Cappies Reviews For Up The Down Staircase

A young, ambitious teacher nurtures the hope of changing the lives of high schoolers by awakening their love in classic literature; however, her innocence causes her to underestimate the rowdiness of her students. Laguna Hill’s production of Up the Down Staircase is a heartwarming play that shows the growing bond between a teacher and her students. This play was made into a film in 1967. Sylvia Barrett is a caring young lady who becomes a teacher in a big city in the hopes of becoming “friends” with her students.
Eventually, she decides to leave the school because she thinks she isn’t making of school. With her head bowed, and her hands quietly laid behind her back, Sylvia shuffles into her homeroom, gazing out at the daunting space as if it were filled with poisonous snakes. It is from this weak, almost pathetic child that Sylvia grows alongside her unruly students. As they, the “mob” turn from curious agitation to open hostility towards their oppressive English overlord, so too does Sylvia’s innocent nature become calloused with anger and frustration.
It is in the wake of Alice Blake’s (Megan Crayne Beall) accident, the young girl, who’s love struck mind still had time to do the homework Ms. Sylvia assigned her, that the entire class comes together. The student’s desks, at first turned away from not only the audience, but also Sylvia, slowly turned to face her, symbolizing not only acceptance, but also a powerful unity created not by discipline or fear, but by love and respect. Sylvia’s cold-hearted nature melts away and is replaced by confidence and compassion.

No longer does she stay rooted to the front of the class, allowing anger and resentment to grow within her, but she moves about, concern for the future of her students written on every expression, and detailed in all her staging. Laguna Hills’ “Up the Down Staircase” is a captivating story of one woman’s compassion triumphing over the ignorance of society. With high energy and phenomenal stage chemistry, the entire cast puts on a show to remember.

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