When the Lake Highlands Theatre production of The Children’s Hour opens this Thursday night, don’t expect your typical high school play. These experienced Thespians are anything but amateur.

The play is based on an actual court case in 1810, and explores the effect on a small town in Scotland when an angry young student tells a lie about her teachers, damaging their reputations.

Senior Carly Kaplan, who plays Martha, says the role is a personal departure. “It’s been really different for me because I am normally cast as a humorous character, and this one is very serious.” Carly played Eulalie Shinn in The Music Man, Cogsworth The Clock in Beauty and the Beast and had roles in The Miracle Worker, Over the River, and Les Miserable. “I’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of great parts,” she told me. “This will be my last play, and I want to go out with a bang.” (You can check out the video Carly made for Ronald McDonald house here.)

Senior Delaney Sullivan is cast in a leading role as Karen (and shown in the promo poster above with Carly), and senior Jake Gaba, who played Feste the Clown at Shakespeare in the Park this Summer, plays Joseph Cardin. Senior Andrea Beard shares the role of Mary with newcomer and freshman Micael Lonergan.

Junior Doug Keffer, who’s been seen on the LHHS stage as Mayor Shinn in The Music Man and Bamatabois in Les Mis, among other roles, and as the title character in The Mikado for Garland Civic Theatre, is enjoying serving as Assistant Director this time. “I’ve been given an opportunity to see the complexities of taking chances and trusting your director from the opposite end,” he said. “This experience will definitely alter the way I act and respond to direction for future shows.”

Doug says the lessons he’s learned from his theater experience will prepare him for college and life. “Acting forces you to be engaged, disciplined and punctual. I’ve learned to focus on minute details during a scene and while analyzing scripts, which inevitably helps me in the classroom.” Most important, he says, have been the lessons about “how to work together with other people effectively and maturely with as little conflict as possible.”

“Being onstage allows me to put myself in someone else’s shoes,” added junior Isabel Pask, who plays Mrs. Tilford. “The lights come up on the stage, and for a couple of hours you get to become a different person that may be completely opposite from yourself. I believe there is no greater exhilaration, and no better way to gain understanding about people around you.”

“My favorite thing about The Children’s Hour is the fact that we don’t really have any gimmicky special effects or scenes,” Jake told me. “It is pure acting.”

The curtain goes up at 7 pm this Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, and an additional Saturday matinee will be shown at 2 pm. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and are available at the door or by emailing theater mom Brenda Gaba here. Break a leg, guys!