Canyon Crest Academy's Envision theatre program will explore right and wrong, and good versus evil, in its two productions in the upcoming season.
"Antigone," presented as a drama, and "Jekyll and Hyde," performed as a musical, each aim to make actors and audiences question who and what they should believe in.
In the Greek mythology story "Antigone," the main protagonist and title character fights and defies the law in order for her brother to receive a proper burial. However, the powerful King Creon does not share the same beliefs.
Guest director Steve Lipinsky, a former professional equity theatre actor, chose for the students to perform an adaptation of the play that is set in 1940s Germany during World War II.
He said his students can relate to the production because it's "like a teenage rebellion," in which Antigone does everything she can to stand up for what she believes in. But what happens when someone's end game ends up being the wrong choice?
Lapinsky also wants viewers to decide whether they completely side with Antigone or if they can also sympathize with Creon, who offers an alternate point of view.
"It's really for the audience to decide between that black and white," he said.
Because teenagers are often faced with distinguishing between right and wrong, and standing up for their beliefs, Lipinksy said he hopes the show resonates with his students.
"A lot of these kids — hopefully all of them — have something they want to make better in the world," he said. "They might not agree with some kind of injustice, whether it's politically, environmentally or whatever it is. This is an example of someone who, maybe, has gone too far and who does not see the big picture. I want Antigone to be a morality lesson."
Jeannine Marquie, CCA's theatre teacher, regularly brings in guest directors, such as Lapinsky, to offer her students an advantage in the theatre world. She'll often bring in experts in performing arts fields like stage combat, dancing and accents to help her students shape their crafts.
In the past, Broadway stars such as Susan Egan have shared their talents with students. On Feb. 10, Christian Hoff of Broadway's "Jersey Boys" will perform with students for the school's annual gala, "Oh! What a Night!"
"I think this rounds out their education in a way that most schools don't offer their students," she said. "They get to see there's more than just the applause at the end of this process."
For "Jekyll and Hyde," which tells the classic tale of internal struggle and is loosely based on the book "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," Marquie brought in musical director Leigh Scarritt and choreographer Shirley Johnston.
While the title roles are traditionally played by a single performer, Marquie wanted to highlight two students by casting two different boys as Jekyll and Hyde.
She said this decision not only provides more opportunities for her students, but also allows the audience to fully explore the two sides.
"In the book, Hyde is described as hunched over, smaller than Jekyll, diminished and grotesque," Marquie said. "It would be impossible to have one actor do that effectively. I really want the audience to get the idea that while Hyde has taken over, Jekyll is still in there and can't get out."
Tickets for each show range from $6 to $15. "Antigone" is presented on various days from March 15 to March 30 in CCA's Black Box Theatre. "Jekyll and Hyde" will be performed on various days from March 16 to March 31 in the school's Proscenium Theatre.
For more information about the theatre program, visit www.cca-envision.org/events.