‘Magic In The Attic’ embraces cultural heritage through storytelling


Rachel Neathery

Maddy Latham, Katie Craddock and Loki Anderson run through the script for “Magic In The Attic” during after-school rehearsal on Nov. 16.

Rachel Neathery, Staff Writer

High in a poorly lit attic, the musty scent of dust lingers in the air from crowded boxes, reminiscent of forgotten memories covered by sheets. Contrary to its outer appearance, the attic covers a hint of magic underneath.

The theater department’s winter play, “Magic In The Attic,” features two siblings, Elinor and Leo, who are tasked to clean up their grandma’s attic. To their surprise, the two find an old notebook filled with stories written in Yiddish. As they begin to read, the spirits of their great-great-grandmother, Bubbie E, and Jewish elves magically come to life. Together they rediscover their cultural heritage through three Yiddish stories.

“Whereas this story is specific to the Jewish culture and the Jewish heritage, the story is really universal about embracing your family’s story,” theater arts director Andy Shaw, who is in charge of this show’s production, said. “The task that the spirit of their great-great-grandmother has is that she wants these stories to progress, be passed down and remembered.”

Unlike past productions, “Magic In The Attic” presents three separate stories within an overarching plot. Each story has its own individual characters, and some cast members perform a role in multiple stories. 

“[In most other plays], you usually only have one character and get to spend a lot of time developing them, so it’s really fun to get to be multiple characters and show how they are different on stage,” senior Katie Craddock, who plays Elinor and The Princess, said. “You obviously know you’re the same person, and the audience knows you’re the same person, so you have to convince the audience through the way you talk and your mannerisms that you’re a different [character].”

The production and tech crew work on costumes, character design and set builds to put the show together. Senior John Garrison, one of the students working in the sound booth, is in charge of playing the sound effects that are heard on stage, such as creaking floorboards in the attic.

“[Sound] definitely gives a whole new dimension to the storytelling because a lot of purely visual elements can draw people in; however, there needs to be that extra something,” Garrison said. “[That concept] is like old silent movies, but when it came to the addition of sound, it helped emerge and make the audience feel a part of the story.”

As well as sound, the production team is also creating costume designs that will add fantasy elements to the performance for more convincing roles.

“I can’t wait to act it all out on stage with props and everything,” freshman Rishikaa Velraj, who plays The King, said. “With my costume, I’ll have a wig that I hope I’ll be performing in [to embody my character].”

“Magic In The Attic” is targeted towards younger audiences, a contrast to the previous fall production of “She Kills Monsters,” which dealt with more mature themes. Despite the shift, the theater arts department hopes for families to not just enjoy the story, but to take away a lesson from it.

[It’s a] great education for the small children coming to see the show because some of them may not know that other languages [such as Yiddish] exist,”

— freshman Rachel Shear

“[It’s a] great education for the small children coming to see the show because some of them may not know that other languages [such as Yiddish] exist,” freshman Rachel Shear said. “They’re going to hear these words in a kids’ show and it’s going to be a very nice [lesson] for them in a fun way.”

Cast, crew and staff members face challenges, with less rehearsal time to run through the script due to the weeks off during winter break. As a result, the cast plans to continue individually practicing their lines over the break to make up for lost time. 

“When I hear the instant reaction from people laughing, it’s possibly one of my favorite things,” freshman Loki Anderson, who plays Leo, said. “Especially at the end of the show, when people start applauding and you’re the only one bowing at that moment, that is the best feeling ever.”

Shows will take place on Jan. 28 and 29 at 7 p.m. and Jan. 29 and 30 at 2 p.m in the auditorium. Tickets are available to purchase on the Chantilly drama website or at the door of the show.