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The Foothill Dragon Press

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Foothill drama students act, sing, dance, direct, and improvise to pursue creative goals

(From left) Freshman Jonathan Lantiegne and juniors Cameron Liljekievist and Mahaila Woods all have a passion for being on stage. Credit: Josh Ren/The Foothill Dragon Press


(From left) Freshman Jonathan Lantiegne and juniors Cameron Liljekievist and Mahaila Woods all have a passion for being on stage. Credit: Josh Ren/The Foothill Dragon Press
(From left) Sophomore Jonathan Lantiegne and juniors Cameron Liljekvist and Mahaila Woods all have a passion for being on stage. Credit: Josh Ren/The Foothill Dragon Press

As the name implies, the art of drama encompasses many “dramatic” people and performers who contribute to the art form through different facets.

Foothill Technology’s Drama Department, reviving with a bang two years ago with its production of “Night of the Teenage Zombies,” is continuing to grow with its Drama Club and Drama class.

Four Foothill students, along with acting in Foothill’s drama productions, also pursue creative art forms on the side and expressed their passion for their art forms to the Dragon Press.

 Mahaila Woods

Since the age of three, Mahaila Woods has been passionately involved with dance, specializing in ballet. She also participates in jazz, contemporary, and lyrical.

 “I started dancing at the Parks and Rec with Pam Cohen and this program called Dancing with Pam, which I now help teach/assist for,” Woods said.

After Dancing with Pam, Woods attended Jill Johnson’s Dance Studio. She also joined a program named Slippers and Masks, which is a dance and theater group that puts on several performances throughout the year.

Woods, being one of the older members, assists with the program while participating in it.

“I choreograph the dances,” she said. “The older kids, there’s about six of us, we just do the choreography and dances.”


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When asked what her favorite part of dancing was, Woods said, “There’s this quote that I have. And it’s, ‘Dance is about finding yourself, but losing yourself at the same time.’ You lose yourself in the art form so much, but you learn so much from it.”

Woods plans to continue dancing for fun after high school.

Cameron Liljekvist

The spark that ignited Cameron Liljekvist to become an actor began when his parents took him to see “The Lion King” playing at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood in third grade.

“As soon as it started, I told my parents, ‘I want to do that when I’m older.’ So I just fell in love with it,” Liljekvist said.

Liljekvist’s first experiences with acting were at his church, where he participated in a play in fifth grade.

“I’ve acted at my church, here at Foothill, I did some stuff at Buena, at Balboa Middle School and with PTYA at the Poinsettia Pavillion,” Liljekvist said.

Liljekvist has played numerous roles but one that stands out to him was Blythe, an evil sorcerer in Performance Theater for Young Artists’ original production of “The Lost Enchantment.”

It was his favorite “because it was an evil role, so I got to branch out as an actor,” he said. “My second favorite was probably Lumiere, just because he’s awesome and he’s the best character in ‘Beauty and the Beast.’”

Liljekvist will play the leading role of The Baker in PTYA’s upcoming production of “Into the Woods.”

“I really like the singing part, and just going onstage and sharing my talent,” he said. “It has so much energy, and it takes so much, and it’s an adrenaline rush.”

Liljekvist’s plans after high school are to move to New York City and act professionally as a career.

Karlee Layman

While most students spend their afternoons doing homework, Karlee Layman spends her afternoons helping middle school students sing, act, dance, and put on a musical. Layman is currently directing “Aladdin Jr.” at Balboa Middle School.

Layman participated in the Balboa Drama Club all three years of middle school, then decided to try something different and direct the shows there.

“I help the kids, like if they’re having trouble with their acting parts,” she said. “I know the experience of acting, so I can show them, but at the same time, still keep everything together.”

Layman says she never thought she would have the confidence to act, but it was her mother who encouraged her to try.

“I started doing little stuff on TV shows, then the opportunity for Balboa’s Drama Club play came, and I’m just like, ‘I want to try out for that,’” she said. “It was “Annie Jr.” so I tried out and I got the part of Molly. It was really fun.”

Now taking a behind-the-scenes role instead of being onstage, Layman has many jobs to do in order to make the musical successful.

“I mentor the kids. I help them read the lines if others are working on the dance numbers,” Layman said. “I kind of give them pointers or tips on it, like how to speak some roles if they have any trouble with it.”

Layman has people who also help her with the vocals, dancing, and overall management of the show.

Layman plans on continuing to help at Balboa with their Drama Club while pursuing acting at the same time.

When asked what her favorite part of directing young children was, Layman responded, “Watching them thrive just throughout the whole entire production. Watching them from not knowing how to say one line to them like performing out on stage. The whole thing is just beautiful.”

Jonathan Lantiegne

It was the encouragement of Jonathan Lantiegne’s friend that got him involved with the House of Magic Improv Theater group, which he has been a part of since 2011.

“I was very skeptical about it, because I had bad speaking problems. Talking in front of people was really hard,” he said. “So the first three months it was really hard for me, but afterwards I got really used to it and just wanted to keep going.”

Lantiegne has participated in five improv shows so far. Since improv requires an actor to think on top of their feet and not use a script, Lantiegne said he faces some challenges when performing with the much older actors.

“They have a lot of older gets [gags] that they get, like some shows that I’ve never heard of before,” Layman said. “They don’t move as fast sometimes as I do. Like they think fast, it’s just like I’m crazy, I move everywhere, and they’re just kind of slower.”

Lantiegne said he feels the most comfortable when he performs with one certain member of the improv group.

“If I can do anything with [him], like any scene with him and make it look good, then it’s pretty easy,” Lantiegne said.

Despite the struggles Lantiegne has faced while doing improv, he feels that his fellow, older improv members have taught him many useful acting skills.

“They help me with my facial expressions, because normally when I was on stage I would just have a blank face and I would show no emotion,” he said. “You could hear it in my voice, but my face would have nothing.”


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He also learned a useful improv technique called “run the danger,” which is where a character who would normally follow a simple request such as washing the dishes, refuses the task and creates a reason why. This often leads to comical struggle in the scene that the actors can work with.

Lantiegne’s favorite part about improv is the people he has met and worked with.

“I’ve made a lot of friends, like I didn’t expect to make that many friends with the adults,” he said. “You get closer with the people when you do improv because, with improv, you don’t have the script so you rely more on the person as you get closer. I feel like if you had a script you wouldn’t get as close.”

Lantiegne will continue to participate in improv, while also finding acting opportunities as well, since he wants to make a career out of acting. Like Liljekvist, Lantiegne will be participating in PTYA’s “Into the Woods,” playing the role of Rapunzel’s Prince.

“It’s going to be really fun because it’s going to be my first year, my first musical,” he said. “And since the public speaking has gotten easier, I can actually go in front of a crowd.”

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  • S

    Steven JerepApr 7, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Hey just wanted to point out that Mahaila is wearing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle shirt and there was a play called Night of the Teenage Zombies. Great article though, really glad more arts is getting covered on the site.

  • M

    MarioApr 5, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    Hey just wanted to point out that Jonathan is a Sophomore, not a freshman. Great article though, really glad more arts is getting covered on the site.