As the fall term began to wind down to a close in area schools this past week, stages on campuses were filled with students demonstrating their various abilities to celebrate the season.
Among the offerings was at Cardozo Middle School, with the drama department putting on a show on both Friday and Saturday, Dec. 11 and 12.
What might happen when a whole toy department comes to life after the lights go out at the department store?
One version might be what was presented by the Cardozo Middle School Drama Department on the multi-purpose room’s stage.
Filled with quirky characters, from a Teddy Bear to a Bionic Warrior, clueless Pretty Hair Melinda and her pals, Beach Buff Ben and Surfer Sam, the story is filled with comedy and adventure.
Christine Wallen, sixth grade teacher and drama teacher, selected a comedy called “Toys R’ Alive” for the sixth and seventh grade students to perform. There were 14 actors and actresses along with five backstage crew members that managed the lighting and sound.
Wallen has been teaching at Cardozo Middle School for 21 years and has taken on the role of the drama teacher on and off for 12 years. The set design was provided by Wallen and her brother Dan Wallen. Costumes were created by Wallen, Lori Sauls and the actors.
The hour long performance was well attended with approximately 130 people each night, said the drama teacher.
“All the kids stood out, but there were two Surfin’ Dudes (Darby Dolls) who provided some very comedic moments played by Will Eitelgeorge and Jackson Tigert,” stated Wallen. “Also, we have a very funny and sarcastic Teddy Bear played by Sammi Sandoval and an evil Bionic Warrior played by Ryan Hetzler.”
Both performances were enthusiastically received, she added.
“The audience was amazed how well the actors knew all their lines, all their cues, and how well they interacted with one another on stage,” Wallen noted. “The actors were so excited and pumped up during the performance because the audience was laughing, which made them perform even better. After the performance, they were so proud of themselves because of all the applause from the audience and even all the cheering that came along with it.”
Also in the cast were Streetwise Sparkling Jewel played by Daniela Ruiz and a Career Girl named Colleen, played by Catrina Lowe, who had her eye on Dice, a no-nonsense Navy Seal doll. He was played by Tommy Wallen. Colleen undergoes a remarkable transformation to get Dice’s attention only to learn that she need not have changed at all.
There is a playboy millionaire doll named Mike who is really a secret agent, James Pond, 007. His lines throughout the play were punctuated by references by name of ‘Bond’ films in the real world, prompting chuckles and laughs from the audience.
Also on the stage were Raggedy Franny and Freda, lovable and mischievous, but tangling often with the grumpy Teddy Bear.
Teddy, on the other hand, thinks basketball celebrity Michelle “Blue Streak” Johnson, played by Kylee Rhodehouse, is just too cocky.
The dolls venture over to Aisle 10 for a little excitement, where they accidentally unleash the Bionic Warrior toy, who threatens everyone with his mission of destruction ... until his batteries run down.
The late arrival of the Princess, Shelby Jones, comes just before daylight and another day in the toy store.
The holiday performances just fueled the desire of the cast to get back on the stage.
“They want to do it again, so we are performing for an assembly on Wednesday (Dec. 16) for the sixth graders. They said they had a blast and cannot wait to do another play,” Wallen explained. “We are planning on doing another comedy in the Spring called, ‘A School for Nerds.’ Auditions will be after the Winter Break.”
News Correspondent Ric McGinnis contributed to this report.