Seven members of the Payson High School Drama Club recently returned from "an absolutely incredible experience" a nine-day theater-study tour of London, said Meghan Lower.
Accompanied by PHS drama teachers John and Kathy Siler and parents Steve and Judy Perham, the group attended five plays and toured the rebuilt Globe Theatre and Drury Lane Theatre in Covent Garden.
"Everywhere you turn in England, something very important in history happened, so the kids were just overwhelmed by all of this," John Siler said.
The Globe Theatre, rebuilt two years ago as an exact replica of the facility where Shakespeare's plays were originally performed, was especially impressive, he said.
"The kids watched 'King Lear' standing in the pit, just as the commoners did in Shakespeare's time," Siler said.
While pit tickets were only $5, he said he would opt for the area of the theatre that has seats next time. "That's a long time to be on your feet."
Lower also felt the Globe experience was a highlight.
"It was interesting how the actors actually came right through the audience," she said.
Other plays the students attended included "The Lion King;" "My Fair Lady," starring Jonathan Pryce, who played the bad guy in "Tomorrow Never Dies;" and the new Andrew Lloyd Weber show, "A Beautiful Game."
The students also toured Stratford-Upon-Avon, Shakespeare's home town, and took in a number of non-theatrical historical sites, including the Tower of London, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's Cathedral and Buckingham Palace. Other sidetrips included Stonehenge, Bath and Greenwich, where they were able to stand on the international timeline.
In addition to Lower, the students who attended were Laura and Randy Perham, Meghan Lower, Nicole Neff, Nicole Cahill, Andrew Steedman and Holly Lane. Each had to raise $1,800 plus spending money.
"We did lots of group things to help raise money, like dances and yard sales," Siler said. "And, of course, there were some private donations."
He said London was chosen over New York or Los Angeles because "it is much safer, and there is as much or more theater. Besides, it didn't cost all that much more."
And then there is the history. "There's 3,000 years of recorded history there," he said, " everything from ancient Romans to Celts to Druids."
Besides "almost" getting lost with Steve Perham on the first day, Siler said the trip, organized by Breakaway Tours, went smoothly.