Former student, teacher reunite for stage production
"Sabrina Fair" is a story about a girl who reunites with some familiar faces after several years away. The plot sounds familiar to two cast members putting on the play this summer with the Bell Road Barn Players in Parkville, Mo.
Lansing High School language arts teacher Carla Scovill is directing "Sabrina Fair." At auditions for the play in May, Scovill said she was surprised to see a familiar face, one she had seen onstage more than 20 years ago.
The woman she recognized was Janet Henry. Scovill knew her as Janet Eustice, who graduated from Lansing High School in 1983 and now lives in Leavenworth.
Scovill said she knew Henry was acting locally, but she didn't expect her to audition for "Sabrina." Henry said she sought out her former teacher.
"I heard she was doing it, and I was hoping to work with her again," Henry said.
The last time the two had worked together was in 1983, when Henry played the female lead in "Butterflies are Free." Scovill said Henry's role was an energetic, free-spirited girl. Did that fit Henry's personality?
"Oh my gosh, yes!" Scovill said.
Henry said she loved the role and had fond memories of "Butterflies."
"We just had the best time," she said.
Scovill produced "Butterflies" at the high school in her third year of teaching. Henry said the people who put on the play formed a close-knit group and kept in touch for years after high school. She said that to Scovill, "we were like her babies" because it was Scovill's first big production at LHS.
"I think we all have this shared bond from this experience we shared together," she said.
Henry also remembered Scovill's impact on the drama department.
"She brought so much energy up there," Henry said.
The two reunited this year when Henry was cast for two roles in "Sabrina." Scovill said Henry made it on her own merit, not just because of their connection. During Henry's audition, Scovill said, the stage manager said she would be perfect for the role of Gretchen, one character's ex-wife who is described as "a dish" in the screenplay.
"I was excited someone else saw that in her," Scovill said.
They also tapped Henry for the role of Margaret, a maid "with a little attitude," Henry said. Scovill said the role of Margaret could be played by someone of any age but that Henry had chosen to make her roles totally different, so she is playing Margaret as an old woman. Scovill said Henry did such a good job differentiating the roles that she and Henry made up a fake name and bio for the program so that no one would know it was the same actress. For the role of Gretchen, Henry is listed as Page Turner, who spends her free time teaching knitting at the Y and answering the PBS telephone hotline.
Henry said working with Scovill again brought up fond memories.
"She'll say just one word to me and I'm transported back to high school - not in a bad way," she said. "You feel like this person really, really knows you, even though she hasn't seen you in 20 years."
Scovill also said she was enjoying working with Henry.
"It's so fun to catch up," she said. "It's so fun to work with someone who's willing to go out on a limb and be enthusiastic."
Scovill said she had never worked with a former student before, but she said her experience with Henry wasn't much different than it was 22 years ago.
"To me, she hasn't changed," Scovill said. "She's still effervescent and enthusiastic about everything, just like she was in high school."