End of an Era at Encinal High School

 

Tomorrow, Friday, April 15, will be the opening night for Annie at Encinal High School (EHS), but it also marks the end of one of the most remarkable teaching careers on this island. Thirty-two years ago, Bob Moorhead joined the staff at EHS as the drama teacher and director, and with Annie he takes a deserved final bow. 

Over the past three decades Bob has directed comedies, dramas and some of the finest musicals from the American songbook. He’s done classical works (West Side Story, Kiss Me Kate, and My Fair Lady) but has also showed great courage and ambition being among the first schools in the country to perform Les Miserables, Cats and Rent. 

Supported by his dancer-choreographer wife Amy, Bob has taught thousands of performers to sing and dance and celebrate. What’s been special about those many shows are the many students who, having had little or no stage experience, were encouraged by their director to take a chance and perform for their peers and families. 

Bob leaves behind many legacies, but perhaps the most marvelous are the traditions of inclusion and diversity he cultivated. 

It should be noted that all this great art was created under often challenging circumstances. EHS does not have its own theater, and so the shows have taken place on a stage in the cafeteria and one in the gym. Sharing space with cheerleaders, volleyball, basketball and badminton teams has been difficult, but never deterred Bob and his actors. Bob has also been a leader backstage by setting aside his script and replacing it with a hammer and saw. Actors, members of the stage crew, parents, the director and his dad created the sets for all the shows. 

This past Saturday’s all-day tech rehearsal is a perfect example of the challenges and triumphs of Bob Moorhead, director extraordinaire. While the actors were rehearsing on the stage, and the stage crew was finishing painting the sets, a group of basketball players were running drills on the court. It wasn’t quite euphonious, but the dribbling and construction noise somehow blended with the glorious voices sounding from the stage. 

I am going to set aside my journalistic objectivity for this paragraph and share that I have been blessed to be a colleague of Bob’s for the past 20 years. As a fellow director he’s been my mentor, and as the father of two actors who have performed for Bob, I have witnessed his passion, his wonderful sense of humor and his love for young people. Encinal, and Alameda, are better, more joyous places because of Bob Moorhead. 

Starting this Friday, April 15, and continuing on April 16, 21, 22 and 23, you have a chance to help celebrate his teaching and directing career by coming out to see Annie. For ticket information call 748-4023, ext. 2701.

 

Gene Kahane is a teacher at Encinal High School.