York County teen writes, directs musical about bullying
Zachary David Terrazas has friends who read “The Hunger Games.”
He prefers to read theater scripts and scores. He has about 300 of them and knows the directors and composers of each.
The Hanover teen has acted in about 18 musicals, and he’s only 17 years old. He’s only attended a few professional Broadway productions, but if a musical was made into a movie, he’s seen it.
In recent years, his favorite activity has also caused him pain.
“I think theater people are bullied most — at least the guys,” Terrazas said. “(Bullies) stereotype us and make fun of the stereotype.”
Even at a time when anti-bullying messages abound,
it still happened. Terrazas is proof. He got the impression that people expected him to grow thicker skin. But the taunts weren’t easy to ignore.
“Everyone says words can’t hurt you,” Terrazas said. “That’s not true. You’re human. You have emotions. It hurts.”
Disillusioned, Terrazas stepped away from the stage last year.
“I went through a dark time where I was very upset at everything and the world was a terrible place to live in,” Terrazas said.
When he saw others being bullied, he felt like he wasn’t doing enough to help them.
When he turned back to theater, he found his voice. He realized his theater friends and instructors were his biggest supporters. He channeled his frustration into music for a project at Hanover High School. It turned into a 30-minute anti-bullying musical, which he and classmates performed for middle school students. But Terrazas said it was way more Disney than his experiences.
He knew it had to be a full-length musical. It had to incorporate more real-life emotions and scenarios.
Chad-Alan Carr was Terrazas’ vocal coach for years at the Eichelberger Performing Arts Center and the Adams County School of Musical Theatre. When he heard his student was working on a play, he asked to see it.
“Bullying has gone on for decades, and now it’s even worse because of the cyber world,” Carr said. “(Terrazas) sent it to me and I really liked its message. I was bullied as a kid, and I connected
He suggested that Terrazas workshop the play — a process that involves simultaneously directing and rewriting — this summer.
“I feel like I lit a fire under it,” Carr said with a laugh. “(Terrazas) had just started it; he had it all in his head. I gave him a deadline and it just flowed. Sheets and sheets of script started coming out.”
What ended up on the page was anything but Disney, Terrazas said. It was more like “Rent,” a musical that addresses real-life issues, he added. The process forced him to pull from his own experiences and observations.
The drama focuses on two teen girls in an urban high school. One is popular and the other is not.
Terrazas said that he experienced guy bullying
Zachary David Terrazas, center, works with Kayla Anelli, 17, of Shrewsbury, left, and Abbie Mummert, 15, of Hanover. Terrazas grew up in theater. He’s been in several musicals and has read many scripts and scores. On Aug. 10, he will debut his first musical, ‘The Victim.’ The show has an anti-bullying message. ( DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS – KATE PENN)– which is more out-in-the-open and obnoxious. But girl bullying, he said, is different; it’s sneaky and usually involves rumors. The musical also addresses topics related to bullying, including teen suicide and family troubles.
The full show, titled “The Victim,” ended up being two hours. Terrazas said that’s about the length of “Wicked” or “The Phantom of the Opera.”
“It’s not just a kid tinkering on his piano,” Carr said. “He wrote every single word, every note and every scene. It’s pretty unheard of at his young age. His jazz-inspired score is contemporary and driving.”
Writing the music came naturally for Terrazas. Working on the script, he said, was more difficult, but Carr was there when he needed help, especially while casting the 15 roles and translating the words to the stage.
The timing was right to produce a more contemporary, and cutting-edge play, like “The Victim,” Carr said. The Adams County School of Musical Theatre started in 2009 as a place where kids could come for theater and music education. It recently transitioned to host plays and workshops for all ages. In June, it changed it’s name to Gettysburg Community Theatre.
Like Terrazas, Carr’s former students often come back to help with children’s productions. Now, he said, teens and young adults can continue their theater education with plays that address mature topics.
“Not everybody likes (a) fairytale,” Carr said, “Some people like the rock operas and the dramas.”
While workshopping his play, Terrazas continued to adapt the script. The cast, he said, has been patient and willing to adjust.
He is too busy as a first-time director to think much beyond Friday — the play’s debut. Terrazas will start his senior year at Hanover High School this fall. After that, he hopes to study composition in college and, one day, to write songs for Broadway.
When he started writing “The Victim,” Terrazas said, he didn’t think it would premiere for decades. But he realized his message can’t wait.
“The biggest thing for me (is that) someone will see it,” he said. “When I was bullied, it was a while until somebody did something. No one is getting in trouble for their actions. It’s not making them responsible for their actions. There should be a better way. This is an issue that needs to be looked into.”
If you go
See “The Victim” 7 p.m. Aug. 10 and 11 at Gettysburg Community Theatre, 49 York St., Gettysburg. Reserved seating is $11. For details and tickets, visit www.GettysburgCommunityTheatre.org or call 717-334-2692. The play contains mature language and mature subject matter.
Theater expands programming
Adams County School of Musical Theatre opened its doors in February 2009 in downtown Gettysburg. The nonprofit offered instruction in acting, voice, piano, dance and musical theater to students ages 4 to 18. It staged about 10 musicals per year.
“It has developed into a large company,” executive and artistic director Chad-Alan Carr said. It began to include more musicals, some of which include adults and are geared to older audiences.
So, in June, the school of musical theatre changed its name to Gettysburg Community Theatre. The organization has also expanded its theater faculty and plans to offer workshops in Shakespeare, Gilbert Sullivan, stage make-up and other topics.
For details, visit www.GettysburgCommunityTheatre.org.