With a generous blend of humor and pathos, P.S. Center Stage Players perform Brad Slaight’s “Middle Class,” an ensemble piece about teens navigating the treacherous waters of middle school.
Directed by Penny Lynn Siler, the show follows the tribulations of young teens in middle school, or what used to be known as junior high.
The ensemble cast, each of whom perform multiple roles, offer insight into the challenges young people face as the try to forge their own identity, form relationships, understand status, weather expectations and grapple with competitiveness.
The ensemble includes Isabella Selburg of Flat Rock; Sheldon Hall of Southgate; Zoe Cheff of Trenton; Emily Jacobs of Woodhaven; and Wyandotte residents Harmony Bedikian, Landon Petrowski, Addison Sauve and Rosemary Zehel.
Siler said the group usually rehearses a show for two to three months, but spent nine months preparing for this show.
“We never knew when or where we would be doing this show,” she said. “The kids were really troopers taking it on that way, as were their parents.”
Siler said rehearsing during a pandemic was different but worthwhile.
“I enjoyed teaching them, and learning from them,” she said. “Because this story is told through skits and monologues, they were able to work independently or with technology options.”
The group also met in Siler’s backyard last fall, which meant masks and socially distanced lawn chairs. She told them to stay home if they had any signs of illness, and to use the restroom before they came.
“Sometimes, it was more important to have a talk about mental wellness,” she said. “We played improv games, and shared what we were doing to fill the hours.”
Siler said cast members stayed away until they were cleared if they were exposed to COVID-19.
“At times, I felt the kids were quieter, less energetic, and more stressed emotionally than I have known them to be, pre-pandemic,” she said. “But they are a talented, fun and loving group, excited for ‘make believe’ onstage, and anxiously looking forward to the ‘real world’ and all it can be.”
Siler said she wanted to keep the teens connected to each other and to let them pursue their passion for theater.
“I wanted to offer these young actors an opportunity to continue doing something they enjoy, at a time when so much has disappeared from their lives,” she said. “I also wanted to offer them hope, and keep their spirits up.”
Siler said there was a bittersweet element in doing a show about school when being in a classroom is currently absent from the actors’ lives.
“Plus, knowing, through past shows, how much they have worked on honing their theatrical skills, I did feel it would help them continue to grow, as actors,” she said.
Jacobs said that while rehearsing during a pandemic was different and challenging, it was fun.
“We weren’t able to meet as many times as we would have liked, and we have to act like we are right next to each other, when in reality, we are six feet apart,” she said. “But it is awesome to be back on stage, seeing our friends again, and getting back to doing things we love.”
Jacobs said she hopes those who are ready to safely venture back into public will come see the show.
“We are beyond excited to provide a live show for the public,” she said. “We hope to see you there!”
The show runs at 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. May 15 at First United Methodist Church, 72 Oak St. in Wyandotte. Tickets are $5 cash, and are available at the door. Masks must be worn, and socially distancing will be observed.