New director brings fresh approach to theater


Hannah Brock

Mr. Jacob Rodriguez speaks to his theater students before rehearsal. Rodriguez has been lauded for his energy and enthusiasm.

Leo Shields, Jordan Scott, and Alex Loya

No more plays, make way for musicals. El Paso High School’s first musical in over a decade will be shown this year in the form of “Into the Woods”.

“I’m a musical theater fan,” new Theater Director Jacob Rodriguez said. “I love acting and I love music, so putting the two together is just an exciting prospect. I feed off people’s energy and I think the kids are hungry for a musical.”

Being a new teacher at El Paso High School, Rodriguez not only has to set a standard for future musicals and plays, but also has to face the challenges of having to adapt to a new school and its students.

The choice to produce “Into the Woods” is one that will appeal to everyone in the audience.

“I think Into the Woods was a really great choice,” Theater Club President Athena Drobet said. “It’s a very common musical and it’s also very kid friendly so it’s appropriate for everyone. It’s very theatrical and even people who are very new here have a lot of opportunities because there’s a lot of roles. Even people who aren’t familiar with theater could still find themselves doing this new musical as well.”

There are always challenges to overcome when creating a show. One problem expressed by the Theater Student Activities Manager, Oiram Duenas-Valles, is how far the actors can project their voices due to the design of the building.

Another problem is funding. With there not being a huge budget for plays, Rodriguez decided that the best way to build the sets would be for students to build everything.

“We are going to problem solve, there’s always a problem to solve in every single high school theater,” Mr. Rodriguez said. “ We’re trying to recycle as many things as possible so we can keep the price down and hopefully promote art without breaking the budget.”

Despite the challenges presented, the theater has many students excited to participate.

“We have so many talented kids and our production classes have grown,” Mr. Rodriquez said. “ We have a lot of people so it’s a really big impact to have that enthusiasm from students.”

Rodriguez’s arrival has also seemed to draw in more students. His attention and emotion directed at students makes them feel welcome and excited to participate in the theater’s upcoming shows.

“Mr. Rodriguez is a very outgoing and energetic teacher and that helps people to engage more,” Athena Drobet said. “A lot more people have joined because he just has a personal way of connecting with students.