Gratitude for life at the core of Freshman/Sophomore production of ‘The Wong Kids In the Secret of the Space Chubacabra GO!’

The Freshmen/Sophomore winter play opened on Feb. 3 in the Little Theater, the eve of ETHS’ second snow day in a row. An unfortunate occurrence, but… the show must go on!.

The Wong Kids in the Secret of the Space Chupacabra Go! follows siblings Violet and Bruce Wong on a journey through space as they discover their identities and what makes them each uniquely special. 

The cast and crew blew the audience away in each of their three consecutive performances, delivering a completely unforgettable, eccentric and delightful 90 minutes. The show was complete with unique props, humor, a musical number and a message meant to ring true for those in attendance.

The show resonated with many of the cast members like sophomore Olivia Catayong.

“It’s a really uplifting and great story, kind of wacky and all over the place, but it’s fun,” Catayong says. “And I feel like we need fun right now.”

“The story is about rediscovering an unabashed gratitude for life in the face of doubt, fear and shame. Part of that rediscovery requires accepting your own individuality and the individuality of others,” director Erin Claeys wrote in the show’s program. 

One of the most important and touching aspects of this play is the way the audience is given the chance to connect with characters who are dealing with some of the same issues so many people deal with every single day.

“We see the Wong Kids and nearly every other character struggle with acceptance, just as so many of us struggle with it every day,” Claeys wrote in the program.

The show was, astonishingly, put together in just three weeks, with the first rehearsal taking place just after winter break came to an end. The actors were resilient through this tight time frame and even had their final rehearsals cut short due to a snow day. 

“The 13 of [the actors] are so adaptable and so open and so willing to grow and try new things,” Claeys explains.

The snow days weren’t the only challenges the young cast had to face; with COVID still very much at large throughout rehearsals and performances, the cast—many of them in their first in-person ETHS production ever—had to learn to act in a much more challenging environment than previous plays. 

“[Wearing masks while performing,] we had to focus a lot more on body expression as opposed to facial expression,” says sophomore Karis Martin.

“And then there’s enunciation,” Catayong adds. “Masks make it a hundred times harder to understand what we’re saying.” 

Despite these challenges, the actors were still able to create a memorable show filled with sci-fi, fun and an uplifting theme. This was due in part to the production’s members themselves. Between their flexibility, humor and acting abilities, it was clear that each performer was enjoying themselves and had one another’s backs. 

“Something I really value in a theater production is building ensemble and trust among the cast members,” Claeys says. 

This was evident throughout the show, as the cast performed as a supportive community; one that could be felt from the audience. 

With the relatable theme of growing up and finding your identity, The Wong Kids in the Secret of the Space Chupacabra Go! is a show for everybody. The resilient group of cast members, with the help of their director, were able to pull off a crazily entertaining play set in space, decked out with puppets and scenery.