(photo by Photo Courtesy Ethan Corn)

MONTANA AVE — The Santa Monica High School baseball team’s season may be over, but senior first baseman Ethan Corn still has some performing left to do.

This time, however, he won’t be fielding groundballs or tagging out opposing runners. Instead, Corn will look on as “Barnabus & Bella” — a musical comedy filmed entirely in Latin — premieres Sunday at the Aero Theatre.

Directed by Corn, the film follows the story of a young man as he adjusts to attending a new high school — all while singing and conversing in Latin.

English subtitles will accompany the dialogue, but the mere use of the ancient language makes the production a novelty.

“When you tell somebody that you’re doing a Latin musical, one, they don’t believe that,” Corn said.

What may be even harder to believe, though, are the many and varied talents of the director himself.

Corn, whose father is a noted director and producer, isn’t your typical film enthusiast. He also happens to be a standout athlete. Just last week, he earned 2010 First-Team All-Ocean League honors as a member of the Vikings baseball team.

But, that’s not the only place Corn is getting noticed.

Latin teacher Luke Henderson said he has seen Corn distinguish himself in multiple disciplines.

“Ethan is a very special student,” said Henderson, who composed the music score for “Barnabus & Bella” and plays a supporting role in the film. “He’s one of the top few that I can think of in my whole career that have been just so excellent at so many things.”

In addition to film, baseball and Latin, Corn sings in Samohi’s choir and has been the lead in several school musicals, including a recent rendition of “Rent.”

“He has athletics, academics, fine arts. I would say that pretty much defines him, as a renaissance man,” Henderson added.

But amid all these interests and pursuits, film has become Corn’s first choice in terms of a future career.

“I enjoy being around the process of so many people working hard to put on entertainment,” he said. “I like entertaining people. It’s just something about it that attracts me.”

And in his young career, “Barnabus & Bella” qualifies as his most ambitious undertaking yet, running approximately two hours in length and fielding a cast that includes more than a dozen Samohi students.

With help from Henderson and lead actor Zac Geoffray, Corn first developed the idea for a musical comedy last January. Then, during a trip to Europe for a choir tour, Corn and Geoffray handwrote the entire script on the plane.

Despite that being more than a year ago, the trio said it hasn’t seen major changes in the film.

“When we were writing it I had in my mind pretty specific ideas of what I wanted the scenes to end up like,” Geoffray said. “And then looking back on what we actually filmed, how closely it resembles what I thought it would, it’s a testament to how much preparation we put into it and Ethan’s skills as a director.”

Ironically, “Barnabus & Bella” might never have existed, at least not in Latin. Corn admits he originally enrolled in Henderson’s class as a freshman mostly in an attempt to get ahead in baseball.

“For me, it was definitely a political decision because I knew that Henderson was a baseball coach,” Corn said of his teacher, who still helps coach the Vikings’ junior varsity team.

Since then, Corn has grown to appreciate the practicality of Latin.

“It’s cool to see where words come from, and Latin’s sort of the basis of English and a lot of other languages so it’s definitely something good to know,” he said.

Corn isn’t sure if he wants to keep playing baseball after high school. He noted that the club team at New York University, where he is headed in the fall to study film, often has games canceled due to poor weather.

And while he doesn’t yet know exactly what area of film he will eventually go into, he said he hopes to enter college with an “open mind.”

For now, unveiling “Barnabus & Bella” is his main concern. Corn said he is excited to see the product of more than a year’s worth of work go on display.

“To have it all come together over such a long period of time and to finally see it piece together — and just be such a marathon and make it through to the finish line — it’s definitely rewarding,” he said.


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