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South Valley Journal

Riverton High debuts Marvel play for Disney

Aug 29, 2019 11:54AM ● By Jet Burnham

The small cast has fun during rehearsals, which began in early August. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

Riverton High School theater students are marveling at their opportunity to help develop a Disney Marvel production.

“Disney theatricals reached out to us in the spring, asking us if we would be interested in piloting what they called a secret project at the time,” said Clin Eaton, theater teacher at RHS.

Disney Theatricals has been developing a series of one-act plays featuring teenaged characters from the Marvel Universe facing some of the everyday challenges of today’s youth. Riverton was chosen to debut “Squirrel Girl Goes to College,” a play about the challenges a superhero faces as she tries to fit in at college.

“Squirrel Girl—she's kind of lesser known, but she's really fun and really positive,” said junior Alyssa Buckner, who plays the lead role.

“The comedy is very, very fun,” Eaton said. “It’s very light-hearted, and it's going to be a lot of fun for the audience.”

Rehearsals began before the beginning of the school year and had to be fit around preparations for the fall musical and annual Shakespearean Festival Competition. But Riverton theater students were eager as beavers—or rather squirrels—for the chance to be involved in piloting the play.

“I have read probably over 200 comics,” said Marvel fan Anson Bagley. “It's super-fun playing Modoc because I've already seen him in the animations, and I've read the comics about him, so I kind of understood the character going into the auditions.”

Fans of Marvel comics will recognize some characters in the show, but there are also many new characters that will be seen for the first time.

“It's fun to get to play around with this character that no one has really done before,” said senior Annabelle Durham. “You can really make it yours and really figure out what you are capable of without looking at other people's examples.”

Initially, Eaton was concerned with what directing a Marvel play would require.

“My biggest fear was that we’d need to copy what's done in the movies, which are billion-dollar properties with unlimited CGI,” said Eaton. But he found the play is written to be easily performed in a school auditorium or cafeteria.

“There aren't super big sets or big costumes or anything like that,” said Buckner. “It’s just us working together to create this piece of theater.”

“It definitely feels a lot more collaborative than a lot of plays,” said Bagley. “For most plays, you have a huge cast, and so you just really need to hammer through and get everyone standing in the right place. But this one—a lot of the squirrel chorus is making their own choices and seeing what works with the scene.”

Eaton and the cast will be providing feedback to Disney about their experience with the play before it is finalized and released for licensing.

“They're going to be great properties for schools looking to have a big cast for a play,” said Eaton. “You could choose a couple of these plays and put them on and be really successful because they have the Marvel name attached.”

Riverton High School and Hillcrest High School are the only Utah schools that were selected to participate in the piloting process for the series of plays which have been created specifically for middle school and high school theater students.

“Squirrel Girl Goes to College” and another Marvel one-act play will be performed at Riverton High School on Sept. 13 and 16 at 7 p.m. All tickets are $6.