Sierra Canyon junior Eugene Reicher was in the midst of another captivating performance in Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, thriving in the role of Guildenstern in a play where the language is complex, and the emotions are raw. As the play progresses, the characters Guildenstern and Rosencrantz are swayed by the promise of money and power to deceive Hamlet at the king’s behest. Ultimately, when their inevitable doom becomes apparent, Sierra Canyon actress Maddie Nellis ‘22—as Rosencrantz—delivered a frantic and passionate monologue trying to justify their actions and accept their fate. During her discourse, an emotional Reicher pulled his hat over his face, extrapolating a truly genuine moment at the most critical juncture.
“It was a simple gesture, but it was so touching, it made you gasp,” says Dr. Julianne De Sal, Sierra Canyon’s Director of Arts. “Eugene’s so good, genuine. He’s true and honest onstage. He is able to tap into that to communicate another human’s sensitivity so well. Incredible self-awareness. The fact that a young person can do this is so amazing.”
That is part of Reicher’s gift.
Reicher is establishing himself as a dynamic actor in the Sierra Canyon community and as a standout student on the fast-track to becoming a doctor. Ultimately, Reicher earned the role of Sierra Canyon’s #StudentFirst award, which recognizes excellence in and out of the classroom.
His process is simple yet eloquent.
“It starts with reading the material really well,” Reicher says. “Then I think about it, but sometimes I over-analyze it, so I try to pull back and do what feels natural. Everyone in the cast is great. It’s about reacting and listening to the other people in the cast and responding to their energy as much as they respond to yours.”
Reicher has been racking up the credits since his first Sierra Canyon production, Into The Woods, in 7th Grade. His list of performances includes 12 Angry Jurors, Spelling Bee, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Crucible, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, and Almost Maine.
“It’s kind of funny. When I was younger, I didn’t want to act, but my mom pushed me into it in 4th Grade,” says Reicher, who is also an adept pianist. “It was Charlotte’s Web at Woodland Hills Private School. I just sort of stuck with it.”
Reicher has won competitions as a pianist. He also participated in De Sal’s 24-hour Play Project that was student-run—from the writing, directing, and acting. “I wrote and directed,” he says. “I was given a prompt and a week to write. I wanted to try something new. Thinking about it, I haven’t done a lot of comedies. I remember reading Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, and Arthur Miller. They understand human emotions and relationships so well.”
Reicher maintains a 4.63 grade point average in a schedule stacked with Advanced Placement and honors courses. He has been named to the prestigious Head of School list every year since his freshman year. He captured the Computer Science Award in his sophomore year. He was accepted magna cum laude in the National Honors Society. Maybe the most telling aspect of Reicher as a student was his decision to pursue Scientific Research Methods, designed to help students conduct research projects.
“Usually, you have to convince kids to take this class, because it is not part of the curriculum or a requirement, but Eugene came to me and wanted to take it,” Sierra Canyon Science Teacher Jessica Ricci says. She adds that only two students are enrolled in Science Research Methods this year. It is one-on-one mentoring, meeting virtually due to the pandemic. Reicher decided to conduct a survey exploring how adolescents have responded to the pandemic.
“He’s got a total science mind,” says Ricci. “He thinks like a scientist, and he thinks about how [the pandemic] impacts others.”
Reicher says he developed 18 questions and asked 500 students to take the survey.
“I tried to make it short, and I tried to change up the question types, so it is not too time-consuming. I am still collecting the data, but what struck me was that I did not realize the extent of the mental health issues that students have, and it’s worse in the pandemic.”
He is wide open in terms of the college selection process but says he has known he has wanted to become a doctor since he was young. Reicher comes from a long line of doctors. His mother, Sonya, is a gastrologist. His maternal grandparents are scientists who studied the pancreas and pancreatic cancer. His paternal grandmother was a dentist.
“I’ve been inspired by my mom and my other family members in science,” Reicher says. “I’ve always heard my mom’s stories. She always says MD stands for making decisions, and her ability to make big decisions is really inspiring.”
Reicher has volunteered at the West Los Angeles VA, helping research pancreatic cancer like his grandparents. He had plans to volunteer at a hospital and nursing home before the pandemic. “He definitely cares about people,” Ricci says. “You would think that would be a prerequisite for doctors, but a lot of doctors don’t have that focus. Eugene has it. He’s very caring, and he takes a lot of initiative.”
De Sal says Reicher’s acting and his ability to connect with people will carry into his medical field. “He would be an amazing human contact for any patient,” De Sal says. “He has compassion without feeling like he has to show it and empathy without feeling he needs to suffer. He will look at other human beings and look for a way to help them. He strives to go beyond mediocrity every single day. And he doesn’t do it to get the grade or the mark. He does it to be the best, to be a better person. And he does it for all the right reasons. I’m excited to see where his journey leads him.”
to watch Eugene Reicher’s #StudentFirst video.