Charity play casts off

Published 10:27 pm Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Nansemond River High School students pause for a photo during dress rehearsals Tuesday for “The Survivors.” In the front row are Madeline Kowalski, Ashley Kuchynka, Myranda Hill, Kiana Wilkerson, Phylicia Nixon, Trinity Torres, Brittany Johnson, Yvette Gamor and Jaylen Daniels. Standing are Christian Ellis, Rayna Johnson, Cody Edwards, Alexis Hernandez, Harold Hodge, Louisa Gamor, Rolonzo Rawles, Cady Strickland, Amy Rice and Rachel Josey.

Nansemond River High School students pause for a photo during dress rehearsals Tuesday for “The Survivors.” In the front row are Madeline Kowalski, Ashley Kuchynka, Myranda Hill, Kiana Wilkerson, Phylicia Nixon, Trinity Torres, Brittany Johnson, Yvette Gamor and Jaylen Daniels. Standing are Christian Ellis, Rayna Johnson, Cody Edwards, Alexis Hernandez, Harold Hodge, Louisa Gamor, Rolonzo Rawles, Cady Strickland, Amy Rice and Rachel Josey.

Nansemond River High School students are reprising the story of Noah, with a few twists thrown in, for a charity drama performance next month.

About 23 students have been rehearsing for “The Survivors” since school returned after Christmas, said Harold Hodge, the Nansemond River senior who wrote the play.

“It’s very loosely based on Noah and the flood, but it focuses more on Noah’s children, coming of age, and family ties,” Hodge said.

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“Each child is going through their own personal problems. (But) once the family gets trapped on the ark, they have to work through their differences and their problems.”

Hodge said the play was the fifth he has written and directed for charity. One performance is planned: March 7 at 7 p.m. Entry at the school auditorium will cost a toy, which will benefit the Edmarc Hospice for Children.

“The show is being sponsored by VOICE, which is a volunteer club in the school and it volunteers with Edmarc on a lot of different events,” Hodge said.

For the amateur playwright, the storyline of his latest creation is analogous to the challenges he and his classmates face as seniors.

“I thought how Noah and his family were starting off in a new world after the flood,” he said. “It represents perfectly what seniors are going through.”

Cody Edwards’ character is Japheth, one of Noah’s sons. “Basically I’m kind of like one of the troubled children in the family,” he said.

“I fall in love with a woman from the City of Sin. It turns out she is basically poisoning me … ,” and there Edwards trailed off after Hodge cautioned against giving too much away.

Alexis Hernandez plays Naomi, the daughter of the Queen of Thebes who is sent by her mother to spy on Noah’s family, “but she really doesn’t want to do that because she’s in love with Japheth,” the teen explained.

Hernandez said there was a lot of herself in her character, who “just wants to protect the family and be a generally good person.”

Hodge, who says he plans to major in directing at college after applying to several New York schools and receiving several scholarship offers, said that directing his peers can be trying.

But “this is the most dedicated cast I have had,” he said, “because most of them have it in their head to do what they are supposed to do. I don’t have to be on them a lot.”

Hernandez said she was happy to let Hodge — like Noah — lead the way. “He’s the director — anything he wants,” she said.