Spotlights on Spring Valley’s Theatre Program

Spring Valley shines a spotlight on two of our newest staff members, Amanda Cantwell as the school’s new Theatre and Theatre Tech director, and Sharlene Moss the introductory course Theatre instructor. 

Amanda Cantwell, or better known as Ms. Cantwell, is marking her ninth year as a Clark County school district educator. Throughout her career, she has been considered a “Jack of all trades,” as she’s taught a variety of subjects such as English, Special Education, and Theater. 

A new opening emerged for Spring Valley’s Theatre and Technology director after Anthony Coffield, said his final goodbyes during the 2021-2022 school year. This opportunity was something Cantwell said she was looking forward to. 

“I have a big history with the school that I’m coming from in terms of English, and Theater and English go well together,” Cantwell said. “I feel like the storytelling aspect of theater, I was really missing a lot; [So] that was a really big game change for me.” 

Doctor Sharlene Moss also has a similar history with these subjects as Cantwell. Moss is brand new to not only SVHS but to Nevada. She taught 10 years at the Los Angeles Unified School District and North Hollywood High School as an English and Theatre teacher. She has decided to keep her passion for these subjects, and now teaches Introduction to Theatre, as well as regular and International Baccalaureate (IB) English for the school, coincidingly aiding Cantwell with the upcoming plays and shows. 

Across Cantwell’s academic years, she performed in an assortment of plays such as Bye Bye Birdie, Fiddler on the Roof, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in her local community theater. She still deeply holds “each experience near and dear to [her] heart.” 

“I’ve been on stage since I was three,” Cantwell said.  “I started off dancing and then at about 10, I started joining the school plays. [Then] I moved into community theater; it was all really fun,” 

Even though Cantwell has a deep theater history, she has limited experience within the technological aspect of the program. Cantwell explains that she and tech students are working diligently and collectively. 

“I am not primarily tech as Mr. Coffield was, so we’re all kind of helping each other out with the two aspects,” Cantwell said. “[For the tech classes], I’m getting support from people who work with tech around the district. Students walk me through what they’ve done before, what they were studying last year, and I build on that.” 

Spring Valley has always had a very involved student tech program, but now more than ever it’s very dependent on the leads to make sure the technical elements are up to our standards. 

“So far, things have been going very well and we’ve done a really good job working as a team, assistant stage manager Hayley Rizor said. “Ms. Cantwell provides us with so much support and is always willing to work with us even on the smallest of details. Of course, there are always going to be some missteps and user error, as the plays are always very stressful times, but more often than not, tech really runs like a family, and I’m glad we have Ms. Cantwell as the newest member.” 

Moreover, Spring Valley staff and students’ sense of community has and will continue to stand strong during Ms. Cantwell’s addition to the team. 

“[They’ve been treating me] great,” Cantwell said. “Everybody’s really helpful. Everybody just kind of acts as a team. [They] ask, ‘Hey, how was your day? How did it go? And we all help each other when we can.” 

As Cantwell manages her new role, the production of Arsenic and Old Lace are in action. The piece, originally related in the 1940’s illuminates farce, dark comedy about a man who feels as if his entire family is insane. The man goes through days of discovery to uncover a dark secret which never left the shadows. 

“It’s so fun! We’ve had a lot of dark days, and the last few years have been really trying especially for schools and education. I thought it would be really fun to bring [in] a comedy, something really light-hearted that audiences could enjoy…and get into,” Cantwell explained. 

Students are also sharing the same enthusiasm. 

“I’m super excited to see where we’re able to get with this play. Everyone has such amazing ideas and honestly, I’ll be happy just to see this program excel like it has in the past,” Senior and Scenic Design Lead Allyson Potter said. 

“I’m so excited to be working with everybody on Arsenic. We’re going to put on a fantastic show and nobody is going to break curtain!” Rizor stated. 

Both Cantwell and Moss explain that theatre is representative and interchangeable to anyone at any time. 

“I love the timelessness of [theatre],” Moss said. “You can take a piece that was written thousands of years ago [and] hundreds of years ago, and you can put it into modern times; it’s still relevant, and it still gets a laugh from the audience. It just brings us joy.” 

“Theater is life changing,” Cantwell described. “It can give you the power that was inside you all along that you never knew you had.”