Comics Come to Life in Middle School Play

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When a comic book artist’s magical pen brings action and adventure to the Lencke Theater stage, it is up to a group of quirky middle school superheroes to save the day. The middle school fall play, “The Comic Book Artist,” told the story of D.C. Wunderman, a comic book shop owner, who accidentally brings a supervillain to life off the page of the comics.

Aspiring artist Stanley Leonardo Sappovitz, played by eighth grader Davis Olds, must save the city by creating a league of superheroes, The Fabulous Four.

This unique superhero tale has something for everyone, especially high schoolers. Director of Fine Arts Meg Foster said, “‘The Comic Book Artist’ has a huge superhero component, which is a popular theme in 2017, so it appeals to all ages. These characters are not your typical superheroes, but it’s a story anyone will enjoy.”

The students rehearsed tirelessly to bring comics to life in this light-hearted, entertaining production. Olds said, “With this show, one of the things that most excites me is being able to explore different aspects of the emotional scale. There are lighthearted moments and jokes for the younger audience, as well as more serious parts for the older audience.”

The middle school theater department encourages students of all grades to use their talents in a production. Whether it is performing live onstage, designing the sets or giving stage directions, every cast member has an important role that contributes to the success of “The Comic Book Artist.” Director Stephanie Simmons recognized the students as the best part of directing the play this year, specifically the “very talented group of eighth graders we have this year. It has been a blessing to have directed many of them for the past four years and an even bigger blessing to watch them grow as performers.”

After weeks of rehearsals and costume fittings, “The Comic Book Artist” cast was proud of their performance and seeing their hard work pay off. Foster admits that her favorite part of helping with middle school productions is “remembering where they started and then enjoying the finished product. I love seeing how much the students grow through the show.”

“The Comic Book Artist” premiered Oct. 20 in Lencke Theater and anticipation for the play was immense around the Wesleyan community. Before the dress rehearsal, Simmons said, “I’m excited to see it all come together.  This script has been on the forefront of my mind for a couple of years.  The cast is doing a great job of making the characters come to life, so paired with all of the fun production framework, it will be really fun to see it all finally come to fruition.”

With the success of the fall play, the middle school students now look forward to future productions, including their spring musical, “Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory.” Eighth grader Nadia Thieriot said, “For me, the best part of being in the middle school play is getting to form friendships. Theater has connected me with so many people at Wesleyan that I wouldn’t have met otherwise.”

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