Lindsey Saarie makes her debut as the new Friday Harbor High School and Middle School Drama Director with the upcoming play Sense and Sensibility, based off the Jane Austin classic. The production opens at the San Juan Community Theatre Jan. 19 and runs through the 21.
“Many of the students are familiar with it or Jane Austin’s other novel, Pride and Prejudice,” Saarie said, either through the movies or the books themselves.
Saarie moved to the island a few years ago, as COVID began to strike. She has been visiting the island since she was a child. Her parents had a cabin on San Juan, where she and her husband were married. The couple had dreamed about moving to the community for years. “The stars aligned when he got a job at the hospital, and I was able to work remotely,” Saarie explained.
She has been involved with theater since she was young, and was the drama teacher in Tacoma, prior to making the hop over to the San Juans. Saarie saw the posting for the job last year, but the timing wasn’t great, Saarie was expecting her second child.
When the job was posted again earlier this year, Saarire decided to go for it.
She chose “Sense and Sensibility” because themes in the story revolve around communication and the lack of communication.
The story follows the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne as they come of age.
After their father passes away, and his estate is passed to their half-brother John, the sisters, along with their widowed mother and younger sister Margaret rent a modest house on the property of a distant relative, Sir John Middleton. Elinor and Marianne experience love, romance, and heartbreak.
“I think social media and COVID have compounded communication issues in the modern world, so I wanted to emphasize the importance of face-to-face communication,” Saarie said.
The cast includes approximately 20 students, Shelby Mullin plays Elinor Dashwood; Fela Andrews plays Marianne Dashwood; Alison Power plays Margaret Dashwood; Kira Clark plays the mother, Mrs. Dashwood; Cody Balcomb-Bartok plays John Dashwood; Vincent Sanders plays Fanny Dashwood; Stephen Nicholson is Edward Ferrars; Owen Kreger-Stickles plays Col Brandon; Sidney Herda is Willoughby; Riley Bremer is Sir John Middleton; Megan Mellinger plays Mrs. Jennings; Rian McElrath plays Doctor/Lady Middleton; Lucy Marinkovich is Lucy Steele; Haley Rennick plays Anne Steele; Myles Posenjak plays Robert Ferrars; Lupita Soto plays Mrs. Ferrars and Kayla Lapapme plays servants and Thomas. There are also seven students working magic behind the sense, techies include Neil Gresseth, Andrew Rezabeck, Becca Bryan, Heidi Evered, Emily Jacobson, Noah and Oliver Oswald.
Not only has the cast been positive about the play, helped by the fact this adapted version is more fast-paced, but they have also stepped up as team players.
“One of the challenges has been absences, largely due to illnesses. The kids have really risen to the occasion and had a willingness to read an absent characters lines,” Saarie said. “They will step up and say ‘oh I know that blocking, let me do it.”
That collaborative spirit along with communication, confidence plus the array of themes of whatever play is being worked on, are some of the reasons Saarie feels theatre is important, and the artform has suffered the past few years.
“Theatre was one of the art forms that had to shut down during covid. Virtual productions just are not the same.”
The weekend of Jan. 13-14, Saarie and her predecessor Jenny Marrett, will be taking a troupe of theatre students to Olympia to compete.
“I think they will do well, and hopefully go on to State, but if not we will try again next year.
Besides continuing to participate in competitions, Saarie would love to expand the program including Spring Street and home-schooled students, and perhaps even have day classes. In the meantime,
“Come see it, come support the kids,” Saarie encouraged the community.