Stelly’s seniors present Divine Stella Devine

Sweet Southern Belles, Civil War antics and runaway toupees in store for audiences.

Longtime star of the stage Stella Devine (Rebecca Battilana)

Full of laugh-out-loud and overly dramatic moments, Divine Stella Devine opens at Stelly’s Secondary this Wednesday.

Stella Devine is the aging star of the popular Ritz Theatre, and she and her fellow actors are preparing for the epic play Civil War Darlin’s, written by the theatre’s acclaimed playwright in residence.

All is going (somewhat) smoothly when sweet Southern Belle Ginger shows up, with a suitcase and a story of a sick mother back in Savannah, Georgia. Ginger adores and idolizes Stella, and most of all is there to try and steal the starring role out from under Devine’s nose. Pretending to be a struggling waitress just trying to get back home, Ginger lies and cons her way into the part, creating sweet-smiling havoc the whole way.

Presented by the Acting 11/12 class, the students have been working hard on the production and are nearly ready for opening night next week.

“They’re all really great and really keen,” says Alicia Bartlett, who teaches dance, drama, acting and musical theatre at the school. “We’ve got quite a few boys this year, which is nice, and they’ve all been working really hard memorizing their lines and getting ready.”

Going beyond the stage roles, the Acting 11/12 students are trying their hands at all aspects of the theatre production. One student has taken over all costume design, another has stepped up to be assistant director, and several others are responsible for putting together the marketing materials.

“We’ve been working on it since March,” says Bartlett. “We’re getting all the set together right now, so it’s going really well.”

She adds that the process has been remarkably hiccup-free, a testament to Bartlett’s and the students’ talents and hard work.

Especially considering that Divine Stella Devine will be the first production ever for a handful of the students.

Full of humour and quick wit, it’s a great play to cut their teeth on.

“It’s a unique play. Some of the scenes are the play within the play,” says Bartlett. “The kids get to try out Southern accents, and there’s a lot of diverse characters. It’s a big cast.”

A big cast, indeed.

With 22 parts, the show offers quite the variety of characters for the students to explore.

As well as the titular Stella and the conniving Ginger, there’s also the unscrupulous newspaper reporter Billy, who would love nothing more than to catch Stella in a tyrannical fit so he can sell the sensational story to a national paper; Brad and Chad, twin brothers played by the same actor; Trevor, a bad actor with a runaway toupee who thinks he really is fighting the Civil War; and Marilyn, Stella’s beautiful but dim-witted co-star.

Divine Stella Devine opens Wednesday, May 20, and runs nightly at 7 p.m. until Friday, May 22 at Stelly’s Secondary School, 1627 Stellys Cross Road in Central Saanich.

Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, and are available at the door, or by contacting the school office at 250-652-4401.

For more information, visit stellys.sd63.bc.ca.