Fifteen-year-old high school sophomore Ilana Degann is The Cat in the Hat in Calabasas High School’s production of “Seussical: The Musical,” which plays this weekend at the school’s Performing Arts Education Center. The show’s director is Bill Garrett. I spoke with Ilana after opening night about her performance.
VCOS: Tell me about your theater experience.
Ilana: Last year was my first year at CHS but “Seussical” was my first CHS show. I’ve been doing shows at another children’s theater since the fourth grade.
VCOS: How was it playing the Cat as a girl? Isn’t usual a boy’s role?
Ilana: Playing the Cat as a girl just felt like second nature to me. The cast never really discussed if I was playing it as a boy or a girl, I just played it naturally with the help of Mr. Garrett. When it came time for the show we all just decided that the few lines referencing the Cat should say “she” rather than having to disguise myself as a boy. I saw the Cat as just someone who wanted to have fun but didn’t mind causing a little trouble to get there. I’ve actually performed in our new theater before in the Opening Gala with my friend Jared, who played Mr. Mayor. We performed a silent scene we wrote ourselves, but doing that was so different from performing in a REAL show. It’s great having such a fantastic space to work in and every day I walk in, I’m still in awe. It’s pretty scary being in not just a professional space, but a HUGE space. I’ve never had so many people watching me perform and I know it’s a feeling I’ll never forget. Hopefully I’ll be able to continue theater later in life and I’ll never have to stop feeling the adrenaline just before going on stage.
VCOS: How is Mr. Garrett as a director?
Ilana: I never could’ve gotten so far without the help of Mr. Garrett. He really knows how to work with the actors to turn an ordinary show into something spectacular.
For a complete review of CHS’ production of “Seussical,” look for my article in the Agoura Acorn this coming Thursday. Ilana and her friends will be sending their bios and headshots in to VC On Stage. When can we expect yours?