When Isabel Ratner decided to run for Community Ensemble Theatre’s Publicity Secretary before the school year began at Community High, it seemed like a great fit. She’s a people person, she loves CET, and – just to make it perfect – she’s the editor of the school’s award-winning periodical news magazine, The Communicator.
An ideal situation, all right. It was just a matter of fitting it into her schedule.
She sings, she acts, she writes, she edits, and now she pumps out Community Ensemble Theatre publicity like nobody’s business. Just ask this reporter, who was the beneficiary of her excellent work when she lined up several interviews for a recent story and provided photos to go along with it.
“I like to stay busy, that’s for sure,” said Ratner, a senior at Community High. “I tried to back off a little this semester, but I always have to be doing something or I get bored.”
The “backing off” of which Ratner speaks might be the fact that she isn’t performing double duty for Community Ensemble Theatre as it prepares to stage “Inherit the Wind” March 15-18 at the school’s Craft Theatre. She’s “just” the publicity director for this play. For CET’s last production, “Into The Woods,” she played the role of Cinderella and was in charge of publicity.
“I never really did publicity for anything before, so I didn’t know what it was all about,” Ratner said. “It was a little much being in the play and doing the publicity. It’s a bit more realistic doing it this way.”
She’s not used to watching a show from the audience or backstage. She has performed in every show Community has staged since her freshman year – nine in all – and her love for theater grows with each production.
Besides “Into the Woods,” she has appeared in “Fiddler on the Roof,” “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” and others. Her CET experience began in the ninth grade with “Spamalot,” a musical rendition of Monty Python’s “The Holy Grail.”
“That first show blew my mind,” she said. “I was hooked right from the start.”
Ratner said her passion for theater has been stoked by the direction of longtime CET sponsor Quinn Strassel.
“Without him CET wouldn’t be what it is,” she said. “The values he instills, the love for theater he has spreads to all of us. He’s amazing.”
Publicity Secretary is one position on Community Ensemble Theatre’s Student Board. There’s also President, Vice President, Merchandising Manager and Underclassmen Representative. The group meets weekly to discuss issues that might be occurring with productions.
“It’s just basically to keep small problems from becoming big ones,” Ratner said. “Whether it’s personal issues someone might be having in the show, or even outside the show that’s affecting them, we’ll talk about and see if we can help resolve it. Our president, Fiona Lynch, is real approachable, not to mention an amazing performer, and she does a great job leading the board.”
Ratner isn’t sure where she will go to college, but she knows drama will continue to be her focus after high school.
“I love the theater and that’s what I’ll be doing in college,” she said. “I want to get a Bachelor of Arts in Theater.”
Music also will be a focus.
“I’ve been surrounded by music for as long as I can remember,” she said. “My brother plays the violin, I’ve played the piano since I was 7, I take voice lessons, my dad plays the piano and the banjo, my mom plays the piano, there’s just music everywhere.
“I’ve been singing in some way all through elementary, middle school and high school. I love theater and music. I can’t imagine my life without either one of them.”
WHAT: “Inherit the Wind” by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
WHO: Community High School’s Community Ensemble Theatre, directed by Forrest Hejkal and technically directed by Brice O’Neal
WHERE: All performances in Craft Theater at Community High School
WHEN: March 15, 16, 17 (two shows) and 18
TICKETS: Soon will be available at showtix4u.com. Call 734-994-2025 for more information.