The newest addition to serial drama on Capitol Hill chronicles the ups and downs of high school life. As presented by Bad Actors Productions, don't expect any insight into the life of real teenagers living on the Hill.
"This is a riff on all those high school TV shows that you hate but watch anyway," said Jason Sharp, Bad Actors marketing director who plays Red, an indie rocker, in the show. "We're looking to capture that audience share of people stumbling out of bars and looking for some late night entertainment."
Playwright and director Dan Dembiczak started "Capitol Hill High" as a small cabaret show for a friend's bar. However the script kept growing. With 14 characters and a tangled plot line that paid homage to Dembiczak's favorite high school dramas, the show needed a bigger stage.
"It's 90210, Heathers, Mean Girls, and every teen movie that I've ever watched," said Dembiczak, a Seattle actor and playwright who very briefly worked as an extra on the King Kong of high school dramas, Aaron Spelling's "90210."
As his script grew ever larger and more ambitious, Dembiczak started to look for a company to produce it.
"I started Outcast Productions in 2000. I did four shows under that name and then I was burnt out on producing," said Dembiczak.
His Capitol Hill theater experiences had made Dembiczak familiar with Bad Actors Productions, the people who had already launched the musicals "Desperate Liaisons" and "The Exorcist: The Musical."
"I thought 'Capitol Hill High' would be a good fit for them," said Dembiczak.
For their next show, Bad Actors Productions had been discussing "Jaws the Musical," an adaptation of the shark movie set in a gay bathhouse, said Sharp. But the company quickly recognized the potential of "Capitol Hill High" as an entrant in the late night entertainment scene.
"Our style of hammering out a show really worked for this show," said Sharp.
Bad Actor founding members and regulars Sharp, Josh Harvtvigson and Craig Trolli took on major roles in the drama as well as the production tasks needed to get the show up and going.
"I play Red, the stupid straight boy part," said Sharp. "Josh plays Lance, the transfer student from Walla Walla. Craig plays the stereotypical gay guy-because Craig always gets cast in that role!"
In the first episode, called "The Queen Isn't Dead Yet," sophomore transplant Lance becomes embroiled in a "scandalous bloodletting race" for Capitol Hill High's Homecoming Queen.
"It's just a really fun show," said Dembiczak. "And part of that fun is watching people in an age range of 27 to 41 playing 15- to 16-year-olds."
If the show takes off, Dembiczak is already ready with a second episode following the characters' continuing trials and tribulations.
"I have sketched out each character's story arc. Doing this as an episodic drama gives me a lot of flexibility-it lets me play with plot in a fun new way," he said.
Right now, Bad Actor Productions plans to do "at least six episodes" of "Capitol Hill High," probably putting up a new episode once every three or four months, said Sharp.
The first episode will play at the Capitol Hill Arts Center, 1621 12th Ave., in the new basement space. "Capitol Hill High: The Queen Isn't Dead Yet" opens Thursday, Feb. 9 and runs through Feb. 25. Shows start at 10:30 p.m. on Thursday through Saturday. Tickets are $10 and no teenagers are allowed (the venue is 21 or older and ID required); go to www.brownpapertickets.com. For more information, call 388-0569.
Rosemary Jones writes about arts and entertainment for the Capitol Hill Times. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.