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Expectations High

Hollywood, CA  - Expectations High is a new play conceived and written by its high school age cast - performers from the Take the Stage Working Pro class. It receives its world premiere in June as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival.

It started with a group of young teen (and pre-teen) actors who journeyed up to Hollywood from the far reaches of Long Beach and Orange County to support their fellow acting students who were cast in hard-hitting dramas produced in black box theatre Los Angeles. They were excited and inspired by what they experienced and wanted a chance to do it themselves. Thus - in the spring of 2017, thirteen creative and talented young acting students created their own “Hollywood Fringe Project.” The goal was set - the creation of a play from scratch. Conceive it, write it, rehearse it and present it as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival 2018.

The cast first met in our Long Beach-based acting class for professional and professional-level young actors in the Long Beach/Orange County area. The Working Pro class blends improvisation, scene study, on camera work, monologue performance, and text analysis training. All skills the young cast brought to bear during the 10 months of conceptualizing and devising work that brought forth a final script.

Expectations High is a one-hour play exploring the lives of thirteen teenagers in the hallways of their relatively small high school. Blending the laughter, friendships, cruelty, longings, and – yes – expectations that define our teenage years, it is a theatrical journey through the rumor, humor, drama and trauma that was, is, and (probably) always will be high school and puberty. Both the language and subject matter of the play is mature, focused on this frustrating, exciting, unpredictable, and important time in our lives.

The ensemble cast features Kyra Baklayan, Benen Falkner, Nico Fife, Kaelah Franklin, Dane Jamieson, Damian Santana, Olivia Shatsky, Grace Stedman, Ava Tomassini, Degas Viena, Grace Wilcox, Abby Young, Demi Young. The show is produced and directed by Bethany Price, and was written by the ensemble.

Expectations High performs Saturday, June 9th at 1pm & 4pm, Sunday, June 10th at 4:30pm, Wednesday, June 20th at 7pm and Thursday, June 21st at 7pm at the Other Space in the Actors Company complex of theatres. The Actors Company is located at 916 N. Formosa Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90046. Tickets for the performances are $10 and are available at HollywoodFringe.Org. Ample Street Parking.


Abby Young (Jill) is a sophomore at Los Altos High School where she is a part of the improv team and the national award-winning show choir. This year was their first undefeated season. Abby loves performing onstage. Some of her recent roles include the Wizard in the Wizard of Oz and Jill Scott in High School Musical.

Ava Tomassini (Vivienne) is an 8th Grader who enjoys acting and dancing on stage and screen. Her most recent roles on stage include playing Gloria in Bye Bye Birdie and a movement artist in Ordinary Days. She has acted in background roles on TV's The Middle and Kidding. Ava has been a competitive gymnast for several years.

Benen Falkner (Barry) is a sophomore in Long Beach, and enjoys playing guitar, video games, and hanging out with friends. He recently performed in a music concert for On Stage Music Academy, as well as various musicals for Ya Ya’s Performance Academy. He is now working on a cartoon series, as well as creating a music group.

Damian Santana (Vince) is a high school senior and will attend California State University Long Beach next year to study film. He has been studying acting and performance for several years and has been a junior member at Magic Castle in Hollywood since March 2015. As an actor, he has performed on stage in Ordinary DaysPride & Prejudice and 12 Angry Jurors. Two short films that he was part of recently had their LA area premieres.

Dane Jamieson (Jack) is a high school freshman who enjoys playing drums, video games, and acting on stage and screen. His most recent roles include Young Prince William in the May 2018 biopic on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and Zach in the TV movie My Best Friend. He has done voice over work for Samsung and Google and had a small role in a cinematic for Halo 5.

Degas Viena (Chambers) is a first-year film major at California State University, Long Beach. He's been modeling since he was three, and an actor since his freshman year in high school. His most recent role was the lead in the short film "Ghosts of Anbar," which premiered at the IFS Los Angeles Film Festival 2018. He enjoys writing and producing his own films and plans to expand his studies to include acting at the university level next year.

Demi Viena (Haven) is in 8th grade and enjoys dance, cheer, modeling, acting, and musical theatre. Her most recent print jobs were for Justice where she is currently visible in store, online and on video. She recently made High School JV cheerleading, is a first soprano in her musical theatre group, and has been technically trained in dance since age 4. She has studied acting for 5 years and has had supporting roles in several independent films. Most recently she was the lead in a dramatic short film, “The Nightingale.”

Grace Brianne Stedman (Ivy) began performing in musical and youth theatre at the age of 9 but has recently turned her attention to acting for the camera. She grew up in a very musical home which fostered her love for singing and songwriting. Recently she filmed an appearance on the Brats production “Chicken Girls,” and just completed shooting an international Walmart commercial for the World Cup 2018. 

Grace Wilcox (Emily) is 14 years old and attends Orange County School of the Arts, as a member of the Acting Conservatory. Recent theater credits include The CrucibleOur Town, and a Regional production of Oklahoma. Grace’s on-camera credits include the award-winning film, “Burning Angel Dust,” YouTube videos for Lilly Singh, national commercials and music videos. She appears regularly on TV with the Voices of Hope Choir and can be seen this summer on “America’s Got Talent.” Grace was a finalist in the 2018 Nina Cereno Actfest monologue competition. In addition to acting, Grace is trained in pointe ballet, tap and jazz dance.

Kaelah Franklin (Willow) is an actor from Long Beach who loves photography and video production. She is currently learning sign language and does Cheer and Gymnastics in her free time. She has been performing in stage productions since the age of 8 when she appeared in “The Little Mermaid.” She has been pursuing acting professionally for approximately two years.

Kyra Baklayan (Annelise) is a junior at Orange County School of The Arts where she trains in Musical Theater. There she has performed in Performing with the Pros with Ali Stroker and Megan McGinnis, Season Finale at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, and has also assistant directed the high school premiere of Ryan Scott Oliver's, "Jasper In Deadland.” Kyra has also trained with Broadway Artists Alliance and takes on-camera acting with Terri Treas.

Nico Fife (Joe) is a high school senior and will be continuing his theatrical and cinematic education at USC in the fall. He enjoys writing, singing, and doing Improv. Favorite stage roles include Ren McCormack in Footloose, Captain Hook in Peter Pan, and Leaf Coneybear in Spelling Bee. Nico has been acting on the stage for 3 years.  

Olivia Shatsky (Devin) is a 14 years old freshman at Los Alamitos High School. She is a member of the award-winning drama program at the school and is also exploring the sport of Track and Field. Olivia studies acting in her spare time, along with continuous voice lessons. She has appeared in many regional theater productions, with her most recent appearance at the Met Theater in a DBA Studios Production of Blackbird. Olivia's other roles include the role of Bailey in "Fishnet," a short film for the American film Institute, and Molly in "Maggie Smith Is Gone" for the USC Film School.

Bethany Price (Producer/Director) has been writing, directing, and teaching in and around theatres for more than 30 years. She received her BA in Theatre Arts – Acting and Directing from California State University, Long Beach. Most recently, she directed “Ordinary Days” at the Long Beach Playhouse.

Expectations High performs Saturday, June 9th at 1pm & 4pm, Sunday, June 10th at 4:30pm, Wednesday, June 20th at 7pm and Thursday, June 21st at 7pm at the Other Space in the Actors Company complex of theatres. The Actors Company is located at 916 N. Formosa Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90046. Tickets for the performances are $10 and are available at HollywoodFringe.Org. Ample Street Parking.

More information on Expectations High and its cast can be found at