Henley drama students to perform ‘The Giver’

Performances are Feb. 26-29 at the school’s Hampton Center for Performing Arts

The Henley High School Drama Club is offering four evening performances this week of a stage adaptation of Lois Lowry’s dystopian novel “The Giver.”

Opening night is Wednesday, Feb. 26, and performances continue Thursday, Feb. 27; Friday, Feb. 28; and Saturday, Feb. 29 in the school’s Hampton Center for the Performing Arts. All shows start at 7 p.m. Cost is $5 for students and seniors, and $7 for adults. Tickets may be purchased in advance at Henley High’s main office. They also will be available at the door.

The two-act play follows Jonas, a young boy living in a community of “sameness.” At the age of 12, Jonas is selected to serve as the community’s Receiver of Memory, a mysterious role that he later learns is responsible for holding the memories of humanity. His new role initially intrigues him, but he soon realizes that his knowledge of a world beyond “sameness” will leave him discontented with life in his community. The play follows Jonas’ journey and will remind viewers of what it means to be human, said Henley drama club advisor and English teacher Erin Haney, who with Falcon Heights teacher Alex Stork, is directing the performance.

Henley seniors Victor Manzo and Nicole Cleland play the lead roles as the Receiver of Memory and The Giver.

“I really wanted to close out on a strong, moving, powerful drama that would really touch the audience and make them think,” said Manzo, who with his classmates will be performing the last play of his high school career. He hopes to pursue acting and drama at Southern Oregon University next fall.

He first read “The Giver” in the fifth-grade, but reread the novel after landing the lead role. “Honestly, I can safely say it’s the most challenging character I’ve had,” Manzo said. “There are so many nuances. It’s really rewarding to find those sides of Jonas, and it makes me explore those sides of myself as well.”

Cast members include Victor Manzo as Jonas; Nicole Cleland as The Giver; Aria Sha as Rosemary; CJ Banda as Chief Elder; Marissa Gerney as Announcer; Trevor Simpson as Father; Estrella Murillo as Mother; Vienna Larson as Lily; Kira Driscoll as Fiona; Slade Villanueva as Asher; and Emma Derra, Sebastian Fuller and Megan Ormsbee as extras.

Members of the production crew include Esme Murrillo, cast/stage manager; Megan Ormsbee, house manager; Ryian Vincent, Alexis Johnson, Juan Manzo and Nate Tappan, stage hands; Morgan Purviance, Dazen Bland and Rodrigo Cruz Ascenio, lights and sounds; and Jazmyn Green and Ryanne Dixon, hair and makeup.