• Henry Ballard
  • North Springs Charter High School, senior
Assistant Director and writer Henry Ballard with North Springs' Drama/film teacher Steve Young at final rehearsals for Evelyn Evelyn.
Assistant Director and writer Henry Ballard with North Springs’ Drama/film teacher Steve Young at final rehearsals for Evelyn Evelyn.

What sets the musical Evelyn Evelyn apart is not just its storyline or the fact that it is based on an album. What distinguishes the show is that it was written by North Springs Charter High student Henry Ballard.

Henry, a senior in the performing arts magnet program at the high school, spent most of this past summer working on the script, and writing back and forth with director and North Springs teacher Steve Young.

The show premiered in January. It was based on an album of songs by duo Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley. The score for the show was put together by Henry’s fellow North Springs senior Danny Marmer.

“I have been born and raised in theater, so I imagine everything on stage,” said Henry, who also worked as assistant director of the show. “The way the story [of Evelyn Evelyn] was built on the album made it easy to translate over, and I thought of the different images I saw on stage as I listened to the music. Then I thought, why not actually do it, instead of just thinking about it?”

The play tells the story of Evelyn and Evelyn Neville, conjoined twin sisters, and victims of various misfortunes. Through music, writing and performing their hit album, they find the strength to overcome a frightful past.

Henry’s work won praise from his director and teacher.

“Henry is stellar; he is very involved in what he wants to do in life, which is one of the reasons he was allowed to even start pursuing this in the first place,” said Young, who has taught at North Springs for 14 years. “He is a great student and a great kid.”

Henry hopes his experience writing Evelyn Evelyn will lead to more plays that will attract young audiences.

“I want to start really reinventing theater in a way that appeals to my generation, and to make theater more accessible to the masses, because the more live theater I go out to see, the more I notice that 70 percent of the audience is in their 70s,” said Ballard. “My generation has the instant gratification complex and wants the ‘Netflix’ appeal, and they want it instantly and that is really hard to do with theater.”

In the spring, he will stage manage the last of North Springs’ three annual productions, and has done building and lighting work for other productions in the past. To Henry, being part of theater is its own lifestyle.

This year, he is part of the teen ambassador program at Theatrical Outfit in downtown Atlanta. The program draws two seniors from each area high school, and includes free shows and workshops with professionals.

Off of the stage, Henry enjoys biking and playing the ukulele and ocarina, a wind instrument. He also attends the annual Highland Games at Stone Mountain and Grandfather Mountain with his family. “I am very involved in my Scottish heritage,” said Henry. “You can often see me in a kilt.”

The games, which Henry describes as a mini Scottish Olympics, involve everything from sheep herding to a caber toss. “It is good camping, good music and good fun, and I get to meet up with a lot of my family there.”

What’s Next:

Henry plans to attend the University of North Carolina School of the Arts next year. He intends to major in design and production, with a concentration in stage management. Down the road, he would like to operate his own theater company.

This article was prepared by Mollie Simon, a senior at Chamblee Charter High School.