Two Harlem High School seniors are awaiting the debut this week of a play they co-wrote, directed and choreographed .
Harlem High seniors Joshua Philpot and Avery Lewis will raise the curtain on their writing and directoral debut of Trapped in Christmas Town, on the school’s stage Thursday, beginning at 7 p.m.
The pair said they came up with the idea while discussing what they could do in place of the regular variety show the theater department normally performs this time of year.
“The variety shows are good, but they’re not good enough,” Lewis said. “We thought, ‘What if we wrote it?’ And then we were like, ‘What if we used all of the Christmas characters?’ So it just kind of budded from there and we started adding plot lines to it and we started adding music to it.”
Lewis choreographed the show, and Philpot directed it.
The pair’s teacher, Kelly Cook, a new drama teacher at Harlem High, said she was thrilled the students brought the idea for a play.
The result is a nearly two-hour show Cook calls family-friendly and fun.
“Two kids are playing hide-and-go-seek and they find a remote and it takes them to all of these different holidays and then Christmas. They get stuck and their remote gets broken so they have to go meet all these different Christmas characters like Buddy the Elf, Frosty, Santa, to find the remote so they can get back home,” Lewis explained.
The two seniors said they have only been working on the production since August, but are not any more nervous than they would be as part of any other show.
“There’s a few nerves, but it’s nerves you get for every show you’re in no matter what, no matter if you’re in it or directing it,” Philpot said. “So there are nerves, but mostly, I am very proud of everything and all of the hard work that everybody has put in for us and am very, very excited to see our masterpiece come to life.”
Philpot and Lewis are both planning to attend theater programs when they graduate.
Lewis, a Rockettes fan, was recently accepted to the musical theater program at Columbus State University. Philpot said he has two schools in New York that have shown interest in him, as well as a third school in California, where he plans to pursue a career in performing.
Cook said the student play is the first step in her department’s efforts to reboot the theater program at the school, with a focus on drawing in the community.
And the play offers something for everyone, she said.
“It’s very family- and children-friendly,” Cook said. “You’ll see all sorts of your favorite Christmas characters – everything from Santa to the Griswolds. It’s great.”
The show will take place at Harlem High School. Show times are: 7 p.m. Thursday; 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday; and 7 p.m. Dec. 11.