The impossible dream

High school puts on complex musical production


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Emily Wood, who plays the part of Aldonza in Chugiah High School’s “Man of La Mancha,” sings a beautiful and powerful rendition of, “The Impossible Dream.”

CINTHIA RITCHIE

It’s a dream within a dream, a musical within a play, a sweeping epic within one beautiful and perfect song.

And the finale, with all the actors’ voices blending together in a rendition of “The Impossible Dream,” very well might bring a few tears to your eyes.

Chugiak High School’s production of “Man of La Mancha” blends humor with large life questions, such as: What is art and where does one draw the line between art and reality, dreams and real life, passion and defeat?

According to CHS teacher and drama coach Marty Decker, the play is a complex work that demands a subtle balance between dream and real-life segments.

But he’s not worried.

“It’s going to be great,” he said, scurrying around during a recent rehearsal. “I mean, where else do you find a 6’ 5” kid who can sing like an angel?”

That “angel” is none other than Elijah Temple, who plays the male lead of Don Quixote.

Temple, no stranger to the stage, has experience in everything from theater to movies; he played the lead in last year’s local film “Railway to Hope.”

He also played the role of Mr. Darcy in Alaska Theatre of Youth’s production of “Pride and Prejudice.”

“I’m a big Jane Austen fan,” he said with a laugh.

Temple began acting in sixth grade, when he and a friend started making YouTube videos.

“They were bad at first, but then they got better,” he said.

Before long they entered short works in film festivals.

“Acting feels natural,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a hiding place but a place of peace. You get to escape life for a little bit.”

Temple is also a self-taught opera singer.

“Everyone in my family sings,” he said.

What intrigues him the most about his role as Don Quixote is the opportunity to play a character within a character.

“I want the audience to question what part of life they should take,” he said. “I want them to look out at their life and find good where there is none or see life as it is.”

CHS junior Emily Wood plays the female lead as Aldonza, bringing a grace to the role, along with a surprising strength, evidenced by the power of her voice as it rises up, quiet at first and then gaining in emotion.

This is only Wood’s second musical, and she didn’t expect to get the lead.

“I thought I was just going to get an ensemble part,” she said.

Yet the role complements her character.

“I feel it offers a nice contrast, and the angry personality is one I can play well,” she said.

It is, she said, a lot of fun, though the songs were difficult to learn since they were in what she called “weird time signatures.”

“But once you get them down, the lines flow,” she said. “I try and put my own emotions in my work.”

Supporting cast for Chugiak High School’s production of “Man of La Mancha” includes Trevor Spackman, Jesse Peters, Kornelis Van Weel and Amelia Morse. The set was designed by Allie High and constructed by Frank Hardy.

The Man of La Mancha plays at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Feb. 28-March 8. Tickets are $12 adults, $7 students at the door.

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