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Best written reviews for “Growing Up” performed by Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. Reviewed on April 10, 2021.

This performance may be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-z9R7Yb3cHc  


Dagny Scannell

Bishop Ireton High School


What happens after high school ends? This question sneaks its way into the back of every student's mind, especially once they realize they are months away from transitioning into their adult lives. Graduation prompts a desire to pursue potential career paths, mend friendships, and maybe even forge new ones. "Growing Up," a compilation of scenes and monologues performed by students from Wakefield High School, addressed these feelings and explored the excitement and fear teenagers feel as they move on to the next phase of their lives. This sentimental and brilliantly crafted piece explored various relationships of graduating seniors, all of whom realized that it's time to say goodbye.


Each scene in "Growing Up" had a different student author and many actors performed scenes that they wrote themselves. This provided for deeply authentic reflections on issues that the performers truly understood. Much of this production's success was owed to student director Melena Meek and script supervisors Tamzin Folz and Isa Paley. This trio brought their vision to life by organizing individual scenes into a cohesive show and highlighting meaningful themes that persisted throughout the show. Beginning and ending with the school's graduation speaker, they pieced together vulnerable confessions, fiery confrontations, and nostalgic musings to create a show that resonated with every high schooler in the audience.


Many strong performances illustrated the struggle of holding onto childhood experiences while attempting to face the future. Actors like Melena Meek and Jonathan Stewart both gave touching performances on what it means to say goodbye to friends, family, and the fairy tales dreamt up by their past selves. Katerina Larrick perfectly expressed the negative aspects of choosing an unconventional career path, and the fight between actors Isa Paley and Tamzin Folz showed that some conflicts may always remain unresolved. Despite their differing perspectives, these unique scenes flowed together beautifully, and each actor gave moving and believable performances.


The technical elements of "Growing Up" also added to the overall sentimental effect. The costumes were simple, but they perfectly captured the look of high school seniors ready to grow up and become adults. Each actor recorded from their bedrooms, and it was easy to keep track of the different settings and relationships between characters. Even with the playwright changing from scene to scene, the writing was consistent, and the quality was superb.


Wakefield High School's production "Growing Up" perfectly encapsulated the feelings of uncertainty and freedom that often accompany high school graduation. The actors were all committed to their roles and created a moving story, embracing the digital format. The end of high school is inevitable, but these performers showed that there is a beauty in change that can only be revealed once they all say goodbye.

Sean Gillen

Oakton High School


"Tell the story you know." It is an age-old adage, imparted to and from writers time and time again throughout history for its proven effectiveness. Stories familiar to their authors have a unique level of authenticity, depth, and composure. The Wakefield High School Theatre Department sought to use this idea to create an enthralling production, resulting in their most recent endeavor – "Growing Up." A coming-of-age drama written by the members of the cast, the show was brimming with pertinent ideals and conflicts all too real to high school students. Passionate and engaging, Growing Up served as a revitalized look at the trials and trepidation associated with being a teenager.


The show owed the successful development of its serious themes and stories in large part to the dramatic prowess demonstrated by the cast as a whole. A scene exemplary of this is "The Lunch Box Club," which saw a group of childhood friends reunited amid the current global pandemic. Tensions surfaced and conflicts arose, both of which were subtly and powerfully conveyed to the audience by the cast over the course of the scene. The four friends, Avery, Emerson, Journey, and Charlie, played by Isa Paley, Ryan Peterson, Melena Meek, and Katerina Larrick, respectively, continued their own individual trajectory as the scene unfolded. Paley, Peterson, Meek, and Larrick powerfully portrayed the stark contrast between each of their characters, and their impassioned performances coalesced to comprise one of the show's many highlights.


The technical components of the show were just as professional. Smooth editing and apt sound design helped the production flow seamlessly, which in turn enabled it to maintain its poignant tone. Director Melena Meek, along with script supervisors Tamzin Folz and Isa Paley, deserve credit for their coordinated efforts behind the scenes. Wakefield's technical department proved its expertise with impressive dexterity and further demonstrated the cast's proficiency in all aspects of theatre. 


Assertive, articulate, and heart-wrenchingly real, Wakefield High School's "Growing Up" is an enriching treatise on the beautifully tragic growing pains that compose adolescence.


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