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SCHOOLS | South Kitsap student headed to Broadway

South Kitsap High School senior Alexandra Hope is headed to New York after placing third in the August Wilson Monologue in February in Seattle. - Dannie Oliveaux/Staff Photo
South Kitsap High School senior Alexandra Hope is headed to New York after placing third in the August Wilson Monologue in February in Seattle.
— image credit: Dannie Oliveaux/Staff Photo

The adjectives she uses to describe herself belie her small-town upbringing.

And that is what makes South Kitsap High School senior Alexandra Hope’s next adventure intriguing.

Hope, who characterized herself as “shy” and “soft-spoken,” will head to a place better known as lively and loud next month. An Acting Ensemble student at the high school, Hope placed third in the August Wilson Monologue in February in Seattle to advance to the finals in New York. Each member had to memorize a monologue from one of Wilson’s shows and perform for a panel of professional actors and directors.

Two South seniors, Hope and Megan Sigurdson, placed in the top 10 among 60 students from Washington in February at Seattle Repertory Theater. The top three placers then won an all expenses paid, five-day trip to New York.

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to work with people on Broadway,” Hope said. “I’m super excited.”

Hope has participated in several plays at South. Her favorite role was Annelle in "Steel Magnolias". Hope said she liked that role because she felt the character was similar to her.

While Annelle was her favorite character, no role was more significant for Hope than the one she played during the August Wilson Monologue, which comprises 10 different plays set in the 20th Century. According to truecolorstheater.org, “At the core of each work are soaring, lyrical monologues that take the song, laughter, pain and rich content of African-American life and place it in the mouths of a great and varied ensemble of characters.”

Hope portrayed Rose, the lead female character, from Wilson’s "Fences". That 1983 play, which examines race relations and several themes, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play in 1987. Hope said she felt she could relate to her character because Rose “was giving her all to a relationship, regardless if the other person does or not.” Rose’s husband, Troy, had an affair during the play.

“Alexa just is real and it’s hard to teach that,” South acting ensemble instructor Scott Yingling said. “One of the things that the people at the Rep were so impressed with her is her vulnerability on stage. It’s a vulnerability, but with strength. She is very sure who she is — she’s confident.”

The latter is important, Yingling said, as Hope will compete against students from New York to Los Angeles. Last year, South’s Drew Boening was selected for the finals in New York. Yingling said Boening had the opportunity to meet actors, such as Daniel Radcliffe, who rose to prominence while playing the title character in the “Harry Potter” series, attend workshops and perform.

“From the time they wake up, everything is planned,” he said. “They’re not going there to sightsee or play. They’re going there for the experience.”

While Boening hoped the experience would serve as a linchpin toward a theater career, Hope has different aspirations. While she hopes to pursue community theater, Hope might study business at Western Washington University next year. An avid cook, Hope eventually hopes to open a bakery.

A cursory examination of theater and baking might indicate few similarities, but Hope sees an important connection.

“You have students like Alexa, or anybody, it helps them get out of their shell,” Yingling said. “It helps them with their public speaking, job interviewing and thinking on their feet.”

Hope, who takes three Advanced Placement classes at South and maintains a 3.79 grade-point average, said she made the decision to pursue theater when she entered high school because “I’m not athletic or coordinated.” She is grateful for the guidance Yingling and theater manager Debi Emans have provided her.

“I could not have done anything without both of them,” Hope said. “They’re fantastic.”

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