Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Clear Night 54° Clear
News >  Voices

Buccaneers ahoy!

Ferris High School Principal Erik Ohlund has been kidnapped. As Ferris parents prepared for Ham on Regal’s show “Pirate Parody,” they received word that Ohlund had been taken by pirates. Apparently the pirates were upset that the Ham on Regal players were making fun of them. The pirates are demanding a ransom of 50,000 clams and want the show canceled. The parents will continue their search for Ohlund, with plans to travel to Gilligan’s Island, the Bermuda Triangle and Survivor Island to rescue him

.

This is the plot of the 42nd annual Ham on Regal production, a Parent Teacher Group event that has raised more than $900,000 for the school over the past 41 years. Proceeds help pay for academic materials, equipment and extracurricular activities for Ferris students.

The show has been a part of the Ferris culture since the school opened. Its first show was a hootenanny, held in the fall of 1963. Every year since, Ferris parents have let their inner-actors loose, singing and dancing their way into “Ham” history.

Matt and Cheryl Elisara and Jay and Tammy Babbitt are lead organizers for this year’s show. This is Matt Elisara’s ninth year as a Ham on Regal player, his third year as a Ferris staff member and his sixth year as a parent. At 6-foot-3 and 290 pounds, Elisara, a former Washington State University defensive lineman who played in the National Football League, makes a formidable song and dance man.

“I like the singing and dancing – that’s my favorite part,” Elisara said.

“I also like the philosophy of it. It’s a way for parents to get involved, to get to know each other and to get to know the staff and administration.

“The teachers perform every year. They have their own dance line in the show. This is also a good initiation for our new principal, Erik Ohlund, a way to welcome him to Ferris High School and the community,” Elisara said.

“When my boys were young and before we got into Ham on Regal, I associated with football parents, basketball parents and track parents. When I became involved with Ham on Regal, I got to know band parents, choir parents, and debate parents, parents that I normally wouldn’t have a chance to associate with,” Elisara said.

“It gives me a different perspective about what this community is all about.”

To be in the Ham on Regal cast, you must have a student at Ferris or be a member of the Ferris staff. When a parents’ last child graduates from Ferris, they graduate from Ham on Regal. This turnover allows for fresh ideas and new talent each year.

More than 250 parents put in thousands of hours to create the show. Not everyone is willing to take the stage, but those who don’t help out with behind-the-scenes work, stage design and construction, props, sound, lighting, costumes and advertising.

Tryouts and rehearsals begin in early January and continue twice a week through March.

“It’s the best of what parents will do for their kids and their school,” said Linda Petri, a parent working on publicity. “You have these parents on stage who are just so amazing, singing and dancing.

“These are parents who go to work during the day and rush over to the school at night to rehearse.”

There are 42 committees involved with the show. Jay Babbitt said that thanks to those that have gone before him, the process runs smoothly.

“It’s an amazing thing that has developed over 42 years,” he said. “Every committee chair has a book that gets passed down. They know what has worked in the past and what hasn’t,” Babbitt said.

“There’s a huge amount of talent in this group; everybody has their own expertise. If you pick the right people to be in the right groups, it pretty much takes on a life of its own by January.”

Script writers began working on this year’s show last April.

“I helped the script committee at first, and to walk into the Ferris library and see this big blank white board is overwhelming. We just started throwing ideas up there,” Babbitt said.

“Going from that to being able to put on a full stage production is an amazing thing to see,” he said.

There’s a tradition at Ferris: Each year, the cast of parents does a special performance for the students, and students from the senior class join their parents on stage at the end of the show to sing “Once a Year Day.”

“This is our once-a-year day, once-a-year day. Everyone’s entitled to be wild, be a child, be a goof, raise the roof, once a year.”

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.