WKHS News | By Kilbourne, For Kilbourne

WKHS News | By Kilbourne, For Kilbourne

WKHS News | By Kilbourne, For Kilbourne

James Tolbert


The Ravine is excited to highlight this week’s Wolf of the Week, James Tolbert. He has been involved in the arts since 2015, and currently, he can be found in technical jobs such as probs, costume, and business. Some of his previous roles include The Wizard of Oz, King Triton, and Doctor Rank. Tolbert described how “[He has] always been drawn towards the characters and stories inside plays and musicals. The deep lore in the texts is rich, full of diverse ideas of plots and characterization.” Most recently, James has been the main character, Conrad Birdie, in the WKHS Theater’s latest play, Bye Bye Birdie

Despite his previous experience, Tolbert mentioned how his most recent Bye Bye Birdie role was quite challenging. “The most challenging aspect I find is becoming a character. To find out the exact way they walk, stand, smile, and laugh; the small inflections in each syllable; and the rheumatic way they talk. All of those aspects should be analyzed deeply to bring life to this character,” Tolbert explains. 

Tolbert in character with girls fawning over him



The persona of Conrad Birdie is very close to that of Elvis, following a similar storyline to his life, including being drafted for the war at the height of his fame. Playing a character of such popularity comes with a lot of pressure, as everyone knows how it “should” be played. To prepare for this, Tolbert “watched footage of Elvis dancing and singing. . . And even watched some of his first few movies to study his mannerisms.”



Another thing that helped him immerse himself into the pop star mindset was his peers, Tolbert mentioned. “The theater department allowed me to build this character up from nothing. My castmate’s reactions to what my character did allowed me to know how much of an ego my character would have. They really helped put me in my character’s headspace.” 

Tolbert dancing alongside castmate

His character and overall assistance in Bye Bye Birdie allowed it to be a huge success, with many WKHS students going to view a sample of the play during the school day. Numerous people also went out to see the play during the weekend showings. 

For the future, Tolbert announced that “[He] definitely [is] set to return to theater for Kilbourne next year. After high school, I’d still love to continue to take opportunities that would allow me to still create these characters.” Apart from theater, he is involved with the cross-country team, track team, and choir. The Ravine is excited to see what roles he continues to take on in the future, and can’t wait to see all the amazing things he will do!


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Emma Radick
Emma Radick, Writer

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