by: Sherlin Gonzalez
SANFORD – For her latest momentous performance at Lee County High School, Leah Page received the opportunity to be the head of the school’s newest play.
In her last year at LCHS, Page has a full circle moment of being able to lead the crew that made it possible for her to be there in the first place.
“Annie, Jr.” is Page’s debut as a student director. Fortunately for her, taking on this responsibility has been fun for everyone involved despite the heavy work schedules.
“Because I’ve been in the program for so long, we’re practically family, so it’s honestly like being able to boss your younger siblings around,” Page said.
The idea of directing was on the back of her mind since Page knew she was able to do it. As her junior year came to an end, she made Ron Coley, the director of LCHS theatre department, aware that she was interested.
Actors have very limited say in how a play is structured. “Every single show I’ve been in, there have been moments where I’ve wanted to change something that an actor has been doing, how they sing, how they say a line, something like that, but as an actor, that’s not my place to do it,” Page said.
Page has high expectations for “Annie, Jr.” as she and the crew behind the play have been working hard. Not only the crew, but also the actors she chose to be in her play. “It’s less about me and more about the faith that I have in all of my actors,” Page said, “They’re all putting a tremendous amount of work in right now.”
Actors Peyton Freeman and Nathan Spitler will be starring in this play as Grace Farrell and Daddy Warbucks. They both have previously been in a few plays with Page, adding to their excitement to be in a play directed by her.
Each director has their own way of doing things. Being clear to say how much she enjoys performing for Coley, Freeman said “I would say Leah is very lenient and open to change.
“I would agree. Coley can be very set in his ways a lot of the time,” Spitler added. Both actors added that both directors are great, being clear to add they enjoy performing for and learning from Coley.
Page is more open to discuss things with the actors as someone who was in the same position before. Freeman notes that as much as she likes Page as a director, it is also strange for her to see someone she grew up acting with to now be seen as a figure of authority.
Page and Freeman have been acting together since they were 11 years old. She is excited to see Page as a director and be part of it. “I definitely wanted to be a part of Leah’s first go around with directing because I did my very first play with Leah,” Freeman explains. She is happy to help Page in any way while simultaneously playing her role as Grace Farrell.
As the performance dates of October 6, 7, 8, and 9 quickly approach, the actors are excited to see how everything comes together.
“100 percent, yeah. So far, Leah has been amazing as a director,” Spitler said. “I feel the exact same way,” Freeman agrees.
Freeman and Spitler are ecstatic to see one of their friends pursue such a task. “I am just so proud that she gave me this incredible role, and I hope to do it to the best of my ability. But just that I get to be a part of this with her,” Freeman said.
Everything wraps up as the crew prepares to set up this student director’s very first play at Lee senior and have their talented actors bring it to life.