A journey to the center of the drama center


Hailey Veninga

Noah Michel (9) and Emma Cutler (9) perform during the dress rehearsal of “Journey To The Center Of The Universe.”

The OHS theater program has wrapped their spring show, “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” 

Performed as a radio play, the show follows Axel and his uncle, the professor, as they embark on a journey to reach the center of the Earth. To aid in the storytelling, the set was crafted to resemble an old radio station, live Foley artists created sound effects on stage and members of the sound crew also received their time under the stage lights, adding music and adjusting the levels on the microphones directly from left stage. The show was streamed through security cameras installed throughout the drama center and in the green room, giving viewers an all-inclusive look into Oakville’s first radio station.

“Because the show was a radio play, we were able to make choices about staging that were completely out of the realm of the story we were telling,” theater director Melissa Harper said. “This gave us a lot more freedom of design for the show. The technical aspects of production were also able to be showcased onstage. From lighting, to music, to live sound effects, to audio mixing, it was all executed in full view of the cameras. That kind of visibility is something our tech students rarely get to experience.”

While this show presented new opportunities for the crew, the actors were also pushed outside of their comfort zones by learning how to voice act, as they had to exaggerate and manipulate their voices in order to better fit their character. Since the show was performed as a radio play, the characters don’t move as often as they would in a traditional play, meaning the audience relies on the strong voices and character development to keep them interested. They also had to experiment with their microphones over and over in order to find the perfect volume. 

“There was a learning curve to the microphones. We spent a lot of time in our sound booths during rehearsals, just yelling into them in order to get them set to the right levels so the audio is good for the viewers,” Samantha Brummet (11) said. “It was definitely hard for us to get them all set up properly, but we did it.”

This was Oakville’s fourth play in two years that has been streamed instead of having a live audience, but the theater company hopes that they will begin live theater once again. 

With our small space and the uncertainty of COVID, we didn’t have much of a choice but to stream for these past two years,” Harper said. “You prepare for in-person shows and live streamed shows completely differently, so a last minute change from in-person to streaming just wouldn’t have been an option. Students invest so much of themselves into each show, I would never have wanted to have to tell them we wouldn’t be able to perform because COVID cases were too high to invite people into our space. We’re crossing our fingers that we won’t have a need to strictly livestream in the future.”

The theater company is incredibly pleased with their performance and are excited to see what the future of Oakville’s theater has in store.

“For the future, I’d love to see the theater become even more innovative,” Helen Murvihill (11) said. “I think we have made a lot of strides in that area over the last few years, but I know with the new faces we’ll see even more growth. This show really showcased that. A lot of what was seen for the show was student designed. I think it all worked out and gives us something to be proud of.”