Considering the goth and grunge costumes, the artfully dramatic makeup and sleek black-and-white press photographs, you'd think Pine Creek High School Theatre had a staff of pros toiling away backstage for its upcoming production of the 1972 Broadway act Pippin.
Instead, it's theater director Carrie Barnhardt-Roberson facilitating, some parents volunteering, and students doing everything else. In preparing to tell the tale of a young prince obsessed with living an extraordinary life, they're designing and doing their own hair and makeup; helping create their costumes; and planning and designing their set, even the lighting.
It's all part of Barnhardt-Roberson's philosophy. She says she pushes her students to show integrity "to the point that fulfilling their obligation is not enough, that they have to go further than that."
That idea goes beyond the stage, she says. But when the students are on stage, "I teach them not to act like they're good or think they're good, to know you're good in your heart and let the work speak for itself."
Barnhardt-Roberson has led the program for eight of its 10 years. Under her watch, Pine Creek earned Show of the Year honors at the 2005 Colorado State Thespian Conference for The Importance of Being Earnest, and was nominated for the same award in 2007 and 2009. While the theater supports itself through ticket sales and fundraising, the administration has helped with big-ticket upgrades like resurfacing the stage floor and purchasing three body microphones for this year. After all, says the director, the school is the technology magnet for District 20.
Named the 2008 Colorado State Senior High Theatre Educator of the Year by the Alliance for Colorado Theatre, Barnhardt-Roberson has sculpted a program that "says that young people are capable of much bigger things than people realize with the proper guidance."
Proof of her prowess: Senior Sam Teets, 2006 graduate Oscar Robinson, and 2009 graduate Marco Robinson have performed with the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company. (The Robinsons' younger brother Christian, a Pine Creek freshman, plays the prince's half-brother in this show.)
Barnhardt-Roberson says other alumni are working as stage technicians in various places and some are in theater training programs.