Expect To Laugh: ‘Parents Just Don’t Understand’

Henley High School Drama Program to perform comedy Thursday, Friday, Saturday, May 16th through the 18th, 7 pm.

Avelina Alfaro’s face lights up as she tells the audience about plans for her sweet 16 birthday party – drinks in champagne glasses, 50 of her closest friends, a DJ. Her parents, however, had other ideas.

Rigo Cruz just wanted to watch the baseball game with his dad. His dad, however, had an ulterior motive. It was time for “the talk.”

Father, played by Victor Manzo, initiates “the talk” with his son, played by Rigo Cruz, during scene 6 of the comedy “Parents Just Don’t Understand.”

Henley High School drama program’s final performance of the school year is a Bryan Starchman comedy, “Parents Just Don’t Understand,” a collection of funny – and often truthful – scenes that most families will understand. Learning to drive. The backseat during family road trips. A ruined Thanksgiving turkey. The family Christmas letter. Titles of sketches in the 10-scene production include “Clothes Make the Man,” “She Said, She Said,” “It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want To,” and “To Grandmother’s House We Go.”

Expect to laugh – out loud.

Performances are at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 16, Friday, May 17, and Saturday, May 18 at Henley High School’s
Hampton Theater. Tickets are available in advance at the high school office or at the door. Admission is $5 for students and seniors and $7 for adults.

The play, directed by Henley drama teacher Jennifer Olson and retired educator Cleora Hampton, has a cast of 12. The actors and production crew have been working since the beginning of April, and they are ready for opening night.

Annika Rogers and Victor Manzo depict active grandparents (who live a bit on the wild side) in scene 10 “To Grandmother’s House We Go.”

The student actors alternate roles – one scene playing a son or daughter, the next a parent. Senior Annika Rogers turns to her “daughter (played by senior Danielle Herinckx) in “She Said, She Said,” and exclaims “You have crossed the line! Where did you get this attitude from?” Rogers said the play has helped her relate to her own mom – “After doing this play, I feel so bad for her,” she said laughing.

Senior Brianna Eichelkraut, who plays the excited mom planning her daughter’s sweet 16 birthday party (spoiler: the Capri Suns are not served in champagne glasses), agreed.

“Some of these scenes remind me so much of my own mom,” she said. Avelina Alfaro, a senior who not only plays the daughter in the sweet 16 party scene but an often-frustrated mother in several other scenes, at one point is so angry at her arguing children, she slams her hands on the table and raises her voice.
“I kind of realized: this is how I make my mom feel,” she said.

The play opens at a wake as a family – mom, dad, and their two reluctant teenagers arrive at a funeral for Aunt Lulu (exactly whose side of the family is she from?). Henley High’s Kevin Worden, who made an appearance via a framed photograph in the school’s fall production, returns (via the photo) as the late Bubba.

Danielle Herinckx (mother) and Star Murillo (daughter) react to Star’s first driving lesson during scene 9 of the comedy “Parents Just Don’t Understand.”

Each following scene, which features different characters and stands independently, includes costume and set changes, which are coordinated by stage manager Fawn Harris and her crew.

“She has orchestrated the whole thing,” Olson said. “It’s a demanding stage manager role, and she has it nailed. She has this crew that knows exactly what they’re doing.”

The 10-scene, two-act production relies heavily on its crew. Lighting and sound cues are constant, and must be exact, Olson said. Tayla Gale is one of the backstage crew members who help actors with hair and makeup, often as they are changing costumes between scenes. “It’s pretty cool to see the transition, to see it come to life,” she said. “There’s so much work that goes into this,” Harris said. “This play is definitely worth seeing, Everyone in it is so passionate … they make it worthwhile.”

Mother (Avelina Alfaro) dictates a family Christmas letter while her daughter (Kira Driscoll) listens (and provides commentary).

The cast includes Brianna Eichelkraut, Victor Manzo, Marrissa Gerney, Rigo Curz, Megan Ormsbee, Justin
Ormsbee, Avelina Alfaro, David Serrano, Annika Rogers, Danielle Herinckx, Kira Driscoll, and Star Murillo.
Production crew members are Sydney Groff, Abigail Williams, Fawn Harris, Danielle Herinckx, Sydnee Howard,
Kendra Rempe, Dazen Bland, Savannah Griffith, Tayla Gale, and Kate Harter.

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