PUBLISHED: 7:05 PM on Wednesday, November 5, 2008
New high school show a wild, madcap comedy
JUNEAU - Orphaned Patrick has his life turned upside down when he is sent to live with his eccentric, free-spirited aunt Mame after his father's death. But the conservative executor of his father's estate does not approve of Mame's wild lifestyle and her influence on Patrick

Conflict, chaos and a lot of laughs result in the Juneau Douglas High School production of "Auntie Mame" opening Nov. 7 at 7 p.m.

Katie Spielberger photo
  Juneau-Douglas High School senior Chelsea Rothchild, far right, will portray Mame in the JDHS Theatre production of "Auntie Mame" that premieres Nov. 7. "If you picture the most out-there person, that's who Mame is," Rothchild says. About 45 students from JDHS and Thunder Mountain High School will be in the show.
"My character is a crazy lady," said senior Chelsea Rothchild, who plays Mame. "If you picture the most out-there person, that's who Mame is."

Rothchild has a lot of energy and enthusiasm, which must be a prerequisite for a character who changes clothes six times during the play. Whenever Rothchild is not on stage, she is most likely hurrying to get into a new outfit.

Rothchild has played a range of roles in JDHS drama productions, but none of them have dominated the stage the way Mame does.

"Learning how to be a big person on stage is really interesting," Rothchild said.

The production itself is a large one as well. About 45 students from JDHS and Thunder Mountain High School will be in the show.

"We try to do big shows to include as many kids as possible," said director Michaela Moore. "I think we like ("Mame") because there are a lot of characters in it but they all have places to shine."

The play is based on a 1955 book, which was turned into a film in 1958. The movie was billed as "an irreverent escapade," but the production is still appropriate for the whole family.

"It's hard to find comedies that fit in a high school setting," Moore said, but "Auntie Mame" fits the bill.

The set, designed by Lucas Hoiland, is as high-energy as the characters. It has to be to keep up with Mame's changing tastes. She redecorates about seven times during the play, and different walls "fly in and out" of the set, Hoiland said.

"Every time you see a scene in her house, it is different," Moore said. "And Mame changes costumes more than she changes her walls. Mame never really gets a break."

Emily King, a sophomore at TMHS, is in her first high school production as Vera Charles, the alcoholic actress friend of Mame.

"(Vera) is very egotistical and flamboyant," King said. "Mame is her best friend (but) she takes advantage of Mame. They both want the spotlight."

It's not quite the same for King and Rothchild, who both say they work together well. King credits the people in the drama department for making her first experience in high school theatre a good one.

"I've enjoyed meeting all the theatre kids," King said. "The kids who do this are so much fun."

Said Rothchild: "It's a wonderful show. I hope everyone comes to see it."

The Juneau-Douglas High School drama department will present "Auntie Mame" Nov. 7, 8, 14 and 15 at 7 p.m. each night. The production lasts about two and half hours, including intermission. Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for students and seniors and are available at Hearthside Books or for $2 more at the door.