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Vienna Theatre Company Presents Willy Wonka

H-B Woodlawn High School As Bees in Honey Drown

By • Apr 22nd, 2008 • Category: Cappies

Who doesn’t want money and fame, at least in theory? For the almost-famous wanting to get rid of the “almost,” it would be easy to fall under the spell of a wealthy producer offering that chance. Such was the concept driving H-B Woodlawn’s excellent performance of As Bees in Honey Drown.

Written by Douglas Carter, the show opened at the New York City Drama Department in 1997. Four weeks later it moved to the Lucille Lortel Theater, where it ran for one year and won the Outer Critics Circle award for playwriting and was nominated for the Drama Desk best play.

Eric Wollenstein (penname Evan Wyler), an up-and-coming novelist, is taken in by Alexa Vere De Vere, a glamorous, exciting woman who wants Evan to write the screenplay for a movie about her life. Offering money and fame, Alexa manipulates him into using his credit card to pay for her extravagances while telling outrageous stories about her many adventures. On the eve of their departure to LA for a meeting with studio executives, Alexa disappears.

Upon finding her former friend Mike, Evan learns that her real name is Brenda, and that Alexa’s persona was created to attract people to an art show to sell Mike’s paintings when the two were young, poor artists. When Mike spurned her advances, she left and never spoke to him again, instead using her new identity to steal thousands of dollars from struggling, almost-famous artists. Determined to get revenge, Evan contacts hundreds of Alexa’s victims to confront her.

Woodlawn’s production, directed by senior Sabrina Zeile, made excellent use of the school’s Black Box theater. The cast was strong and clearly dedicated to their multiple roles, effortlessly moving between comedy and drama.

The six-person cast demonstrated an impressive versatility, with four supporting actors playing twenty different roles. As Evan, Tyson Price was endearingly awkward. Miranda Webster was superb as Alexa, flawlessly showing the transition from idealistic writer Brenda to alluring, manipulative Alexa. Graham Hooper stood out among the supporting performers, switching faultlessly from an effeminate salesclerk at Saks to a coke-sniffing British rocker to the sweet but hurt painter, Mike. The other actors, Jack Crawford-Brown, Montana Debor, and Caroline Brent, displayed similar skill, transitioning skillfully between multiple characters.

The set, designed by Connor Tepel, was minimal but creative, allowing for quick scene changes to keep the show running smoothly. The lights, run by Michael Gibbs, were excellent at setting the tone of the show.

As Bees in Honey Drown is both funny and sad, providing a commentary on the pitfalls of fame and wealth while keeping a sense of humor. H-B Woodlawn did an excellent job of balancing these two aspects, delivering an entertaining and satisfying performance with an agility rarely found in high school theater.

by Athena Hughes of Woodrow Wilson

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is a program which was founded in 1999, for the purpose of celebrating high school theater arts and providing a learning opportunity for theater and journalism students. You can learn more at cappies.com.

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