Theater-lovers are in for a treat during weekends in March as Lake Highlands High School junior Isabel Pask stars in the Garland Civic Theatre production of Agatha Christie’s Love from a Stranger. She plays the beautiful Cecily Harrington, who abandons wedding plans to her fiancé, Nigel, to run away with attractive and mysterious Bruce Lovell.

“GCT differs from LHHS in many ways,” Isabel told me, “primarily it’s unfamiliarity to me. I’m no longer surrounded by my best friends and the stage that I’ve come to know by heart, but by something new.”

Isabel has shone in LHHS’ Putnam County Spelling Bee, The Children’s Hour, Beauty and the Beast, The Miracle Worker and several others.

“Working on GCT productions is more rigorous, the hours are longer, the nights later, and the technical aspects more intricate, but the end product is the same; something that I love and can be proud of.”

“The best part is pushing myself and being challenged every single day and just getting to enjoy that ‘theatre magic’ of a show – meeting new people, the costumes, the set, the lights, the story.”

“I am learning so incredibly much: how difficult and challenging theatre in the ‘real world’ can be and how to deal with it on a professional basis. I am also learning so many new skills and wonderful tricks while I gain more and more experience. The director, Kyle McClaran, really is an amazing teacher and has definitely been around the block, so I’ve learned a lot from him.”

Isabel admits it isn’t easy to handle both her rehearsal schedule and her schoolwork. “It’s hard to feel motivated to do homework when you get home at midnight from a 5 hour rehearsal or to balance friendships after a 12 hour Saturday rehearsal.” Parents Neil and Annalisa, though, have made their positions clear. “School comes before theatre in my house.”

Still, says Isabel, the experience has been worth it. “I’m learning more and more how much I love theatre. I really wanted to do the production because, even though I knew it would be challenging, it would prepare me for what lies out there, theatre-wise, in college and beyond. I needed to know if this was really something I wanted to devote myself to, and I’ve definitely found out it is.”

Love from a Stranger opens tomorrow night at the Patty Granville Arts Center in Garland. The show runs from March 1-24 and tickets range from $13 to $22, depending on when you go. You can more information from the GCT website here.