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Teachers, students unite for all-school production
Broadway musical 'Fame' brings together band, choir and teachers.

The cast of La Quinta High School's production of "Fame: The Musical" dance on stage during a first act musical number on opening night. The cast and crew were comprised by many campus groups including drama, band and choir, and also featured two teachers as cast members.

Students and teachers talk about "Fame."

Sheree Hyduke, 18, student: "I've done outside productions, but this is my first production at La Quinta."

Aubrey Perkins, 17, student: "They asked for dancers, so I decided to try out. I've been dancing on and off all my life."

Toby Bickley, 17, student: "I'm loving it. It's helped me develop singing skills."

Katie Keener, teacher: "I'm a new teacher. I thought it would be fun to get involved in a school activity."

Lauren Garrott, teacher: "I thought it would be fun and a way to get involved with students outside the classroom."

Christine Mahr
The Desert Sun
May 22, 2006

When Sharon Deady tried to figure out what spring musical La Quinta High School would stage this year, she decided it should be a school production rather than just a drama department project.

"I said, 'Come singers, come dancers, come musicians,'" said Deady, guest director for the spring musical.

And come they did.

When the popular 1980s Broadway musical "Fame" was staged over the weekend, the cast and crew included drama students, band and choir members, dancers and even math teachers.

"I wanted to do something that involved the whole school, and I'm very excited about the way it's turned out," said Deady.

Deady also liked the idea of staging "Fame" because it's about students and teachers.

The La Quinta students and teachers who answered Deady's call included some with stage experience and some who've spent little or no time on stage.

"It's been about 15 years since I've done anything on stage," said Lauren Garrott, who teaches geometry.

"I thought it would be fun and a way to get involved with students outside the classroom," Garrott said.

"(Deady) put the notice out she wanted some teachers, and here I am," she said.

Playing an English teacher in "Fame," she enjoyed her return to the stage.

Garrott said that in college she was involved in a lot of theater projects and almost minored in theater.

Algebra teacher Katie Keener played the part of a dance teacher.

"I said, 'I think I can do that,'" said Keener, who took dance classes as a child and then later became involved in community theater.

When Deady put out the call for students and teachers to get involved in "Fame," Keener was quick to respond.

"I'm a new teacher," she said. "I thought it would be fun to get involved in a school activity."

Mary Brown, yet another math teacher, wanted to be a part of "Fame," but off stage rather than on.

Brown, who learned to sew as a child, handled costumes, which involved researching fashion in the '80s.

"What did people look like then and what can we find cheap - those were the big issues," said Brown, an advanced algebra teacher.

"Fame" also attracted some students new to the La Quinta High stage.

Senior Sheree Hyduke, 18, has attended the Idyllwild Arts Academy and been involved in outside productions such as the National Date Festival pageant, but this was her first appearance in a La Quinta High production.

"It's my senior year, and I love the show because it's great music, so I decided, 'What the heck, I'll try out and see what I get,'" she said.

What she got was the role of Serena Katz, who's shy but finds a love interest who changes her.

"It's a great role," Hyduke said.

Junior Toby Bickley, 17, had a role in a fall production at the school, but this is his first musical.

"The fall play was a huge success, but it was pure acting," he said.

"I wanted to try a musical to develop new skills - singing skills," Bickley said.

Bickley moved here from New Mexico about a year ago and saw the move as an opportunity to become less isolated and to open himself up to opportunities to express himself - much like the character, Nick Piazza, he plays in "Fame."

And he may have found his calling.

"My mother said to find something I want to do the rest of my life, and I told her, 'Maybe it's acting,'" Bickley said, adding, "I'm loving it."

Deady said too many people discount fine arts programs in the schools and don't realize how students can benefit from them.

As an example, she cites students' involvement in stage productions.

"It reinforces academics," Deady said. "You use math to build sets, you use language to understand Shakespeare."

"And many times, it's what they come to school for," Deady said.



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