HHS Rising Stars

HHS Rising Stars

New Teacher, Same Elite Productions

Amanda Moore has been a theater kid since she was six years old. “My mom said that I could do one activity after school and I chose drama,” said Amanda. “I don’t know where I got the idea from, but I immediately began doing children’s theater. Then when I was old enough, I worked at summer camps and would assist on the shows when I was a teenager.” When it was time for college, it was no surprise that Amanda chose to earn her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theater with the goal of one day making it on Broadway. After school she moved to New York and began auditioning, which lasted for a few years. “It was hard, but I’m so grateful I did it. That’s how I met my husband. He was doing the same thing. We moved back to Brentwood because his family was here.” At that point, Amanda made the decision to stop her pursuit of the stage and switch to theater education. She worked for the Bay Area Children’s Theater running their education department and then shifted to the Children’s Musical Theater in San Jose as their education director. Last year, the opportunity to stay local and take over the position as the Theater teacher at Heritage High School became available, and Amanda jumped at the chance to cut her commute and reach the kids more directly.
 

The full-time position that Amanda accepted from the Liberty Union High School District was the Theater teacher; however, along with that responsibility came the job of running the after-school theater program, Rising Stars. During school hours Amanda teaches Theater 1, 2, 3, and 4. “Theater 1 is what a lot of freshmen take as an elective,” said Amanda. “Theater 2 is for the kids that show an interest and want to move on. Theater 3 is advanced, and Theater 4 is called Actor/Director and gives the students more creative freedom to work on what they’re interested in, which is really cool.” Rising Stars is a completely separate drama club that puts on its own shows twice a year, but there is an overlap of higher-level theater students participating in Rising Stars as well. “Rising Stars is already so robust and has a history of putting on really good shows. I was excited to take it over.”
             
Heritage High School’s Rising Stars puts on two big performances each school year: one in the fall and one in the spring. The spring show is always a musical, and the fall is typically a play with a musical element. Last fall they did Into the Woods, and this spring they performed Legally Blonde, which earned them a nomination for the Rita Moreno High School Musical Theater Awards. “To be nominated at all in our first year is a huge honor, let alone in three out of the four categories!” Kaleigha Sioson was nominated for Best Actress and Ashleigh Stone was nominated for Supporting Performer. Legally Blonde was nominated for Best Overall Production, an honor given to only six of the 41 high school musicals submitted from all over Northern California. “We will now perform a seven-minute medley from our show at the Rita Moreno Awards in San Jose on May 13, and the winner will be chosen from there. It’s an incredible honor that’s well deserved by our hardworking cast and crew!” The production had a cast of 42 students, the crew that ran the show had around 30 students, and then an additional 30 kids helped build and paint the set, as well as create the costumes. “I could not be prouder and more excited for my students to have their work acknowledged at this level.”
 
 
Even after such a huge success, the show must go on. “In my role, the preparation never stops,” said Amanda. “We’re always in the middle of one thing and planning for the next, but if you take a snapshot of the schedule for one of the shows, it would be about eight weeks of rehearsal and then two weekends of performances.” The community is always invited to purchase tickets to support and enjoy the performances. This fall Rising Stars will be performing Peter and the Starcatcher, which is a prequel to Peter Pan. “It’s one of my personal favorites. Those who are pretty involved in the theater community will probably be familiar. It’s a play with songs, not a musical, so that actors can shine just as much as those who like to sing.”
 
 
When asked about future goals for the Rising Stars program, Amanda has a difficult time topping the already existing success. “It’s already thriving and so successful; it’s hard to find the time to envision beyond simply maintaining it as the incredible program it has been the last few years,” said Amanda. “I think the short-term goal is to make sure that the heart and reputation of Rising Stars stays the same, even with a new person running it. I also want to make sure the students feel like they’re achieving the artistic excellence that they want to and to do it in a welcoming, supportive, safe environment.” Beyond that, Amanda’s dream is to find a way to incorporate the elementary and middle school students, bringing them on a field trip to see a sneak peek of a production. “Adams Middle School already walks down to see a preview of our spring musical, but I’m hoping to create something where my students are performing with the intention of it being a way to expose the younger kids to theater.”
             
The community is always invited and encouraged to support the Rising Stars students by filling the seats at their spring and fall performances. They are also invited to attend Broadway Night on April 27 at 7:00 p.m., as well as the Theater 2, 3, and 4 students’ showcase where they will be performing scenes on May 14 and 15. “Keep an eye out for our 2025 spring musical, which we will be announcing soon!”
 

By: Michelle Lassle   Photos by: Sara Nicole Mindful Photography

 

IG: hhsrisingstars
Website: HHS Rising Stars
Address: 101 American Avenue, Brentwood, CA 94513

 

 

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