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Once in a LIfetime - Oakton High School - Vienna, Virginia - November 11, 2016

Emma Rood

Herndon High School

Grab a Variety Magazine and crack open some Indian Nuts, because Oakton High School’s production of “Once in a Lifetime” will take you back to the good old days of 1930’s Hollywood. “Once in a Lifetime” charms audiences today just as it did in 1930, when it opened in the Music Box Theatre on Broadway as a play written by the duo Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman. Moss and Kaufman went on to write many more well-known shows together, but “Once in a Lifetime” was seen as their big break, going on to play for 406 performances when on Broadway.

The story follows a failing vaudeville act consisting of Jerry Hyland, May Daniels, and George Lewis on their journey to success in the movie industry right at the start of the “talking picture” era. Jerry independently sells the act, forcing the three of them to move West for better opportunities, where they get help from popular gossip columnist Helen Hobart to start an elocution school where actors can learn how to speak. As they make friends and enemies in the big industry of Hollywood, our three heroes fall in love, lose jobs, make movies, and eat Indian Nuts; lots and lots of Indian Nuts.

Anna Goodin positively shone in the role of the fearless heroine May Daniels, infusing the character with spunk and fire that defined and created a unique personality that was eye catching and mesmerizing. Alongside Goodin was Rob Warrick as Jerry Hyland who, playing the “straight man”, was strong yet sleazy with his Hollywood businessman attitude. The relationship between the two characters was very realistic and mature, which gave the show a cutting edge to the show and reality. An audience favorite was Hunter Carrico as George Lewis, loveable yet not the brightest. Carrico’s comedic timing was golden, but what was impressive was the fact that he wasn’t all funny; George’s character had emotion and grew throughout the show instead of just being there for the laughs. Other characters added color through the show in small details, and made even a slight walk-on a funny little bit. The supporting actors and ensemble were focused and dedicated to their characters, having strong personalities and character choices that kept the audience interested and delighted.

The show used the Hollywood theme in tech too; during set changes, the set transformed into a Hollywood movie location. Changes were smooth and precise and the set was vivid and interesting to look at. Costumes were also beautiful, as they were very realistic for the period. Adding a lot to the show were the props--be it a movie camera or Indian Nuts, it added flair.

Oakton High School’s production of “Once in a Lifetime” is a unique and delightful show, giving a glimpse into the grittiness of the Hollywood scene. Freshly amusing and sometimes strikingly powerful, the young actors dug into their characters and techs brought out the best elements to make this show something one will only truly see once in a lifetime.

Sierra Carrillo

South Lakes High School

The stage lights of New York to Hollywood were shining bright on Oakton High School’s production of “Once in a Lifetime.” This fast-paced and hilarious play captures the fame-driven era of vaudeville and talking pictures. From the radiant characters to the elaborate props, this show exudes enthusiasm.

Written in 1929 by the newly formed team of Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, this snapshot of the fame as Hollywood rolled into the 1930s continues to delight audiences today. The plot follows a failed vaudeville act featuring the trio of May Daniels, George Lewis and Jerry Hyland, played in this production by Anna Goodin, Hunter Carrico and Rob Warrick, respectively. At the advent of talking pictures, the trio packs its bags and sets off for Hollywood to make their fortunes – by any means necessary. Fast-talking their way into positions at the film studio, the trio jumps right into the world of glitz and glamor.

Capturing the era beautifully, Oakton High School’s production sparkled with vibrant sets, authentic costumes and elaborate props. By seamlessly transitioning the scenes as if the audience was on a movie set, the stage crew succeeded in bringing old Hollywood to life. Complementing the detailed set, costumes fitted for the glamorous 20s and 30s graced both the male and female characters, transporting the audience once again. Also notable, the wide array of props used throughout the show stretching from real stage lights to Lewis’ never ending Indian nuts.

Hunter Carrico shined bright, bringing a childish exuberance to the comical role of George Lewis through his subtle mannerisms and spot on physicality. Carrico uplifted the show with his impeccable comic timing and his range of innocent to passionate monologues. May Daniels, portrayed by Anna Goodin, kept Lewis grounded in their sibling-like relationship. Goodin demanded focus with strong character development and graceful stage presence. The last part of the trio Jerry Hyland, presented by Rob Warrick, slipped into the Hollywood lifestyle and convincingly embodied the dream of fame.

Highly enjoyable performances included those of Herman Glogauer, Lawrence Vail, and Susan Walker, played by Joe Walker, Max Torti, and Emma Macaluso. Walker provided a strong and passionate performance while persuasively portraying an intimidating businessman with Hollywood swagger; Torti displayed the impressive range of his character from an exasperated madman to a happy and accepting spectator; and Macaluso encapsulated the innocent, star-struck ingénue focused on her dreams of making it in the big city.

From Indian nuts to Hollywood premieres, Oakton High School presented a charming and delightful journey through fame, love, loss and unexpected twists and turns that left the audience feeling at home in Hollywood.


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