The Port Arthur News
Boredom is one of the most common ailments suffered by a high school student out for the summer.
“The school has the weight room open for the athletes,” said Renee Kloes, who teaches music at Nederland High School. “But we wanted something for the students who are not so athletically inclined.”
Four years ago, Kloes found it — the Steve Barton Musical Theatre Project. Named for the late Steve Barton, a Nederland native whose Broadway resume included leading roles in “West Side Story,” “Romeo and Juliet” and “Evita,” the project gives Nederland High School students an opportunity to prepare and perform a Broadway musical in a three-week span, under the guidance of a Nederland High School alum who has had success in the professional arena.
This year’s production is “Once Upon a Mattress,” a fragmented retelling of the classic fairy tale “The Princess and the Pea,” which will be presented June 28-29 at 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center at Nederland High School, 2101 18th Street. Tickets are available at the door for $5.
This year’s mentor is Lane Orta, a 2010 graduate of Nederland High School who is currently studying vocal performance at DePaul University in Chicago. He returned to his old stomping grounds at the request of Kloes, his high school choir teacher.
“She’s done so much for me,” Orta said. “It was only right to step in.”
Orta said he is excited to share his talents with his fellow cast members.
“I found myself bringing in things I know,” he said. “Seeing all the younger students getting to show off their talents is really rewarding.”
Ryan Sherer, a four-year participant of the program who the play’s protagonist, Prince Dauntless, said this year’s production is very different from the past.
“It’s nothing like we’ve ever done before,” said Sherer, a 17-year-old senior at Nederland High School. “Normally we have a much larger set. This year we’re doing this to the best of our ability to maintain a low-budget production, yet make it fun for everybody involved.”
The cast has achieved that, Sherer said.
“It’s very family friendly,” he said. “There’s no references to anything bad. It’s just all-around fun.”