For those who enjoy dark comedy, meta dialogue in shows and, of course, the time-old theater tradition of mocking the French, Newport High School Theater has a new offering to scratch all of those itches.
Directed by Jody Hanna, “Game of Tiaras” is a mixture of three main sources of inspiration: “Game of Thrones,” Shakespeare’s “King Lear” and Disney princesses. The ease with which the Newport students have made these topics feel easily integrated into one show results in shock and comedy.
The show is billed as “a bloody, bloody tragic comedy,” wherein the aging king of a Magical Kingdom, also known as England, decides to split his empire between his three daughters: Cinderella, Belle and the Snow Queen, Ellie — who in no way resembles a copyrighted character, the show claims.
With satire and social commentary revolving around plot tropes as well as the reality of the middle ages, the show carries a lot of humor while still keeping true to its violent roots.
“High school kids love dark comedy,” said Hanna. “Because of that, they are so invested in the humor, and I think that the dark humor that exists in this show appeals to a broad range of people — everyone will think it’s funny.”
Hanna explained that the students have brought the show to life over the past few months of rehearsal.
“I love high school theater,” said Hanna, “because I love how I have people on the stage in this show who have never been on stage before — and kids who have asked, ‘no, don’t give me any lines,’ — and watch them grow and blossom … watching the progress, I think, is really exciting.”
Another major contribution is the barrage of suggestions that the students have brought to her, wanting to make character choices to enhance or change the scene’s tone and comedy.
“And lots of times I let them,” said Hanna, “because I feel like high school theater is a really great place for them to experiment and to find things that work for them, and I feel like it’s a really safe space … they can experiment with accents or, you know, just things that are different, and they don’t have to feel afraid to do that. It’s a smaller environment.”
That same environment needs encouragement to flourish, which is where the community comes in — whether they know someone in the show or not.
“I think it’s really important for kids to feel like they’re supported by the community, and to feel like the community cares about what they’re doing,” said Hanna, adding, “For a lot of these kids, this high school experience may be the only time in their lives that they appear on stage, and so I think the feedback from the community is really important.”
But the theater also gives back to its patrons, in entertainment and widened world views. For Hanna, who often attends productions at other high schools for her own enjoyment, she says that there’s “a magic all its own that belongs to the high school theater.”
Hanna added, “I also think there’s something, as an audience member, when you come and see high school theater that’s really special because it’s a different environment. You get to really experience that magic of the creativity of the high school kids themselves, and I think that’s a really unique thing.”
The show opens at 7 p.m. today (Friday) in the Newport High School Theatre, located adjacent to the multi-purpose room on the east campus. The production also runs on Saturday, April 13, as well as April 18-20, all at 7 p.m. Tickets are available for purchase from cast members and at the door: students and children are $5, adults are $8.