Josiah Burton and Jaylee Webster rehearse "Something Rotten" on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022, at Soldotna High School in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Josiah Burton and Jaylee Webster rehearse "Something Rotten" on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022, at Soldotna High School in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

School productions bring SpongeBob SquarePants, Sherlock Holmes to the stage

Nikiski and Soldotna drama programs prepare for April productions

Only a week into the spring semester at local high schools, drama and theater programs are hard at work preparing for their next shows. Nikiski Middle/High School and Soldotna High School drama are respectively bringing pop culture icons SpongeBob SquarePants and Sherlock Holmes to the stage in April.

Soldotna High School

“Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure” will be performed in the SoHi auditorium on April 20, 21 and 22.

Director Sara Erfurth said Tuesday the cast and crew had come together for their first read through earlier that day.

“I’ve always loved Sherlock Holmes stories. I think they’re fascinating,” she said. “The character dynamics between Sherlock and Watson are always really fun, and you have the added benefit of a mystery.”

The Victorian setting makes a lot of room for fun costuming and set design too, she said.

Drama at SoHi is healthy, Erfurth said, having recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic with successful performances like the musical “Something Rotten” in November.

SoHi Drama is about “trying to help the next generation of theater students become interested in what there is to offer,” Erfurth said.

“I want students to find theater to be a place where they can feel safe and welcome … Someplace they can take pride in their accomplishments.”

Nikiski Middle/High School

“SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical” will be performed in the Nikiski Middle/High School auditorium on April 28 and 29, as well as May 5 and 6.

Director Carla Jenness said Tuesday that the musical appealed because it has some color, fun and silliness — but it also brings “chops.”

The songs in the musical were written by recognizable names including David Bowie, Sara Bareilles, Steven Tyler, Cyndi Lauper, the Plain White T’s and Panic! at the Disco.

Though SpongeBob is of course pretty goofy, Jenness said “it’s a real musical.”

Nikiski’s drama program also boasts strong numbers. Jenness said the cast features around 50 students, with another 10 working stagecraft.

Jenness took the reins of Nikiski’s program two years ago. She said her goal is to make participation accessible to any student, to break down divisions between “a jock” or “a theater kid.” To that end, the first musical she put on was “High School Musical.”

“Which was super obvious — this is the theme of what we’re doing. But that brought a bunch of kids that maybe didn’t think that theater was for them,” she said. “We rolled a basketball hoop onto the stage and were shooting hoops down in the auditorium all semester. It made a different group of kids feel comfortable down there.”

Auditions start next week, and Jenness said they’re looking for students and volunteers to help with costuming and set building.

More information about events at Soldotna High School and Nikiski Middle/High School can be found at their respective Facebook pages.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

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