LAYTON — One well-known local theater teacher is closing the curtains on his career.
Layton High’s Dennis Ferrin, who has run the school’s theater program for the last 41 years, is saying goodbye. His final musical with the school, the comedic mystery “Curtains,” will run March 7, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15 and 16 at the Layton High theater.
“I want the show to be especially good,” said Ferrin. “I don’t want everyone to think ‘Everything was good up until the end, and then it just fell apart.’”
The Tony Award-nominated musical, which opened on Broadway in 2007, follows a police detective as he tries to figure out who killed the untalented star of a musical titled “Robbin’ Hood of the Old West.” As the bodies pile up, the detective has to make sure he doesn’t end up as one more victim.
Despite the body count, Ferrin said he loves the show for its comedy.
“The detective is secretly obsessed with theater, and everyone else is a wonderful parody of all these stock theater characters,” he said. “The entire show is full of in-jokes and showbiz parodies.”
Ferrin said he was also drawn to the show because of the similarities to “Drowsy Chaperone,” another musical the school recently performed.
“There’s the show-within-a-show aspect, which is always fun,” he said. “And the detective is a lot like the Man in the Chair from ‘Drowsy.’ They’re both theater fans who get swept away.”
It takes a lot of work from the cast and crew to make sure the audience gets swept away as well. The chorus is onstage for the majority of the show, which is a challenge. Both Ferrin and the cast have to make sure that everyone remains busy, interesting, and in character at all times.
“It’s one of the reasons I picked this show,” he said. “Everyone has a really good chance onstage.”
It’s also a good way to involve as many students as possible in his final show. He broke the news of his retirement to the cast first, and he said the reactions have been mixed.
“The seniors, of course, are fine with it,” he said. “They’re pleased to get their last show along with me. The juniors are unhappy, because they don’t know what to expect next year.”
One junior was upset enough that he followed Ferrin out to his car after the announcement.
“He said ‘I’m pretty mad at you,’” remembers Ferrin. “I told him, ‘That’s okay. Be mad, then come back and do your best.”
He is sure that those juniors, and all of the students who come after them, will be able to do the same.
“We have a good history, and they can be pretty proud of it,” said Ferrin. “I think they’ll do fine without me.”
Not that it will be easy to say goodbye.
“I’ll miss it,” he admitted. “But I’m at the end of the road.”
For tickets or more information, call the Layton High box office at 801-402-4888.