It has all the makings of a typical high school production, with scripts, costumes, lights, choreography and a live band, but Ferris High School’s Ham on Regal is no ordinary show.
Now in its 55th year, Ham on Regal is a parent-organized and -performed production that aims to raise money for school programs.
This year’s Ham on Regal opens Sunday and runs through March 17 at Ferris High School.
Ham on Regal, a play on ham on rye, began in 1963, the combined effort of two parent-teacher groups.
Since then, the title of every Ham on Regal show has featured some mention of pigs or hogs. Past themes include “Hamalot” (1980), “Jurassic Pork” (1985), “MayHam at the Museum” (2009) and last year’s “When Pigs Fly!”
This year’s theme is “The Wizard of Hogz,” taking audiences down the yellow brick road with a series of skits that each represent a month of the year.
In between the “Saturday Night Live”-style skits, parents will sing and dance.
Parent Judi Rabensteiner, who also handles publicity for Ham on Regal, will play Eunice Harper, a character made famous by Carol Burnett on “The Carol Burnett Show” and “Mama’s Family,” in this year’s show.
In her first show, Rabensteiner played “Baba Wawa,” a parody of Barbara Walters; last year, she played a Conehead from the “Saturday Night Live” skits.
“It’s a combination of things that are easily recognized by people if they watched movies and TV and read books,” she said. “There’s a lot of characters like that but there’s also a lot of local references.”
One skit, for instance, pits a WSU family against a UW family on “Family Feud.”
More than 250 parents are involved with Ham on Regal, both on and off stage, helping with everything from writing the script and creating costumes and set pieces to selling advertising and tickets.
“Whether or not you’re out there in the front dancing or singing or whatever, it doesn’t matter,” Rabensteiner said. “Everybody’s contribution helps put the whole thing together.”
Throughout the years, Ham on Regal has raised more than $1.7 million, all of which benefits Ferris students and organizations.
“There’s no program at Ferris High School that is not touched by this show,” Rabensteiner said. “Everything from band to athletics to debate. Every club, every organization that the students are able to participate in gets something from this, whether it’s new uniforms or money to travel.”
But Rabensteiner said students aren’t the only ones who benefit from Ham on Regal.
“It’s a lot of work and it consumes you for the months of January, February and early March, but it’s such a payoff in terms of friendship and community and knowing that kids are benefiting from us doing all of this,” she said. “We’re not just doing it for fun. There’s a real purpose behind it.”