expectations high

By Teens. For Teens
(and anyone who's ever been a teen)


By Teens. For Teens. 
(Or anyone who's been a teen) - Expectations High



It started with a group of young teen (and pre-teen) actors who journeyed up from the far reaches of Long Beach and Orange County to support some of their fellow acting students in hard-hitting dramas produced in black box theatre Los Angeles. They were excited and inspired by what they experienced and wanted a chance to do it themselves. Thus - in the spring of 2017, the Hollywood Fringe Project in the Take the Stage Long Beach Working Pro Class was begun. The goal was set - the creation of a play from scratch. Conceive it, write it, rehearse it and present it in Hollywood Fringe Festival 2018.


There was a great deal of discussion about what these young actors wanted to explore. Topics ranged from body image, suicide, sexual abuse, drugs, bullying - these Disney-style film, animation, commercial, and musical theatre veteran performers wanted to challenge themselves and their audiences with topics they weren't generally able to explore in their professional work and their current high school performance opportunities. Over the course of six months, they began to lay the ground work for 13 very different, very specific characters and to flesh out their stories. 


script complete

By January 2018 - working just one day a week - these 13 talented storytellers had created iconic and individual people whose stories now needed not only to be told, but to intertwine. And a setting was decided upon - largely because of the time and production constraints imposed by the fringe format. Each scene takes place in the walkways of a Southern California public high school. The only characters we see during the play are the 13 created by the cast. Scenes take place before and after school. During passing periods or at lunch. Much like the Peanuts cartoons or comics, the voices of family, teachers or any other adults are absent or unintelligible. By the end of March 2018, the first draft was finished.

fringe on the horizon

Shifting from playwright/dramaturg/ improv artist into actor wasn't always an easy transition. But once the fourth draft was agreed upon and printed and handed out, it was time to begin production preparation. Rehearsals meet more frequently than once a week now; Tickets are on sale at HollywoodFringe.org; the idea that began a year ago with a baker's dozen of young actors is now tangible. 

Join us on our journey through the rumor, humor, drama and trauma that was, is, and (probably) always will be high school and puberty - a frustrating, exciting, unpredictable, and important part of growing up.

Backs to Audience.jpg

performance dates

Expectations High had a great run in June 2019
at the Actors Company (Other Space Theater) in
Hollywood (Duh!)

No other performances are currently planned.

The Cast of Expectations High


Abby Young - Jill

Abby Young is a sophomore at Los Alamitos High School where she is a part of the improv team and the national award-winning show choir. This year was their first undefeated season. Abby loves performing onstage. Some of her recent roles include the Wizard in the Wizard of Oz and Jill Scott in High School Musical. She is thankful for all of the performances opportunities she has had and is excited for many more. 


Jill is a senior in high school and is excited to have a perfect senior year! She has been on ASB all throughout high school, and is happy to be president this year with her best friend, Annelise, as vice president. Though her middle school years were rough, high school has been great for her and she is glad that senior year will (hopefully) be a walk in the "popular" park. 

Ava Tomassini.jpg

Ava Tomassini - Vivienne

Ava Tomassini is an 8th Grader who enjoys acting and dancing on stage and screen, and hanging out with her friends. Her most recent roles on stage include playing Gloria in Bye Bye Birdie and a movement artist in Ordinary Days.  She has acted in background roles on TV's The Middle and Kidding, starring Jim Carrey. A naturally energetic performer since she was enrolled in gymnastics at the age of 3, Ava plans on continuing to showcase her acrobatic and performance background on television, stage and at charity events as she begins high school this fall.


Vivienne is a middle schooler and Haven's best friend. She is a caring, selfless girl who is yet to understand the situations that she innocently faces. Her tendencies are to take matters into her own hands. Being stubborn is a quality she is very well known for. She may seem bold at times, but it's all with good intentions.


Benen Falkner - Barry

Benen is a sophomore in Millikan High school in Long Beach, and enjoys playing guitar, video games, and hanging out with friends. He recently performed in a music concert for On Stage Music Academy, as well as various musicals for Yaya’s performance academy as a young child. He is now working on a cartoon series, as well as working on creating a music group.

Barry has been left behind in California after a 3rd grade field trip from Idaho, or so he thinks at one point in his sophomore year. Barry’s mind and mouth are full of fantasies and unusual wanderings. But Barry won’t let it stop him from helping, or at least trying to, others with their problems. He’s unpredictable, but he’ll eventually get people to appreciate him.


Damian Santana - Vince

Damian is a high school senior and plans on attending California State University Long Beach next year to study film. He has been studying acting and performance for several years, and has been a junior member at Magic Castle in Hollywood since March 2015. As an actor, he has performed on stage in Ordinary Days, Pride & Prejudice and 12 Angry Jurors. Two short films that he was part of recently had their LA area premieres. He is very interested in directing.


Vince is recovering from a career-ending shoulder injury that sidelined him after years of leading his football teams as their game-winning QB. He's now searching for a fall back plan and determined to still go to college, but where and to study what are big questions now that football isn't in the picture anymore. The last thing he wants is to get involved with a high school girl and complicate things more. But then Ivy moves to his school.

Dane Jamieson - 2018.jpg

Dane Jamieson - Jack

Dane Jamieson is a high school freshman who enjoys playing drums, video games, and acting on stage and screen. His most recent roles include Young Prince William in the May 2018 biopic on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and Zach in the TV movie My Best Friend. He has done voice over work for Samsung and Google, and had a small role in a cinematic for Halo 5. He has been acting on stage since the age of 4 and plans to continue performing and storytelling for the rest of his life.


Jack has embraced his inner marching band geek and turned his back on what (his sister is convinced) could be a promising athletic legacy. He enjoys school but discovered during his freshman year that being popular or an athlete is simply of no importance to him. He is a pretty easy going guy, but his sister - Jill - brings out the worst in him. 

DDV 032717.jpg

Degas Viena - Chambers

Degas is a first year film major at California State University, Long Beach. He's been modeling since he was three, and an actor since his freshman year in high school. His most recent role was the lead in the short film "Ghosts of Anbar," which premiered at the IFS Los Angeles Film Festival 2018. He enjoys writing and producing his own films, and plans to expand his studies to include acting at the university level next year.


Chambers is in his senior year and can't wait to get out of school and out of town. He spent the summer working offshore on an oil rig, and probably wouldn't have come back if it wasn't for his sister, Haven. She's the only family he considers family. He never knew his father and his mother is an alcoholic nut job who used to take her frustrations out on him until he got big enough to defend himself. He believes he wouldn't have made it through high school or life if it wasn't for his best friend, Vince. Vince's family took Chambers in when he had no where else to go.

DYV SU17.jpeg

Demi DeVoux - Haven

Demi is in 8th grade and enjoys dance, cheer, modeling, acting, and musical theatre. Her most recent print jobs were for Justice where she is currently visible in store, online and on video. She recently made High School JV cheerleading, is a first soprano in her musical theatre group, and has been technically trained in dance since age 4. She has studied acting for 5 years and has had supporting roles in several independent films. Most recently she was the lead in a dramatic short film, “The Nightingale.”


Haven is an 8th grader struggling to protect herself from an abusive step-father while keeping that abuse from derailing her big brother's life and plans. She truly loves and wants what's best for Chambers, the brother who was the target of his mother's alcoholic abuse when he was a young boy and living at home with them. Chambers got out and always felt that he was the problem. He left believing it was the way to keep Haven safe. But Haven is too afraid of what he'll do if she tells him she's still not safe.

Grace Stedman.jpg

Grace Brianne Stedman - Ivy

Grace Brianne Stedman began performing in musical and youth theatre at the age of 9 but fell in love with acting for the camera in her teen acting classes. She grew up in a very musical home which fostered her love for singing and songwriting. Recently she filmed an appearance on the Brats production “Chicken Girls,” and just completed shooting an international Walmart commercial for the World Cup 2018. 


Ivy is a small town girl from Iowa who has moved to California for her senior year. After an almost idyllic childhood in a truly functional home, everything changed for her after losing her mother to cancer. Her father took a new job in California in order to give Ivy the new, fresh start she needs after her mother's death and some unhealthy grieving.


Grace Briella Wilcox - Emily

Grace is 14 years old and attends Orange County School of the Arts, as a member of the Acting Conservatory. Recent theater credits include The Crucible, Our Town, and a Regional production of Oklahoma. Grace’s on-camera credits include the award-winning film, “Burning Angel Dust,” YouTube videos for Lilly Singh, national commercials and music videos. She appears regularly on TV with the Voices of Hope Choir and can be seen this summer on “America’s Got Talent.” Grace was a finalist in the 2018 Nina Cereno Actfest monologue competition. In addition to acting, Grace is trained in pointe ballet, tap and jazz dance.


Emily has been home schooled her entire life, and never worried about pleasing anyone except her parents. Now, at twelve years old, her academic high-achievement has granted her the opportunity to enter high school as a sophomore. For the first time, she faces a new reality where status matters, social cues are confusing, and book smarts aren’t always enough.


Kaelah Nicole Franklin - Willow

Kaelah Franklin is an actor from Long Beach who loves photography and video production. She is currently learning sign language and does Cheer and Gymnastics in her free time. She has been performing in stage productions since the age of 8 when she appeared in “The Little Mermaid.” She has been pursuing acting professionally for approximately two years. 


Willow is a former gymnast and a YouTube creator. She enjoys science and stunting. She is independent but doesn’t always know what’s good for her and what’s not. She loves the attention her videos bring her online. The indifference of her family - particularly her parents - has left her vulnerable in ways she doesn't always understand. 

Kyra Baklayan.jpg

Kyra Baklayan - Annelise

Kyra Baklayan is a junior at Orange County School of The Arts where she trains in Musical Theater. There she has performed in Performing With The Pros with Ali Stroker and Megan McGinnis, Season Finale at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, and has also assistant directed the high school premiere of Ryan Scott Oliver's, "Jasper In Deadland". Kyra has also trained with Broadway Artists Alliance and takes on-camera acting with Terri Treas. She would like to thank Take The Stage LB and everyone who's supported her on this journey!


Annelise is finding her way through junior year by following in the footsteps of her best friend Jill. As Jill’s sidekick, she will do anything to be like her. However, it takes a turn of events for Annelise to realize that being her best self must come through honesty. 


Nico Fife - Joe

Nico Fife is a high school senior, and is very excited to be continuing his education at USC in the fall. He enjoys writing, singing, and doing Improv.  Some of his favorite stage roles have been Ren McCormack in Footloose, Captain Hook in Peter Pan, and Leaf Coneybear in The 25th...Spelling Bee.Nico has been acting on the stage for 3 years, but plans on continuing pursuing acting both on stage and on screen for the rest of his life.  

Joe is a high school junior, and a quiet but active member of the Physics Club on campus. He doesn’t know where he would be without his best friend, Willow, who he makes YouTube Rube Goldberg machines with. Joe does not like conflict, but gets involved when he feels he needs to, and he’s always looking out for his friends, even when their ego is built too high, because he knows the fall is extremely hard. 


Olivia Shatsky - Devin

Olivia Shatsky is a 14 years old freshman at Los Alamitos High School. She is a member of the award-winning drama program at the school, and is also exploring the sport of Track and Field. Olivia studies acting in her spare time, along with continuous voice lessons. She has appeared in many regional theater productions, with her most recent appearance at the Met Theater in a DBA Studios Production of Blackbird. Olivia's other roles include the role of Bailey in "Fishnet," a short film for the American film Institute, and Molly in "Maggie Smith Is Gone" for the USC Film School. She is interested in TV and Film, but also enjoys theater.


Devin is a Junior and enjoys editing and filming Willow's videos to post on Youtube. Devin, however, has an underlying desperation, and can take these videos too far. Devin has always been different from the rest of her family, and can tell they are uncomfortable - even ashamed of her. She is constantly compared to her big brother, now a star football-playing, college student. Because of her sense of invisibility at home, she becomes manipulative and is feared around the campus.