day-campers.
“Everyone’s a happy family here,” Charlie said. “We all love the same things.”
The play, “Nancy Blue: Girl Detective,” is a youthful approach to film noir, and the students watched “Casablanca” and “Notorious” to prepare for their roles.
“It’s really about how do you learn to be an actor who’s an artist,” play director Raelle Myrick-Hodges said.
For the musical production, Anna and her husband Aaron Jones wanted to create a work teenagers could relate to.
“They seem to understand fantasy in a different way than adults,” Anna said. “They more easily slip into it.”
The hero is in love with the class dreamer, a spacey Madeleine with bouncy curls. From the point of view of Hèrcule, the audience is thrust into his psyche with dream sequences and sudden jumps in the vein of teenage impulse.
To try and win her heart, Hèrcule tries to transform himself into someone more likeable. But he ends up finding, as teenagers often do, that the best way to get the girl is to just be yourself.
“He learns to just … stay with your friends and don’t just try to be popular,” Charlie said.
Hèrcule isn’t the only one undergoing transformations.
The faculty has noticed that Steamboat Springs High School rising junior Mary Wilingham also has taken on new responsibilities as a leader within the production.
“That’s been beautiful, to watch her find that strength within herself,” movement director Alicia White said about Mary. “And if that’s what we can instill in them … that’s a successful camp.”
And while freshmen year looms, Charlie at least knows the bonds he’s forged at camp will carry over into school.
While talking about his entrance into high school just before taking their places at rehearsal, Mary slapped Charlie high five and exclaimed, “We’re going to be the bestest of friends.”
To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@SteamboatToday.com