In her eight years directing and producing for Seaside High School's drama program, Lenore Morrison has seen the positive impact that theater can have on students.

"It does build a real sense of community, and it is a team," Morrison said. "You depend on each other."

Morrison has depended on Seaside students to star in and work backstage in the high school's two annual plays. In the spring, the students generally stage a musical. But the fall means comedy.

"We always try to do something funny," Morrison said. "We've done a lot of farces."

But this year, Morrison has selected "The Pink Panther Strikes Again," a play written by William Gleason and adapted from the famous film starring Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau.

"I just started reading this, and it just seemed like a fun one to do," Morrison said.

The high school's production will open Nov. 8 with subsequent shows on Nov. 8, 9, 14, 15 and 16, all at the high school auditorium.

Morrison plans to set the play in the the 1960s or 1970s, the era during which the movie is set. For "The Pink Panther," the emphasis will be less on the set and more on the costumes.

"The set is minimal, but the costumes will be the hard part," Morrison said.

Morrison has enlisted the help of numerous community members to pitch in to create the costumes for the fall play.

Seaside High School graduate Clare McEwan, who studied theater at Montclair State University in Montclair, N.J., will bring the costuming experience she's gained in college.

"For her senior project she had to costume a show," Morrison said. McEwan will join some current Seaside High students, who will costume the show as part of a newly formed costume club on campus.

Morrison certainly appreciates the help in both costuming "The Pink Panther Strikes Again" and the backstage help of stagehands and set designers.

"It's a big effort to bring a play to the stage," she said.

But for Morrison, the long hours and all the effort are worth it.

"I do love the process of theater," she said. "You take this piece of paper, and you bring it to life, to three dimensions."

Morrison first got involved in theater after moving to Cannon Beach, where she produced the summer season for the Coaster Theatre for three years.

Since she started producing plays, Morrison has always believed in the abilities of her actors – even students who are just learning the ropes.

"My approach to theater is to sit back and let them get used to being on a stage," she said.

And, in her experience, that investment pays big dividends for both her and the students.

"Working with the students, you see tremendous growth in them," Morrison said. "There's really nothing like the theater."

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