Theater students overcome obstacles, enthrall audiences with Shakespeare play


Lilly Gorman

Coppell High School sophomore Sydney de Leon performs in Karen Ruth’s Broadway Bound class’ annual play on Feb. 2 in Coppell High School’s cafeteria. De Leon played one of the three narrators in “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)” which had two shows on Feb 1st and 2nd.

Shravya Mahesh, Staff Writer

One minute guests are chattering away, snacking on $1 concessions, and the next, the lights go down and an audible hush falls over the audience. At once, a spell is cast over the eager viewers.


The Broadway Bound class’s play in the Coppell High School commons is about to start.


The play,“The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)”, took on the “unprecedented feat” of performing all 37 of English playwright William Shakespeare’s plays less than two hours. The three narrators (CHS sophomores Bella Null, Sydney de León and Xander Davila) explained each of his works, flowing from one show to another as easily as possible.


While it started with traditional acting with the famed “Romeo and Juliet”, the show quickly turned to a more diverse variety of presentation, including “Othello” in rap, “King Henry” as a football game and some of the lesser-known plays accompanied with interpretive dance. The entire second act was reserved for “Hamlet”, which was performed repeatedly, sometimes backwards or in double the speed.  


Shakespeare’s plays feature old English, so at times, the actors humorously rephrased the lines or admitted they did not understand the verbiage. That, along with modern connections such as jokes about Google, iPhones and “Grey’s Anatomy”, emitted raucous laughter from the audience.


One of the unique aspects of the show was the actors’ relationship with the viewers. Unlike a conventional play, wherein the guests simply sit back and watch the show, the narrators and characters actively interacted with the audience, breaking the fourth wall. This became especially apparent during “Hamlet”, where audience members were asked to act like Ophelia’s id, ego, superego and unconscious in a comical cacophony of dialogue.

Lilly Gorman
Coppell High School sophomores Juliana Thompson, Isabella Zeff and Abby Smith perform in Karen Ruth’s Broadway Bound class’ annual play on Feb. 2 in Coppell High School’s cafeteria. Zeff, Thompson and Smith all played roles during the Hamlet section in “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)” which had two shows on Feb 1st and 2nd.

In the end, the audiences applauded fervently as the cast bowed.


“It was really funny,” parent Ed Enriquez said. “We really enjoyed it.”


However, there is much more to the show than meets the eye. Behind the dedicated performances and glowing smiles lie many challenges the students and theater director Karen Ruth had to overcome.


For one, the show had to be pushed back a month. Initially planned for March 1-2, a schedule conflict with First United Methodist Church of Coppell’s musical “The Beauty and the Beast” (in which many students are participating as well) forced the Broadway Bound class to push their show up a month.


“Normally, for a show like this, we would probably work on it at least another two to three weeks, but we didn’t get that time,” Ruth said. “Tough, but they knew the time constraint, they knew what was going on and they still crushed it.”


Additionally, the venue posed a bit of a problem. The Broadway Bound class meets during third period, but since that is lunch period, the students were unable to rehearse in the commons until the week before. The students had to practice in the classroom, then translate onto the stage later on when it was available.


“It’s been kind of a different situation, but they put in six weeks of really hard work,” Ruth said.


In terms of technicalities, a broken soundboard left the students without a means of playing sound effects and music professionally. Instead, the class quickly resolved to use YouTube, finding all their clips online.


“We’ve had problems in the past of videos suddenly buffering,” CHS junior sound operator Rachel Beamer said. “So I [was] worried that that [would] happen. I [was] also a little worried about ads.”


Yet the students overcame the obstacles, putting on a successful show the audience thoroughly enjoyed.


“I want more people [to] watch,” audience parent Kathy Park said. “I will be back tomorrow with my daughter.”