Cappies’ Reviews Of South Florida High School Theater

cappiesPublishing student reviews of high school theater is the cornerstone of a new service from Florida Theater On Stage and the South Florida Critics and Awards Program, better known as The Cappies.

Now in its 15th year, the Cappies enrolls theatre and journalism students, trains them as critics and assigns them to attend shows at 25 schools in Broward and Palm Beach counties. The student write reviews under the mentorship of teachers and volunteers.

For more information about the Cappies, visit www.cappies.com/sfc/Home.aspx

The most recent reviews will be at the top of the page, but all of them will appear here all year.

 

Reviews of Little Women at Cardinal Gibbons High School on Friday, 3/25/2017.

By Amanda Figueroa of Somerset Academy Arts Conservatory

Based on the 1869 novel by Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, written by Allan Knee, Mindi Dickstein, and Jason Howland, follows the story of four sisters in the late 1800s. Meg, Beth, and Amy are led by the progressive and outspoken Jo, our protagonist, who longs to be a famous writer. With their father away fighting in the Civil War, the show follows the lives and growths of these four sister together and apart. Opening in 2005 on Broadway, the show was headlined by Sutton Foster and closed after a minimal 137 performances.

Cardinal Gibbons High School’s production of Little Women was a constantly endearing and truthful quest through the lives of the March family. With each sister understanding character motivation and playing the whole-hearted truth, the differentiation was stunning and smooth. Especially Emily Tallman, who portrays the eldest sister and protagonist Jo March, was a remarkable talent on stage. Tackling difficult notes and wide range of them, Tallman’s voice was truly spectacular and mesmerizing, while also hitting most of Jo’s various climaxes and downfalls. Elizabeth Bedley, who plays the third sister, Beth March, was enchanting in all her simplistic innocent glory. Tiffany Petus, who plays the pretentious youngest sister Amy March, was perfectly true to the character, being just the right amount of brassy and child-like. Another stand-out cast member was the enchanting Dallas Erwin, who portrays the sister’s “friend”, Laurie Laurence. With an impressive tenor voice and demanding stage presence, Erwin hit every comedic mark, and was also able to have perfect chemistry with both sisters he fell for. Morgan Bailey, who plays the introverted mother of the sisters, was beautiful and powerful in her maternal role, making chemistry between her and her children undeniable.

Although the text of Little Women has frequent set changes due to passage of time, they went unnoticed because of the skill and swiftness of the stage crew on and off stage. Most of the cast understood the passage of time and showed it in their characters, although some it seems stayed the same level throughout the production. With a gorgeous set and time-period appropriate costumes, the setting was established clearly, with the actors cleverly utilizing the set and acting very comfortable with their own home. Hair and makeup were also appropriate to the text, with each sister having a different hairstyle, making differentiation more clear, and with the older women having clear old-age makeup on, although more could have been added as time went on. Another mention-worthy asset to the production was the team of actors in Jo’s storytelling, who did a commendable job of leaving an impression and portraying Jo’s far-fetched stories.

Cardinal Gibbons High School’s production of Little Women did not fail to leave us with a sense of family and hope. They hit the mark on almost all aspects of honesty, setting, and the message this beautiful story conveys. Little Women certainly left the audience wanting to hear more of Jo’s “Blood and Guts stuff.”

*** *** ***

By Maya Quinones of Deerfield Beach High School

Solid like a fortress, the bond of Sisterhood is tight and unshaken by life’s obstacles. Cardinal Gibbons High School explores the contentious Civil War era through the eyes of four sisters in their touching production of Little Women the Musical.

While it may not be up in the ranks of Broadway triumphs (its run maintained a mere 137 performances), Little Women boosted the career of Broadway’s Sutton Foster, earning her a Tony nomination for her portrayal of the fiery and ambitious Jo March. Based on the Louisa May Alcott novel, Little Women places a feminist narrative at the forefront of classic literature, enjoying shelf space with the likes of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. Jason Howland’s music pays homage to the 19th century period, with subtle hints of theatrical flair hidden in the notes. With Mindi Dickstein’s pleasant lyrics and Alan Knee’s book, Little Women the Musical is like an adventure novel combined with a sweet lullaby.

Jo March (Emily Tallman) is unlike your average 19th century gal. She’s fervent, determined, never flinching at the powerful swat of the patriarchal hand. Tallman’s powerful voice was a perfect match for Jo’s powerful personality, anchored in determination and strength. While Jo stands strong independently, her true strength is revealed in solidarity with her three sisters. Delightfully in sync, Elizabeth Bedley (Beth March), Tiffany Pettus (Amy March), and Natalie Perez (Meg March) joined Tallman in delicious harmonies, their chemistry rock solid. Entering the quartet with a commanding voice and a kick of the heels, Dallas Erwin plays Laurie Laurence, Jo’s charming companion. Erwin’s exuberant personality and prominent vocal prowess was truly memorable.

In the midst of success, sorrow is almost inevitable. As Jo’s career as an aspiring novelist soars, life tests her resilience with a painful telegram about her sister. Elizabeth Bedley’s portrayal of Beth March, the kindhearted sister struck with Scarlet Fever was an important one. Bedley brought a tender melancholia to the production, her melodic voice dripping with innocence. Bedley’s vulnerability met Tallman’s strength in their heartbreakingly beautiful duet “Some Things Are Meant To Be”. The vocal clarity and skill of the actors was overall quite impressive, although the difficult range of Howland’s score proved to be a challenge on some actors vocal chords.

The March home stood sturdy in an open set, allowing the audience to peek into the living room and attic of the household. Location changes were distinguished by beautifully designed backdrops, transporting the audience everywhere from a sophisticated ballroom to the seas of Cape Cod. Set changes were swift, the flickering light of the fireplace supporting what would have been a dull blackout. While the frequent use of spotlights tended to be distracting, the scrim lighting provided metaphoric hues of red and orange, heightening the emotion of Jo’s solos. Despite a few inconsistencies, the microphones were successful, allowing the actors to be understood even from our balcony seats.

Little Women encourages us to cherish our kin when the world is against us. The family tree is bursting with life, rooted in a foundation stronger than any war. Cardinal Gibbon’s thoughtful production embraces this sentiment, proving that through love, strength, and determination, anything can be conquered.

*** *** ***

By Coltin Garcia of Palm Beach Central High School

What happens when a family is torn between their ties to each other and taking their own paths? Cardinal Gibbons High School’s production of “Little Women” teaches us to accept growth and change while discovering our destiny.

The musical “Little Women” is based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott, which was originally published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869. The novel was condensed and adapted into a musical making its debut on Broadway in 2005, running from January to May. With the book written by Allan Keene, music by Jason Howland, and lyrics by Mindi Dickstein, “Little Women” is the tale of Jo March’s discovery of the importance of familiar bonds and her learning to adapt to new roles in an ever-changing society. As Jo finds new ways to show that she has what it takes to survive on her own and live “in her own way”, she begins to realize that maybe things could be “Better” if she would take the hands of those who want to help her.

In its entirety, the production was entertaining and surpassed any expectation that I had. Rodrigo, Clarissa, and Braxton drew the entire audience into the stories told by Jo March with a superior level of commitment and high energy. In every number that involved these characters, including “An Operatic Tragedy” and “The Weekly Volcano Press”, the audience could see the imagination of Jo March come to life.

Leading the show as Jo March was Emily Tallman, who’s strong will and vocal power captivated the audience. Beth March, played by Elizabeth Bedley, held the hearts of the audience in her hand as she was able to connect so deeply to her character. Bedley’s delivery of vocals and character showed her while also supporting Tallman in numbers such as “Five Forever” and “Some Things are Meant to Be”. Though there was a lack of build and unmotivated movement throughout the show, the high energy and good chemistry between characters kept the show intriguing to watch.

A standout duo was Tiffany Pettus as Amy March and Dallas Erwin as Laurie Laurence, especially in their duet “The Most Amazing Thing”. Pettus’ character development and growth throughout the show was commendable, especially seeing as she had portrayed a child so well in the beginning. Erwin impressively portrayed two strong relationships throughout the show, one with Tallman and one with Pettus. Along with his chemistry, he was able to hold strong vocals and well thought comedic timing. Giving a sense of comic relief were Spencer Knight as Mr. Laurence and Samantha Mason as Aunt March. The two’s ability to portray older more senile characters helped carry the overall plot and brought laughter to the show where there was much tragedy.

The technical aspects of the show were overall very well done. The set was well used and well managed by very professional stagehands that moved efficiently and quietly. The costumes, hair, and makeup were time period appropriate and the different hairstyles helped to distinguish between the different ages of the sisters. A majority of the props were nicely made and utilized, however there were a few that were seemingly incomplete and/or distracting to the audience. There were also some unnecessary and distracting lighting cues, microphone failures and missed cues that hindered the fluidity of the production.

I’ve not seen much “Better” than Cardinal Gibbons High School’s production of “Little Women” as it showed me that we can all have days of plenty.

*** *** ***

By Cameron Maglio of Deerfield Beach High School

Not even a country divided by civil war could break the bond of the four March sisters. Adapted from Alcott’s novel by the same name, LITTLE WOMEN (book by Allan Knee, lyrics by Mindi Dickstein, and music by Jason Howland) as performed by Cardinal Gibbons explores the everlasting themes of family and love that have been touching the world for over a century.

Playing a feisty ball of energy and drive, Emily Tallman as Jo March brought an undeniable passion to the stage that burst out via her fierce voice. Leaping from the tallest mountains to the lowest valleys her songs conveyed emotion and character with every note. All four sisters formed the emotional core of the show, the heartwarming sorority between them always genuine and honest, in moments of kindness and anger. Amy (Tiffany Pettus) had an astonishing range of acting, elegantly shifting from young to mature, enraged to sorrowful without a pause of disbelief – showcased while burning her sister’s manuscript in Act I, the implications of her actions igniting with each page. Beth (Elizabeth Bedley), the sickly sister, was radiant with sweetness, her touching duet with Jo (“Some Things are Meant to Be”) flying high with sisterly love.

In a show all about women, some men managed to shine too. Laurie Laurence (Dallas Erwin) with his blonde locks and goofy charm managed to form believable romances with two sisters, thankfully at different times. His dreamy voice and amorous excitement made him a love interest for the ages, while never detracting from his awkwardly adorable character. Playing his cranky grandfather, Spencer Knight flawlessly portrayed old age with his hunched, wobbly mannerisms while also showing a softer side with his fatherly relationship with Beth in “Off to Massachusetts.” However, some actors’ notes didn’t reach the mark, this being the precise problem with some of the weaker voices as compared to other vocal powerhouses in the show. Although most actors gave honest performances, some seemed as if their range of emotion jumped to two extremes, rarely finding level ground.

To be blunt, this show had more sets than I thought possible for a stage to hold, ranging from a wedding to the March house. This having been said, each one was executed flawlessly by a cohesive stage crew and attention to detail with every piece. Not only were the transitions smooth, each set transported one to a different time and place without question. Costumes took a time machine back to the 1860’s, with elegant gowns and simple dresses fitting every role. Hair also aided in transporting characters, speedy style changes showing the change of time. Lighting, although adding dimension to the stage, sometimes seemed to limit actors with a semi-restricting spotlight, but no faces ever went dark.

Beyond a few minor grievances, at the heart of the show was the resilient relationship between the March as showcased by all with their genuine sisterly love and enhanced by soul-filled and lovely songs. Just as the original book has managed to stay in our hearts for years, Cardinal Gibbon’s LITTLE WOMEN will do the same for some time to come.
*** *** ***

By Grace Sindaco of Dillard Center for the Arts

“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.” Follow the intricate journeys of the March women and how they coupe with the bumps in their lives at ‘Little Women’ from Cardinal Gibbons High School.  This evoking story leads the audience on the edge of their seats, down a path of the bond between sisters, and the swirls of love and dreams.

Set during the Civil War, ‘Little Women’ offers variety in presenting the dynamics of romantic and familial relationships. Based on the classic Louisa May Alcott novel ‘Little Women’, semi-autobiographical novel, it focuses on the four March sisters, tomboy-like, aspiring writer Jo, hopeless romantic Meg, bratty Amy, and sweet-hearted Beth. Along their adored mother, Marmee, at home in Concord, Massachusetts struggling to keep the family together while the father is away serving in the Union Army.

When the scrim goes up and reveals the house that holds these five women, is the backbone of the set, with the use of backdrops and smaller set pieces to display over 17 different locations, these set changes along with challenging mic and lighting cues were executed impressively.  These are a result of the dedicated stage managing of Laurence Christopher and his crew. Stunning costumes that fit the characters and their time period by Cassis and company, along with the prop team were baronial. With a perfectly casted March family and everyone they interact with, everyone has multiple scenes to shine. Working together seamlessly, with energy that never seems to falter.

The story is centralized around the eldest sister Jo, played by Emily Tallman captured center stage and was eye-catching with her strong acting choices and powerful voice that also blended beautifully with the harmonies of everyone she sang with in numbers such as “Could you,” and “Small Umbrella in the Rain.” The chemistry Tallman upheld which each of the characters on stage was different and distinct as the story goes on. A perfect example would be the interactions with her younger sister Beth (Elizabeth Bedley.) Bedley’s development of Beth with characters such as Jo and Mr. Laurence (Spencer Knight) concluded dolefully with the result of her death.

Aunt March (Samantha Mason), Laurie Lawrence (Dallas Erwin), and Professor Bhaer (Brandon Caradonna) had strong commitment and devotion to their characters that were amped by vocals that matched their characters, and choices by these actors were specific and clean. Mason’s commitment to playing an older strong women is difficult and she rose to the challenge. The posture and acting of her, along with the other characters were shown in the advancement of time throughout this story. Little Women takes place over a span of years and the development of each character, especially in Amy March (Tiffany Pettus) from executing a young girl to a refined eloquent woman.

‘Little Women’ at Cardinal Gibbons High School puts audiences through a gamut of emotions. From the jitteriness of a first ball, to live long dreams coming true, the highs and lows of sickness and death are brought to life through lively characters and a strong focus on the beautifully established live long bond of family.
*** *** ***

Reviews of Harvey at Pompano Beach High School on Friday, 3/10/2017.

By Taylor Briesemeister of The Sagemont School

Is Elwood P. Dowd’s companion a sign of mental illness? A drunken hallucination? Or the star of the show? In Pompano Beach High School’s production of Harvey, we come to find that sanity isn’t the prize to be won and it is those who can’t see the rabbit who should be pitied.

Mary Coyle Chase wrote the show “Harvey” to cheer people up during the war. She was certainly successful because it had become a Broadway hit and she was supposedly paid one million dollars for the rights to the 1950 film version starring James Stewart. It won the 1945 Pulitzer prize for drama, besting The Glass Menagerie.

This production shows Veta (Catherine Hollows) choosing to commit her brother, Elwood, to a mental hospital to cure him of his delusion of a six-foot rabbit he refers to as “Harvey”. The mental hospital turns out to be a mad house and as the mistakes and confusion build up, and everyone is on the hunt for the big bunny and his BFF, it becomes clear that sanity may not be the prize it is made out to be. Elwood P. Dowd, himself, is beautifully embodied by Daniel Llorens. With a child-like innocence, we see that Elwood and Harvey don’t feel sorry for themselves as everyone wishes they would, and they assuredly don’t expect anyone else to feel sorry for them either. If anything, Dowd wonders why people aren’t seeing as clearly as he does. Because, in his eyes, the world is a kinder place when choosing kindness over intelligence.

Dr. Chumley, played by Amorie Barton, augmented his performance with a well delivered and entertaining mental breakdown in the second Act as he too, begins to see Harvey.  Although some actors were not understood as well as others, all seemed to have a personal connection to the show. Some characters that gave a few knee-slappers, such as Mrs. Chauvenet (Taylor Long) and Judge Gaffney (Kenneth Moore), had excellent comedic timing while making complete and utter confusion, seem amusing.

One of the impressive lighting cues that were noticed was an “almost complete” blackout as Wilson turned the lights off to the Hospital. Suspense rose and hearts pounded when witnessing doors open and close, and hearing loud footsteps across the floor, all while not seeing a soul in sight. Sets took an interesting route in using the stage, all simple, yet effective. The use of props and costumes made the time period questionable, but it was all visually appealing nonetheless.

Whether Elwood is sipping whiskey in a bar downtown, or having a conversation with his invisible friend, it becomes apparent that judging him will do no good. Idolizing him, however, will make all the difference in the world. This becomes evident when all the people around him start to unravel. Wherever the cast may have wandered, as far as performance styles, they came together in realizing the “perfectly normal” human beings are nasty people.

*** *** ***

By Sophia Young of Coral Glades High School

Mistaken identity, “imaginary” friends, smitten doctors, and a six-foot-tall rabbit all come together in Pompano Beach High School’s production of “Harvey”, a hilariously relevant story of embracing family regardless of complications.

The play “Harvey” premiered on Broadway in 1944 and closed in 1949, running for 1,775 performances. Originally written by playwright Mary Chase in 1944, Chase won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for “Harvey” in 1945. Though written in the early 20th century, the play has proved its timeless themes as it has been revived multiple times since then, most recently in the West End in 2015. The story of “Harvey” follows Veta Louise Simmons and her endeavors to commit her brother, Elwood P. Dowd (and his “imaginary” friend Harvey), to a sanitarium. Through a comedy of errors, Veta soon realizes the true role that Elwood plays in her life, regardless of his “friend” who has now even made an impact on the doctors.

Leading the show as Elwood P. Dowd was Daniel Llorens, whose comedic timing and unfaltering energy commanded the stage in every scene. His sister, Veta Louise Simmons, was played by Catherine Hollows. Hollows’ comedic timing and fearless characterization aided her in positively standing out from the rest of the ensemble. Together, Llorens and Hollows undoubtedly provided the strongest performances as they led the show effectively through their consistent commitment to their characters.

A comedic standout of the production was Amorie Barton as Dr. Chumley. Barton’s frazzled motives and gradual realization of Harvey’s presence created a memorably developed character that enhanced the central themes of the show well. Making the most of their limited stage times were Robert Gamez as the Cab Driver and Denzel Tennet as Wilson, whose broadened energy and comedic timings propelled the show to new heights.

The technical aspects of the production seemed to detract heavily from the overall spectacle of the show, with many efforts seeming out of place. The lack of age makeup on older characters made the differentiating of ages extremely difficult, and the costuming was very inconsistent with the time period and the ages of different characters. The set, however, was efficient in creating multiple settings and was well utilized by the actors, as it was able to be transformed into the Dowd home and the sanitarium seamlessly.

Pompano Beach High School’s production of “Harvey” was memorably entertaining, with a devoted cast and crew that delivered the Pulitzer Prize winning Drama successfully.

*** *** ***

By Alex Wind of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High

Elwood P. Dowd has a best friend that most can only dream of – he’s a great conversationalist, predicts the future, and can even stop time!  The problem? Well, he’s a six-and-a-half-foot rabbit that only Elwood can see. Pompano Beach High School’s production of “Harvey” amusingly illustrates not only how fear can drive families apart, but also the severe repercussions that hasty actions can have.

“Harvey,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy by Mary Chase, is the story of the perfect gentleman, Elwood P. Dowd, and his best friend, Harvey – a pooka, who is a six-foot tall, invisible rabbit. When Elwood begins introducing Harvey around town, his embarrassed sister, Veta Louise, and her daughter, Myrtle Mae, become determined to commit Elwood to a sanitarium. A mistake is made, however, and Veta is committed rather than Elwood! Eventually, the mistake is realized, and a frantic search begins for Elwood and the invisible pooka, which concludes with Elwood appearing, voluntarily, at the sanitarium. In the end, however, Veta realizes that she loves her brother and his invisible best friend just as they are, and doesn’t want either of them to change.

Daniel Llorens’ (Elwood P. Dowd) quirky portrayal of “the biggest screwball in town” brought just the right mix of dignity and eccentricity. His sharp wit and impeccable comedic timing displayed a true understanding of the character and the humorous nature of the piece. Catherine Hollows (Veta Louise) as the high-strung sister of Elwood used her vocal inflection and mannerisms to play the tightly-wound woman. Hollows’ performance contributed immensely to the authenticity of the production, particularly through her firm establishment of characterization that she never wavered from.

Sustaining the comedic vibe of the show were the sanitarium staff, Denzel Tennet, Amorie Barton, Nickolas Kewla, and Gabriella Ribeiro (Wilson, Dr. Chumley, Sanderson, and Nurse Kelly, respectively). Barton’s breakdown in the second act expanded the variety of different energy levels from the singularity of the first act’s livelihood. Tennet remained engaging throughout the entire show with his prominent stage presence and hilarious hijinks. Kewla maintained high energy in his performance, creating a childish persona for the newly hired Sanderson. Ribeiro remained cognizant of her character through subtle and effective reactions that added wonderfully to the realism the show strived to achieve.

The production ran rather smoothly in terms of its technical elements as well. The student-done set (Regina Monaco and Co.), although minimalistic, was still sufficient and successful – whether in the sanitarium or the Dowd household. Despite some characters having gray hair or mentioning their old age, there was very little old age makeup visible on the actors, an aspect that slightly hindered the production. Although some costumes may have slightly clashed period-wise, they managed to work well overall.

If you have any sanity, you’ll take a chance and bunny hop on over to Pompano Beach High School! “Harvey” presents a great display of comedy, bringing to life a story like no other with a deep message about the very construct of human nature; and, above all else, it illustrates the idea that all friends are important – whether they’re real, or purely imaginary.

*** *** ***

By Sydnie Rathe of American Heritage School

Things that exist in the fantastic world of Harvey: a pompous woman, her abnormal brother and her selfish daughter, a flirtatious doctor, a tennis-playing judge, a cab driver, two nurses and a six-foot three-and-one- half-inch tall imaginary rabbit. In its production of Harvey, Pompano Beach High School explored the line between sanity and insanity as it dove into this crazy, hilarious show.

Mary Chase’s comedy, Harvey, took the country by storm at its Broadway premiere in 1944. During its first run, the play ran for 1,775 performances and took home the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Drama. This show follows the life of Elwood P. Dowd as his embarrassed sister, Veta, attempts to check him into a sanitarium after realizing the permanence of his imaginary rabbit friend named Harvey. The plot is filled with incredibly comedic mishaps, such as the doctor attempting to check Veta into the sanitarium rather than her brother, and kept audience members on their toes throughout the entire show.

Leading this production, Daniel Llorens excellently embodied the charming and eccentric qualities of his delusional character, Elwood P. Dowd. With precise comedic timing and a larger than life persona, he gave a performance that was truly a pleasure to witness. Alongside him, Catherine Hollows brought a tremendous energy to her more mature character, Elwood’s sister Veta.  Each cast member added his or her own unique dynamic to their very contrasting roles, often leading to the discovery of interesting comedic choices. Overall, the cast remained engaged, but could have improved by making even larger choices and taking bigger risks.

Although there were not a great deal of technical elements throughout the production, what was done was simple and effective. The set was practical and provided the appropriate atmosphere for the show, while also minimal enough to maintain efficient scene changes. Similarly, the music that underscored various portions of the production added to the mood without detracting from the main action. The epitome of this show’s technical achievements, however, can be seen in the student artwork on the cover of the playbill, designed by “PBHS Drama.” It added originality and was specific to this production and, overall, intrigued the audience with its portrayal of a dark, bunny-shaped shadow behind a faceless man. Although costumes were not always period-appropriate, the technical elements of this show were generally excellent and aided in its success.

While some elements of the show could have been cleaned, Harvey at Pompano Beach High School was a strong production that triumphed in the joy it brought their audiences through genuine laughter.

*** *** ***

By Andres Hernandez of The Sagemont School

Climbing the social ladder can be quite an arduous task. From the constant need to network, to the endless concern of external appearances, those looking to elevate their social status are constantly on high alert. With that in mind, one would think that having a brother who is best pals with an invisible, 6 foot tall rabbit would potentially be harmful to a certain socialite’s image. The solution: admit him to a sanitarium? The expected answer might be no, but it is this exact scenario that Pompano Beach High School brought to the stage in their lighthearted production of the classic comedy of errors, “Harvey”.

Making its Broadway debut in 1944, “Harvey” has remained a popular and relevant piece of theatre ever since its creation. The play tells the story of Elwood P. Dowd, a charming man with an unlikely quirk. Claiming to be friends with a massive, invisible rabbit, Elwood is seen as mentally unstable in the eyes of his sister, Veta. When she attempts to send Elwood to a sanitarium, chaos ensues, leaving a whole slew of characters tangled in the web of his fluffy antics.

Tackling the role of Elwood P. Dowd was the ever enjoyable Daniel Llorens. From his carefree personality to his witty one-liners, Llorens found a strong balance between innocently loony and universally likeable. Scenes between Elwood and Veta (Catherine Hollows) were particularly enjoyable, as the duo stood out from the cast in terms of energy and commitment to character. Hollows herself was a consistently enjoyable figure onstage in the role of Veta. Her sharp comedic timing resulted in some of the most comedic moments of the show, and her commitment to playing an older woman was impressively believable. Dr. Chumley (Amorie Barton) was another engaging character. His spiraling decline from composed doctor to manic madman was most entertaining thanks to his ability to project and convey a range of emotions.

While some characters fell short in terms of characterization and emotional commitment, the entire cast and crew should be commended for their clean execution and advancement of the plot line. An impressive technical moment was achieved when they made it appear as if Harvey himself was walking across the stage. A collaboration of lighting, stage crew, and sound, this effect created a sense of suspense that was pleasantly unexpected. In terms of sound, the show as a whole could have benefited from the increased use of mics, as lines were occasionally lost due to volume and unclear diction. The set design was simple yet effective, featuring several doorways and entrance points that fostered opportunities for dynamic blocking.

The human imagination is a powerful force. As Elwood would argue, what is real and what is not real solely depends on the individual, for sometimes the only thing keeping us from believing, is our inability to imagine it. The students of Pompano Beach High School joined forces to bring this abstract concept to life in their playful production of “Harvey”.

*** *** ***

Reviews of Antigone at Piper High School on Saturday, 3/11/2017.

By Sophia Young of Coral Glades High School

Turning father against son and sister against sister, Piper High School is sure to please the gods with their production of “Antigone”, an adaptation of a classic tragedy of upholding beliefs against all odds.

“Antigone”, originally written by Sophocles in or before 441 BC, tells the story of Antigone, the daughter of Oedipus, and her endeavors towards providing a proper burial for her fallen brother. When her uncle, King Creon, declares Antigone’s brother a traitor and forbids proper funeral rites, Antigone decides to take matters into her own hands. The classic play has been celebrated by generations, and has been studied in schools and performed by actors for centuries.

Performing an adaptation of “Antigone” by David Rush, Piper High School’s production was very well done, exceeding the expectations one would have of a high school show. The production was phenomenally directed by Maiya Xirinachs, a student, as she captured the themes of the text satisfactorily. Though the show was a more modern interpretation, Xirinachs’ ability to convey the themes of both Sophocles and Rush through a high school production is especially noteworthy.

Leading the show as Antigone was Melissa Kean, whose bold characterization carried the show beautifully. Her sister, Ismene, was expressively played by Karen Valencia. Kean and Valencia’s chemistry on stage was extremely prominent, as their scenes together were some of the most engaging of the show. Both provided a fearless sense of realism, exemplifying their sisterhood, that tastefully and effectively drove the show.

Making the most of their small roles were Abigail Downie as Klemos and Lowrence Toussaint as the Sentry. Though both Downie and Toussaint had limited stage time, both positively stood out from the ensemble, utilizing their comedic timing and ability to make memorable choices. The Chorus motivated the plot thoroughly, as their sense of togetherness provided both humor and insight to the twisting plot.

The technical aspects of the show were minimalistic and could have been improved upon, but altogether served their purposes well. The set was practical and simple, easily being able to represent different locations with minimal changes. The costumes, hair, and makeup accurately depicted not only each individual character, but their status as well. Though the lighting seemed a bit patchy and some blackouts seemed drawn out, the actors compensated for the darkness with their dynamic acting choices.

Piper High School undoubtedly tackled the challenge of “Antigone”, successfully conveying the mature themes of love, civil disobedience, and fidelity that the classic play has to offer.

*** *** ***

By Sydnie Rathe of American Heritage School

When familial rivalry begins to define an entire kingdom, it is up to Antigone to remember her beloved brother’s memory despite the fatal consequences. In Piper High School’s production of Antigone, the students explored the world of Greek tragedy and brought energy and life to the ancient tale.

Originally written in 441 B.C. by Sophocles, Antigone has been one of the most profound examples of Greek tragedy since its conception. It follows the story of the stubborn and steadfast Antigone in her determination to honor her brother’s death against her uncle, King Creon’s, wishes. The students of Piper High School performed the David Rush adaptation and made this production far more accessible to a modern audience.

The most stunning aspect of this production was undoubtedly direction by Maiya Xirinachs. While student direction is impressive in its own right, Xirinachs went above and beyond with her innovative use of space. She infused the production with dynamic emotional intensity and ensured that her actors fully understood the challenging text. Above all, she was able to mount this show within four weeks, a task that challenges even many professional directors.

Leading the cast to success, Melissa Kean as Antigone maintained an incredible balance between her character’s feminine delicacy and strength. Her elegant defiance of Creon’s brutish rule was not only commanding but also incredibly empowering. Antigone’s sister, Ismene, played by Karen Valencia, was compassionate and magnificent to watch. Her physical connection with her sister and her genuine emotions made her performance absolutely shine.

The Greek chorus style female ensemble was truly a standout in this production. Their blocking was creative and, paired with the humorous nature of this modern adaptation, aided this ensemble in making the story flow smoothly. The division of lines and the choice to have the girls act out various portions of the story with sass and spunk were refreshing twists on the often stoic Greek chorus.

The technical elements of this this show were aesthetically pleasing and effectively established location and atmosphere. Costumes were inventive and well-suited to each character’s role in society. The musical selections underscoring many of the scenes and scene changes were appropriate and followed the shifting mood of the show. Even further, the makeup was absolutely striking, truly making the actors radiate from onstage. While it was at times unclear precisely how modern the show was intended to be, the technical side of this production was generally cohesive.

In their production of Antigone, the students of Piper High School soared to incredible heights in their innovative take on this classical piece

*** *** ***

By Nicole Sugarman of JP Taravella High School

Welcome to Thebes, where everything has gone awry. Join the cast of Piper High School’s “Antigone” as troubles ensue in this compelling adaptation of the classic play.

Originally written by Sophocles around 441 B.C, “Antigone” is the third of the three Theban plays. This powerful play follows “Antigone”, daughter, and sister, to Oedipus, as she takes it upon herself to be sure her brother receives proper burial, an act made unlawful by King Creon, Antigone’s uncle. In this lighter version of the play, adapted by David Rush, the language is modernized as to make the plot more comprehensible for current audiences.

Playing the tragic heroine and title role, Antigone, Melissa Kean did an excellent job conveying the inner struggles of her role without becoming overly dramatic or exaggerating unnecessarily. Kean had a nice build in emotional intensity throughout the production, truly feeling her character’s grief and sorrow. Deven Astacio, portraying King Creon, fully embodied this powerful and cruel man through his strong characterization and ability to command the stage.

Playing Antigone’s radiant sister, Ismene, Karen Valencia displayed the compassion of her character exquisitely and developed a strong relationship with Kean (Antigone) throughout the course of the play.

The Chorus did a commendable job relaying the plot of the story and working as a unit. The Chorus girls all had fantastic diction and projection, making it easy to understand them. Their use of different formations and gestures was effective and helped to further convey the current mood of the play.

During some moments in the play, the blocking came across a bit unnatural, in some cases making it difficult to see the actors’ faces and closing off the audience from the scene.  However, the cast’s speedy pickup between lines and passion behind their roles compensated for these faults.

The makeup in this production, designed by Dina Tovar and Caylandra Redding, was detailed and visible underneath the stage lights. The makeup, costuming, and hair was befitting to each character, as well as the time period. Some of the blackouts between scenes were a bit lengthy and left the audience in the dark a bit longer than needed, but the music during transitions helped.

Piper High School’s compelling production of “Antigone” retold the classic Greek tragedy and brought this puzzling piece of theatre to life, forcing one to ask the complex question, “What would you have done in their shoes?”

*** *** ***

By Susanna Ninomiya of Somerset Academy Arts Conservatory

Step into a world of beautifully clad characters in eye-catching costumes, a sassy Greek chorus, and a classic family drama, and it will leave you thinking about everything that was right with Piper High School’s production of Antigone.

Antigone is a drama adapted by David Rush from Sophocles’ classic play of the same name.  After a sibling rivalry ended in one of them dead, King Creon of Thebes forbade anyone from burying “the traitor” who started the feud. When his niece, Princess Antigone, unhappy to let her brother go without a proper burial, took matters into her own hands, she set off a family dispute that questioned honor and morals.

Melissa Kean captured the obstinate yet justifiably angry princess, and expressed the strength of the strong-willed Antigone’s civil disobedience. Deven Astacio dedicated himself to the role of the arrogant King Creon, who rejected the laws of the gods in favor of the rational law of men. Astacio brought a fresh view of the King and grew into his performance towards the latter half of the play.  Karen Valencia (Ismene) played Antigone’s reasonable sister, listening and reacting almost instinctually to every word her rebellious sister had to say, while trying to steer her away from danger. Chandler Reaves, who played Haemon, showed great emotion and depth when faced with conflict. A particularly memorable performance came from Lowrence Toussaint in the role of Sentry, a messenger who has to tell the king the news about Antigone’s rebellion. Toussaint immediately grabbed the audience’s attention from the moment he bounced onto the stage, wildly floundering while praising the king in order to soften the blow of his troubling news.

The inventive ensemble exuded great energy and played a pivotal role, explaining what had happened throughout the play, ensuring that no audience member would be left out of the loop, including with effective facial expressions. Although some fell behind in the recitations, the chorus was usually in-sync.

The set was nicely executed, even though some pieces lacked consistency, they transported the audience to ancient Greece. At times there were some lighting issues, however that did not take away from the smart light choices set to compel and mystify the audience. The costumes and makeup were striking and easily seen from afar, adding to the staging of the production. The costumes were differentiated based on the characters position in society, and were appropriate to the era.

In the end, the play Antigone questions what can be justified as being morally or lawfully right.  Piper High School’s entertaining production certainly helped answer that question.

*** *** ***

By Sheridan Lasher of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High

While free will has always served as compelling motivation for Antigone’s decisions, her ultimate predicament results from the undeniable work of fate. When confronted with the prospect of death, “the hardest questions have to be faced” in Piper High School’s production of “Antigone.”

Originally written by Sophocles in 441 BC, the modern adaptation of “Antigone” by David Rush opens with the news of the two dueling brothers’ deaths: one is honored and one is punished. Antigone refuses to relinquish her brother’s body to the animals and vows to disobey King Creon in order to honor the death of her beloved brother. However, her gutsy opposition to the king eventually leads to her ultimate demise.

Melissa Kean displayed both eloquence and defiance in her portrayal of the title character, Antigone. She demonstrated distinct emotional growth through her developed intonation and naturally staged movements, enhancing the verisimilitude of this modernized interpretation. Deven Astacio, as Creon, commanded the stage with fervency, using a powerful tone inflection each time he partook in a scene. A dynamic rapport was created between the two with a fine line separating their uncle-niece and king-subject relationships.

Karen Valencia, as Antigone’s vehement and benevolent sister, brought energy to the production and incomparably expressed the devotion towards her family, as there was never a moment of uncertainty in her character. Valencia complemented all the actors onstage and can be credited with much of the production’s success. Lowrence Toussaint, as Sentry, entered the stage with vibrancy and energy, perfectly executing comedic timing in all of his lines. His high spirit was consistent throughout the production and heightened his grave conversation with the king.

The ensemble of the Greek Chorus strengthened the understanding of the play’s meaning and demonstrated the actresses’ true comprehensions of the context in which the production takes place. The girls had unmistakably individual personalities, but still maintained their ability to portray one cohesive unit of storytellers, as they worked in harmony to advance the heartrending story of Antigone’s inevitable fate.

While the tech as a whole was favorable, there were points in the production where the staging seemed uneven and the costumes inconsistent. Although the upstage Greek columns were not set down properly and remained swinging during one scene, almost all aspects of the student-built set appropriately fit the aesthetic of the production and brought the show together as a whole. Many of the blackouts seemed longer than required, but the spotlight seamlessly followed the actors’ every moves. Further, the hair and makeup, by Dina Tovar and Caylandra Redding, accurately depicted the men and women of ancient Greece, strengthening the believability of that time period.

The stylistic maturity of the play as a high school level production must be commended. Through assiduous acting performances and sublime technical elements, Piper High School’s production of “Antigone” depicts how familial bonds are tested in a time of affliction.

*** *** ***

Reviews of The Laramie Project at Deerfield Beach High School on Friday, 3/10/2017.

By Andrew Singer of NSU University School

“In his all-too-brief life, he proved that he was a winner” (The Laramie Project). These words come from Dennis Shepard, father of Matthew Shepard: a twenty one year old brother, son, and student at the University of Wyoming where he enjoyed political science and language arts.  Among all other things, Matthew was gay. After a gruesome abduction, beating, and abandonment, Matthew died in a hospital bed with his family by his side and passionate activists waiting outside of the hospital and across America. This is the focus of the 2000 verbatim play The Laramie Project by Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project.

Deerfield Beach High School’s production of this verbatim theatre piece proved the acting abilities of the students and showed how deeply Matthew Shepard’s message resonates almost two decades later. Daniel Silberberg, as Reverend Fred Phelps gave a memorable performance as he lead an anti-gay protest. His passion in his role was impressive especially since Silberberg had to also play several contrasting roles. His performance as Aaron McKinney, one of the murderers, was also a strong point as he shared his character’s biting words of hate. Dion Bailey in the role of Reggie Fluty, a cop, also showed deep emotion and strength through long, passionate monologues presenting the effect of the hate crime on her life.

Bringing life and a hint of comedy to her character was Domonique Bethel in the role of Reggie Fluty’s mother, Marge Murray. Among the more serious roles, was Matthew Shepard’s father, Dennis Shepard. In the dramatic and heartbreaking role was Marcel Elkouri, who brought a certain sense of reality and passion that was necessary to convey the emotions of a grieving father who has to speak not only for Matthew but for an entire nation against the brutal acts performed against Shepard. One of the most memorable and heart wrenching moments came when Dennis addressed his son’s murderer in court.

Like the play emphasized, the crime had a much deeper effect than just on Matthew. Sarah Mellinger also shined in her role of Amanda Gronich as she shared the effect of Matthew’s death on her personal life. As an ensemble, the Tectonic Theatre Company worked well together in order to convey their role in the play. They conducted the interviews that are the basis for this show and their distinctive t-shirts depicting “Erase Hate” helped their message and role become clear.

In such a small black box space, it is difficult to manipulate set and to interact with the whole audience. While most were engaging and aware, some spoke primarily to one corner of the audience while the other side was left wondering what was said. Additionally, the set was beautiful but the scene changes were often loud and distracting from the vital action and lines occurring over them. I have always been told that silence is valuable. Many valued the silent moments but some scenes simply felt rushed and scripted. All in all, Deerfield Beach High School’s production of The Laramie Project successfully shared its message of acceptance, love, family, and home: a lesson we could all use in our world today. Erase Hate.

*** *** ***

By Sofie Whitney of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High

On October 6, 1998, Matthew Shepard was brutally beaten, mutilated, and left to die because of hate towards his sexual orientation. On March 10, 2017, the students of Deerfield Beach High School shared his story in their heart-rending production of “The Laramie Project.”

Written by Moisés Kaufman and the members of the Tectonic Theater Project, “The Laramie Project”  first premiered in Denver, Colorado in February 2000. The play is a collection of interviews surrounding the 1998 murder of gay student Matthew Shepard in his hometown of Laramie, Wyoming. Dealing with heavy subjects such as violence, homophobia, and social injustice, “The Laramie Project”  is often used in schools to educate students about prejudice and tolerance.

This production of “The Laramie Project”  consisted of 19 actors playing more than 60 different roles. The cast did an exceptional job differentiating their characters by generating a new distinctive essence each time they shifted roles. As a unit, the performers seemed incredibly connected to the subject matter in which they were presenting.

Portraying a multitude of complex and varying characters, Daniel Silberberg gave a powerful performance. As Reverend Fred Phelps, an incredibly outspoken minister who strongly disagreed with the recognition that Matthew’s death received, Silberberg remarkably conveyed the point of the view of the homophobic opposition. Reggie Fluty, the first responder on the scene of Matthew’s attack, was played by Dion Bailey. Bailey told her character’s story of grief with authentic emotion and unending commitment.

As Matthew’s close friend and LGBTQ activist, Romaine Patterson, Maya Quinones embodied the passion and motivation of her character with ease. Throughout the entirety of the production, Quinones displayed incessant energy and appeared to be engaged in every scene, even if she was not the main focus. Marcel Elkouri gave one of the most memorable performances depicting the role of Dennis Shepard, Matthew’s father. During the scene in which he confronted Aaron McKinney, one of Matthew’s killers, Elkouri displayed incredibly truthful emotion and brought the story to a powerful climax. As Amanda Gronich, one of the members of Tectonic Theater Company, Sarah Mellinger had excellent articulation and characterization when conducting various interviews throughout the show.

The black box made the experience of watching the show more intimate, as if the audience was in the room during each interview. Late lighting cues distracted from the action onstage, but the actors remained engaged. The set consisted of multipurpose cubes that were effective in creating various locations in the production.

Deerfield Beach High School’s tear-jerking production of “The Laramie Project”  shed light on the crucial topics of discrimination and homophobia while beautifully honoring the life of Matthew Shepard.

*** *** ***

By Erin Cary of NSU University School

Welcome to Laramie, Wyoming. Hear the heartbreaking story of a town stained by tragedy at Deerfield Beach High School’s powerful production of The Laramie Project.

The Laramie Project is a theatrical account of the brutal 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old gay man from Laramie, Wyoming. Moises Kaufman and the members of the Tectonic Theatre Company traveled to Laramie to conduct hundreds of interviews with town inhabitants, which they used to compose the play. The play premiered in February of 2002 in Denver, Colorado, with later performances in New York and Laramie itself. The play deals with difficult issues, including murder, homophobia, and religious controversy.

The show is composed of a series of actors performing multiple roles with no true leads. One of the performance’s most notable actors was Daniel Silbersberg, who performed the roles of Reverend Fred Phelps, Greg Perotti, Aaron McKinney, Sergeant Hing, Rulon Stacy, and Baptist minister. His ability to switch seamlessly from character to character was impressive, and his diction and physicality was notable among the cast. His emotional connection to the script made up for other actors who often seemed to lack sentiment behind their words. Dion Bailey also stood out, especially in her role as Reggie Fluty, a police officer on the case of Matthew’s murder. Her dramatic telling of her story, as well as her strong chemistry with Domonique Bethel (Marge Murray), stressed the severity of the story.

Marcel Elkouri gave an impressive performance as Dennis Shepard. His conviction and passion in his courtroom monologue were fueled by strong diction and physicality. Sarah Mellinger as Amanda Gronich also displayed strong commitment to her role, consistently presenting coherent and fluid diction, contrasting other actors who were often hard to hear or unclear. Alan Haley, as Jedadiah Schultz, also added to the intimacy of the show with a familiar character who seemed natural and progressive. Domonique Bethel as Marge Murray created strong relationships on stage and added an element of humor to the production. She was able to successfully execute comedic moments while still maintaining the seriousness of the show.

The ensemble as a whole generally worked well together. Select groups, such as the Tectonic Theatre Company, had strong dynamics and maintained group consistencies in individual moments. The pacing of the show was executed successfully, giving enough time for each moment and level of the story. Some actors lacked the sincerity necessary to convey the gravity of the script, but the story was still delivered entirely.

The production’s black box setting helped to increase the intimacy of the atmosphere. However, spacing at times made it hard to hear or see actors. The set as well seemed to hinder some actor’s abilities to utilize the space. Problems with lighting were however overcome by actors, and the performers mainly carried on impressively despite the incorrect timing of lights.

The Laramie Project is a difficult script that deals with challenging topics and questions the magnitude of hate and mercy. Deerfield Beach High School took this challenging script and created a successful production with a vital message.

*** *** ***

By Chase Wise of Somerset Academy Arts Conservatory

Some people say, “Things happen for a reason.” People come into our lives, others leave, and some are taken; but does it arise only to confound us or to take part in something bigger and greater? Matthew Shepard was taken too young; a victim of hate and irreverence. Though his loss precipitated pain and suffering among many people, it also sparked a revolution, a revolution for empowerment and equality- something bigger than all of us. Deerfield Beach High School respectively told Matthew’s story in its production of “The Laramie Project.”

Written by Moises Kaufman and the members of the Tectonic Theater Project, “The Laramie Project” is an example of Verbatim Theatre. The play derives from hundreds of interviews conducted with the many people associated with Matthew’s murder, which inevitably shone light on the state’s lack of attention on hate crimes.

One actor that especially stood out among the rest was Daniel Silberberg, who notably took on the roles of Reverend Fred Phelps and Aaron McKinney. As the Reverend, he displayed strong stage presence and effectively stood as a voice for the church at such a controversial and high-stakes time in Wyoming. Then, when he became the role of Aaron, he exhibited a mastery of his character as he utilized natural gestures and facial expressions to embody the heinous killer. Forming a distinction between characters seemed almost effortless for Silberberg because of his differentiation of vocal inflections and mannerisms. Another actor that should be praised for his heart-wrenching monologue about his lost son is Marcel Elkouri as Dennis Shepard. This monologue was spoken towards one of his sons’ killers, Aaron McKinney, and Elkouri performed it with sophistication and precision to efficiently capture the fathers’ anguish. Dion Bailey, who played Reggie Fluty, also evoked a sense of true emotional commitment to her character and was very believable in her portrayal.

The ensemble of actors all worked together to form a lovely piece of theatre, epitomizing the need for art that has a genuine meaning. Though at times some actors missed cues, or lines were lost in translation, they worked well to recover from these discrepancies. The play was performed in an unconventional, yet cozy, black box theatre that assured the intimacy that this show needed in order to express its vitality. The minimalistic set was made up of several boxes that were mobile and used to form differing settings, and though it was a clever idea, it was a bit distracting and noisy, but the actors’ clear diction and projection helped combat this issue.

The story of Matthew Shepard was perfectly captured in “The Laramie Project,” and Deerfield Beach High School did a wonderful job of relaying the message. Every action has a bigger, more profound meaning, and for the murder of Matthew Shepard, it was to open the eyes of Americans across the country.

*** *** ***

By Taylor Fish of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High

Deerfield Beach High School depicted the lowest depths of animosity and the greatest heights of compassion in their sullen production of “The Laramie Project,”  in which they emphasized the resounding message: Erase hate.

Compiled by Moisés Kaufman and the members of the Tectonic Theater Project, “The Laramie Project” recounts a series of interviews taken on the subject matter of Matthew Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming who was beaten and left to die in 1998 due to the community’s intolerance towards homosexuality. The piece was originally written and first performed in 2000 at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and has gone on to be performed by high schools, colleges, and community theaters across the country.

Deerfield Beach High School’s production solidified itself in their self-constructed black box theater that elevated the level of intimacy which accompanies such a delicate subject matter. The close proximity to the performers allowed the actors’ emotions to be captured as if the interviews were a reality that the audience was present for, in comparison to standard proscenium theater which depersonalizes the storytelling. The imminence of the stage intensified the authenticity of the emotion and heightened the awareness of breaking down the typical fourth wall in theatre in order to personalize the storytelling process.

In a show of over 60 roles, the 19 students involved took on the task of personifying multiple characters. While occasionally the distinction between each students’ characters was made difficult by the lack of differentiation between their multiple roles, Daniel Silberberg created commendable peculiarities that clarified the contrasts between the beliefs and existences of his large repertoire of characters. Silberberg’s appearance as Reverend Fred Phelps proved particularly memorable, as he refuted the justification of homosexuality in Laramie, Wyoming, proclaiming the clash this lifestyle has with Christian values. His vigorous passion illuminated the intensity of the hatred that permeated throughout communities across the country prior to the awareness brought about by the death of Matthew Shepard.

Dion Bailey characterized the saddened first responder, Reggie Fluty, for Matthew Shepard’s case. Bailey consistently appeared to have one of the best understandings of the subject matter at hand, offering carefully contemplative accounts of Matthew’s situation and the communal response to his death. Lightening the intensity of the dark tone, Domonique Bethel portrayed the amiable and supportive mother of Reggie, Marge Murray. Her contributions of gentle humor caused an apparent reaction not only in the atmosphere of the production, but in her daughter, too. Together, this pair epitomized the need for and response to love and support that arises during crises, and paralleled the support system that developed in the community over the course of the production.

In taking on the mature nature of the script, Deerfield Beach High School’s production of “The Laramie Project”  encapsulated the importance of tolerance and justice in an imperfect society that continues to learn from its mistakes and tragedies through the immortalization of victims in art like this.

*** *** ***

Reviews of Crazy for You at West Boca High School on Thursday, 3/09/2017.

By Sophia Young of Coral Glades High School

Mix-ups, mayhem, mistaken love, and a plethora of catchy tunes; who could ask for anything more? West Boca High School’s production of “Crazy For You” transports audiences to 1930’s Deadrock, Nevada as the small rural town is intruded by New York actors and is brought up from rags to riches within weeks.

The musical “Crazy for You” originally premiered on Broadway in 1992 and won the Tony Award for Best Musical, running for 1,622 performances. With music and lyrics written by the legendary duo George and Ira Gershwin and a book by Ken Ludwig, “Crazy for You” tells the story of banking actor Bobby Child and his journey to foreclose a rundown theatre in Deadrock, Nevada, so loved by the town’s only female inhabitant, Polly Baker. As Bobby meets Polly and is inspired to save the theatre by putting on a show of his own, he slowly realizes he is getting more than what he came for.

Overall, the show boldly exceeded the expectations one would have of a high school production. Meeting the great demands the score and choreography have to offer, the ensembles of Follies and Cowboys executed the direction notably, with infectious energy that propelled the show to new heights. Many group numbers, including “I Got Rhythm”, “Slap That Bass”, and “Stiff Upper Lip”, exemplified the unmatched energy created by the ensemble as they flawlessly executed multiple large-scale tap numbers.

Leading the show as Bobby Child was Sam Cadieux, whose abilities proved himself a triple-threat as he danced his way into Polly’s heart. Polly Baker, played by Alexia Assuncao, carried the show effectively as her superbly delivered vocals and unfaltering characterization both contrasted and complimented that of Cadieux. Though some relationships lacked an overall sense of immediate chemistry, the energy and abilities of the cast as a whole compensated for any faults.

Standing out comedically was Aaron Avidon as the Zangler Theater’s director, Bela Zangler. Avidon’s fearless comedic timing and strong voice highlighted the show at the most effective moments, and was tied together by a consistent foreign accent. Creating a stimulating subplot were Jackie Faustin as Irene Roth and Zack Gropper as Lank Hawkins. The two’s antagonizing characterizations and daring choices made the show multidimensional as they created an interesting relationship that magnified the themes of the central plot. Making the most of their short stage times were Tessa Burkhart as Tess, Samantha LeClaire as Patsy, and Matthew Madden as Moose, as their audacious choices developed very memorable characters that amplified the energy of the ensemble greatly.

The technical aspects of the show were breathtaking. The set was beautifully practical, and was well utilized by the cast and seamlessly altered by the stage crew. The hair and makeup, along with the costumes, were tasteful and individualized, productively emphasizing the varying characters.

“Things are looking up” at West Boca High School, as their production of “Crazy for You” memorably delivers a story of rewarding love and exceeding expectations.

*** *** ***

By John Barnitt of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High

Brilliant staging, powerful vocals, and zesty dancing: “Who could ask for anything more” from West Boca High’s production of “Crazy for You! ”

When a banker with a yen for the stage is sent to foreclose on a property that turns out to be a ragged and distressed theatre, Bobby Child ends up falling in love with a hometown girl whose family happens to own and cherish the very building he came to shut down. In the hopes of saving the theatre, he decides to put on a musical featuring classic Gershwin songs and a Ken Ludwig libretto inspired by the 1930 musical “Girl Crazy. ” This vibrant show first hit the Broadway stage on January 1, 1992 and has become a classic ever since.

Alexia Assuncao took the stage by storm and had the audience enthralled with her commanding presence, elegant voice, and firm grasp on her character Polly Baker. She flawlessly displayed her soulful vocals in her standout song “Someone to Watch Over Me. ” Her love interest Bobby Child, played by Sam Cadieux, was equally as impressive. Cadieux had to lead many high energy tap numbers, and he succeeded in doing so with an apparent feeling of ease. Cadieux especially flourished in his solo “I Can’t Be Bothered Now, ” which displayed Sam’s beautiful range and vocal endurance that triumphed over the multitude of  dances.

Aaron Avidon portrayed the desirable foreign musical producer, Bela Zangler. Avidon established a comedic presence that lightened the intensity of Cadieux and Assuncao’s relationship immensely. He had strong harmonies in his duet with Cadieux entitled “What Causes That? ” which included beautiful parallelism between Zangler and Child. Another comedic presence was the effervescent and upbeat Patsy, portrayed by Samantha LeClair, who was also a standout Follie dancer. Samantha had high energy throughout the show and illustrated perfect comedic timing. Another Follie that stood out from the ensemble was Tessa Burkhart who portrayed the sophisticated and independent Tess. Burkhart took control of the stage with her cultivating dance moves and had genuine inflections that grounded the show as a whole.

The technical aspects of this show were carried out flawlessly. From the smooth set changes, to the ambient lighting that heightened the mood of the show immensely, stage management was attentive and made the show run smoothly. Although there were a few instances of loose mic tape, the sound was still stellar. All in all, the tech transported us into the 1930’s with their intricate set and sufficient props.

West Boca High was successful in immersing the audience in the world of Bobby Child and his crazy spontaneous life! Without a doubt, “Things are looking up” for West Boca High’s production of “Crazy for You”.

*** *** ***

By Moyra Stewart of Boca Raton High School

When Broadway glamour meets Western charm, chaotic hilarity is sure to follow. From tapping Follies girls to bottle swinging saloon crawlers, it’s impossible to not go “K-ra-zy” for West Boca Raton High School’s production of “Crazy for You”.

The classical musical has even more classic creators, with book by Ken Ludwig and lyrics and music by Ira and George Gershwin respectively. “Crazy for You” tells the story of a young New York banking heir, Bobby Child, in the 1930’s who just wants to dance. He is ordered by his mother to go to the middle of nowhere, otherwise known as Deadrock, Nevada, to foreclose on a rundown theater. Along the way he falls in love, impersonates a famed director, teaches cowboys to dance, and puts on an impossible show in hopes of saving the theater and bringing life back to Deadrock.

West Boca’s entire cast and crew did an exemplary job in their rendition of the iconic story, complete with sharp choreography, angelic vocals, and high energy that never seemed to waver even through difficult tap numbers. Despite minor technical difficulties, and some diction problems, the cast overcame any challenges thrown their way, putting on a seemingly effortlessly enchanting production that embodied the true magic of musical theater.

Sam Cadieux commanded the stage as the charismatic Bobby Child. His dedication was evident every second he appeared on stage, gracefully tapping through extremely difficult numbers, and simultaneously producing chilling vocal performances consistently throughout the show. Cadieux stole the show with his exquisite comedic timing, making it impossible not to fall in love with any character he portrayed, whether it be the naively lovestruck Bobby Child, or the ill-tempered Hungarian director Bela Zangler. He and Alexia Assuncao, who played the strong willed Polly Baker, complimented each other beautifully on stage. She gave equally as strong vocal and dance performances, especially in her heartfelt ballad “Someone to Watch Over Me”. Assuncao and Cadieux’s chemistry on stage was just as enjoyable to watch as it was to hear, creating a convincing duo.

A talented ensemble made the show the true Broadway spectacle it was. The Follies, clad in bedazzled costumes, tapped their way through intricate numbers, all the while maintaining graceful facials and delightful harmonies. Samantha LeClaire, who played Patsy, stood out among the Follies, always being front and center, on-beat, and producing hilarious reactions. And of course any good western wouldn’t be complete without a cowboy quartet who oozed southern charm and spirit, bringing a whole lot of hootin’ and hollerin’ that makes you just want to get up and “Slap That Bass”.

Visually speaking, the show was stunning, with a multi-purpose set and a colorful array of costumes that made you truly believe you were in the middle of Deadrock, Nevada in the 1930’s. There were some technical issues with mics coming detached, and costume malfunctions, but they did not detracted from the production as a whole.

Join the cast of “Crazy for You” at West Boca as they tap their troubles away, leaving you with an unshakable rhythm and the idea that any dream, no matter how big, can’t be taken away from you.

*** *** ***

By Christina Lorenzo of Boca Raton High School

Put on your tapping shoes and get ready to “Slap That Bass” with West Boca Raton Community High School’s cast and crew as they present the famed romantic comedy “Crazy For You. ”

“Crazy For You, ” book by Ken Ludwig and music by George and Ira Gershwin, is an adaptation of the Gershwins’ musical “Girl Crazy. ” In this romantic comedy set in the 1930s, Bobby Child attempts to win the heart of Polly Baker, a local western girl, by saving the theatre she grew up admiring. In a series of farcical events, Child is willing to go to extremes to make it happen. In 1992, “Crazy For You” won Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Choreography, and Best Costume Design. Since then, music from the show, such as “Embraceable You” and “I Got Rhythm, ” have become wildly popular.

With high energy, excellent comedic timing, and top-notch dance and vocals, West Boca’s cast of “Crazy For You” put on an exceptional performance free of any significant flaws. Throughout the production, the cast and crew beautifully worked as a unit to put on a show that wasn’t anything short of wonderful.

Sam Cadieux, as the talented and lovable Bobby Child, put on a stellar performance. Aside from Cadieux’s impressive singing and dancing, he was able to completely mold into his character through both physical and emotional commitment, even while being on stage for the majority of the show. In Bobby’s saloon scene with Zangler, Cadieux invoked enormous laughter among audience members without saying more than a few words. Alexia Assuncao was also consistent as the strong-willed Polly Baker. Assuncao’s stunning vocals and impressive control, most notably in the song “But Not For Me,” displayed a maturity and consistency in Assucao that is rare to find among performers in high school.

As the confused and hysterical Bela Zangler, Aaron Avidon lit up the stage. His use of a thick accent and whimsical mannerisms brought more to his outrageous character. From beginning to end, Avidon had an energy that fueled the show. Jackie Faustin was also notable for her portrayal of Irene Roth. Faustin manipulated her voice to emphasize the pouty and sensual characterization of Irene. Along with her convincing voice inflection, Faustin also utilized grand expressions to foil the grounded and down-to-earth Polly.

The technical crew of “Crazy For You” was also very diligent. With the numerous set changes throughout the show, the crew successfully transitioned the scenes within seconds. Although there were minor issues with slipping microphones, the crew quickly problem-solved and microphones remained on actors’ faces for the remainder of the show. Hair and makeup was also very suiting to the setting and time of the show. From the glamour of the Follies to the gruffness of the townsmen, the hair and makeup crew successfully displayed a contrast.

Overall, “Things Are Looking Up” for West Boca Raton Community High school and the exceptional cast and crew of “Crazy for you. ”

*** *** ***

By Nicole Sugarman of JP Taravella High School

Put on your dancing shoes, chin up, and slap that bass! Get ready for a dazzling evening of theatre with the cast of West Boca’s Crazy For You! They can’t take that away from me!

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, Crazy For You premiered on Broadway in the year 1992. With music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin and a book by Ken Ludwig, this romantic comedy tells the heartwarming tale of a boy with big dreams, Bobby Child, and the headstrong, “All American” Polly Baker. When Bobby is sent by his overbearing mother to foreclose on a property in Deadrock, Nevada, he falls head over heels for Polly and decides to take matters of the unpaid mortgage into his own hands by putting on a show. Filled with addictive tunes, visually stunning tap routines, and sweet romance, Crazy For You captures the true essence of a Broadway musical.

Portraying the lovestruck Bobby Child, Sam Cadieux tapped his way into the hearts of all viewers with his smooth vocals, impeccable comedic timing, and beautifully polished dance steps. Playing Bobby’s strong-willed love interest, Polly Baker, Alexia Assuncao depicted Polly’s spunkiness and grit exquisitely, while still finding moments to expose the softer, more sensitive, side of her as well. In numbers such as “Someone to Watch Over Me” and “But Not For Me”, this tender side, as well as her incredible vocal talent, came to the forefront.

Playing the Hungarian musical theatre producer, Bela Zangler, Aaron Avidon gave quite a memorable performance, commanding the stage and developing a convincing character. Avidon’s superb comedic timing and excellent vocals were showcased in the hilarious duet between himself and Bobby, “What Causes That? ” Zach Gropper, playing the inhospitable saloon owner, Lank Hawkins, crafted a comedically cruel character and displayed total commitment to the role. The egotistical ex-fiancé Irene was portrayed by Jackie Faustin. Faustin’s flirtatious rendition of “Naughty Baby” allowed her to show off another side of the role, as well as her lovely voice.

The ensemble in this production maintained lively facial expressions, high energy, and showcased outstanding dance abilities. The cast did an excellent job handling the prop heavy numbers, executing “bits” such as tap dancing on top of metal pans or using rope to create human instruments splendidly.

The flawless technical aspects enhanced the overall quality of the show. The beautifully dressed stage consisted of elaborate backdrops and multiple ultra-detailed set pieces, allowing for seamless transitions and visually stunning scenery. The costuming, hair, and makeup was befitting to each character, as well as the time period, and helped to further the believability of the performers.

The cast of West Boca’s Crazy For You put on a toe-tapping, knee-slapping, and finger-snapping production that is sure to leave you in a fit of giggles with a radiating grin. Who could ask for anything more?

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Reviews of Thoroughly Modern Millie at West Broward High School on Thursday, 3/09/2017.

By Eve Cohen of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High

Step into the roaring twenties where dresses are shorter, heels are higher, and futures are brighter. While some believe that top-notch productions are found “Only in New York”, West Broward High School contradicts those beliefs and exceeds expectations with their eccentric and animated production of “Thoroughly Modern Millie”.

With music by Jeanine Tesori, lyrics by Dick Scanlan, and a book by Richard Morris, “Thoroughly Modern Millie”  follows the story of a spirited small-town girl, Millie Dillmount, and her plans to find fortune over love in the city of dreams. The musical hit Broadway on April 18, 2002, where it subsequently won six 2002 Tony Awards. Set in 1922, women were just entering the workforce, and developing the ever-so-popular “flapper” lifestyle. Millie initially intends to marry her new boss to bring her from rags to riches; however, when stately salesman Jimmy Smith swoops in the picture, she just can’t help “Falling in Love”.

Feisty, flirtatious, and full of life, Julianna Rector, depicting Millie Dillmount, delightfully displayed dignified humor and vocal ease in her portrayal of the role. With animated facial expressions and audacious personality, she completely understood the vibrancy of her character, and continued to develop it as the show progressed. Rector’s alluring vocals were specifically showcased through her impressive belting nearing the end of “Gimme Gimme”. Jorge Amador, as the irrepressible and charismatic Jimmy Smith, held an admirable connection with Rector. Amador revealed remarkable vocalization in his solo “What Do I Need with Love”, displaying his extensive range.

Capturing the epitome of innocence and grace, Stephanie Madow as Miss Dorothy Brown established a beautiful delicacy within her character. Her soft-spoken tone and lovely head-voice perfectly fit the essence of her role. Madow’s unanticipated love interest, Trevor Graydon (Jacob Dungan) possessed an amusing charm as the successful and reliant knockout. Dungan’s rapid babble in “The Speed Test” demonstrated his immaculate diction with a relatively difficult song.

The Hotel Priscilla’s sneaky staff served as the show’s comedic trio. Silvia Bardales as Mrs. Meers, Noah Levin as Ching Ho, and Carly Mandel as Bun Foo maintained an impeccable connection with one another and consistently added gratification and laughter to the production. Levin and Mandel gave a convincing depiction of Mandarin, and adjusted to a challenging, unknown language seamlessly. Bardales’s devious mannerisms were spot on, and the transitions from her bogus Chinese character “Mrs.Meers” to her true identity Daisy Crumpler were clear and defined. Another stand out, Mina Marcelino as Muzzy Van Hossmere, characterized the glamorous and wise diva with complete accuracy. Her powerhouse vocals in “Only in New York” were astounding and made for an ebullient number.

The technical aspects of the show greatly contributed to the boisterous 1920’s atmosphere, with no significant issues in lighting or sound. The multitude of intricate set pieces rolling on and off the stage helped to establish the dazzling New York City setting. The lighting design was efficient, however rather simple and monotonous. Costumes were timely and fully fit the prosperous flapper lifestyle, but lacked cohesiveness in areas such as the stenographer’s skirts.

From the radiant harmonies to the tantalizing tap numbers, I was begging for West Broward High School to “Gimme Gimme” more of the spunk, charisma, and style that filled the stage in their lively production of “Thoroughly Modern Millie”.

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By Alex Wind of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High

In the battle between true love and exorbitant riches, which would you choose? It may be one or the other for Millie Dillmount, but both aspects fell together in beautiful harmony in West Broward High School’s production of “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”

“Thoroughly Modern Millie” sets the scene in 1922, when young Millie Dillmount leaves Kansas behind, hoping to find a new life in New York. Within moments in the big apple, Millie loses her hat, her scarf, her purse, her shoe, and “most importantly” her chance to fulfill her primary goal of marrying rich. The mess doesn’t end there; the owner of her dingy hotel kidnaps young girls to sell to the Far East, her wealthy boss is slow in proposing marriage, and the man she falls in love with doesn’t have a dime to his name… or so he tells her. This tony-award winning musical sets a precedent for leading ladies with strong themes like feminism and independence, personified in characters such as Miss Flannery, and even Millie herself!

Paving the way for the show, Julianna Rector (Millie Dillmount) embodied the modern woman with her mannerisms and vocal inflection, which reflected the legendary Sutton Foster’s original portrayal of Millie, while still adding her own flair to the character. Jorge Amador (Jimmy Smith) played up the classic trope of a New York man and sang his way into the hearts of all, especially Rector’s. The chemistry between the two was undeniable; even while Millie was upset with Jimmy, Rector was still able to portray how badly she wanted to love him. Amador’s powerhouse vocals in songs like “What Do I Need with Love” and “I Turned the Corner” showcased his vocal and emotional range and illustrated the dynamic fire of his feelings for Millie.

Stephanie Madow (Dorothy Brown) added a layer of authenticity to the performance as her enchanting soprano voice filled the stage with elegance. Alongside Madow, Jacob Dungan (Trevor Graydon) impressively executed the difficult task of having to rapidly sing while also displaying excellent diction –  particularly in his song “The Speed Test.” Comically, Dungan contributed by capturing the epitome of a hopeless romantic while falling head over heels in love with Madow’s character, only to end up losing her in the end. Mina Marcelino (Muzzy Van Hossmere) gave perhaps the strongest vocal performance of the night, especially in her solo “Only In New York.” Marcelino portrayed the wise, world-wide sensation with gusto and flair, adding some always-necessary pizazz to the end of the first act.

Overall, the ensemble excelled in performing difficult tap dances, not only in sync with one another, but also following the crisp choreography and movements required. Harmonies blended superbly and all ensemble members remained connected to the show, maintaining their characters even while simply lurking in the background. Some standout members included two dancers, Catherine Bendyk and Geszer Santana De Jesus, who both exhibited lively characterization in their faces and bodies, specifically in their featured performances as ribbon dancers during “Sweet Mystery of Life/I’m Falling in Love.”

Of all the lessons this show teaches, one stands taller than the rest: if you are lucky enough to get a ticket to “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” whatever you do, do not rip it up. Instead, raise your skirt, bob your hair, and Charleston your way over to West Broward High School for a thoroughly modern, thoroughly enjoyable time.

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By Danella Moncaliano of The Sagemont School

Welcome to the year 1922, where you will find undercover evil hotel owners, young struggling actresses, secret speakeasies, and tap-dancing secretaries “Only in New York.” In this fun-filled musical another young girl moves to the Big Apple in hopes of fulfilling her big dreams.

Based on the 1967 film, with music by Jeanine Tesori, lyrics by Dick Scanlan, and book by Richard Morris and Dick Scanlan, Thoroughly Modern Millie, winner of six Tony Awards, was the most awarded new show on Broadway in the year 2002. This upbeat musical tells the story of a young, optimistic woman in search of an eligible, wealthy bachelor to marry to achieve a rags-to-riches life story and to embrace a new and modern style growing popular among women. However, along the way her plans may be derailed by falling in love with a poor, but attractive man and saving her best friend from being sold into white slavery. West Broward High School presented a show full of plot twists and surprises which will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Millie Dillmount, just a small-town girl from Kansas, moved to New York City to follow her dreams, but, little did she know, she was in for a crazy adventure. Julianna Rector portrayed this iconic role with style and sass. She showcased her beautiful voice in multiple numbers such as “Gimme Gimme” and “Falling in Love Reprise. ” Her love interest and frequent scene partner, Jimmy Smith, played by Jorge Amador, had a witty and know-it-all attitude when he first met Millie, but Amador quickly showed his character’s compassionate side and his stellar vocal power in his solo “What Do I Need with Love.” Mina Marcelino strutted onstage as Muzzy Van Hossmere with confidence, grace, and elegance. Marcelino carried herself in a mature and sophisticated way that was only amplified when she sang her jaw-dropping solo, “Only in New York.”

The ensemble was dynamic and intriguing. Although at times some actors seemed to lack energy or enthusiasm, they made up for it in multiple musical numbers, especially during the tap dancing number “Forget About the Boy” in which their tap sounds were clear, strong, and together. Two dancers who certainly put on a spectacular performance were Catherine Bendyk and Geszer Santana De Jesus. Together, they had some beautiful and graceful partner work and stunning facials which contributed to the overall feel of their scene. Another set of entertaining cast members were Noah Levine and Carly Mandel, who played two Chinese siblings named Ching Ho and Bun Foo trying to raise money to bring their mother from their homeland to be with them. Both actors had multiple comedic moments and impressively spoke Cantonese for the entire show, which was evident in the number “Muqin.”

The mic volume at times would waver and required multiple adjustments which made it difficult to understand the story the performers were conveying and interfered with the show’s fluidity. The ensemble also lacked consistency in their costumes when it came to the length or type of dress they were wearing.

Overall, West Broward High School put on a delightful performance of a beloved musical which certainly loosened up everyone’s curls!

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By Charlotte Bacharach of Cardinal Gibbons High School

The roaring 20’s is filled with revolutionary effervescence and a new era of independence – however, if you throw in a few kidnappings, the “new woman”, and a great love story, things are even better! “Thoroughly Modern Millie” follows Millie Dillmount in her new life in New York City after leaving her home of Kansas. We see her journey through the concrete jungle as she attempts to entice her boss and reach a higher social status, meeting an undercover kidnapper, a new best friend, and an unlikely love interest along the way. Based on the 1967 film, the musical’s opening was in October 2002 with music by Jeanine Tesoro, lyrics by Dick Scanlan, and book by Richard Morris. Originally starring actors such as Sutton Foster and Gavin Creel, this iconic tale was performed with excellence by West Broward High School.

Millie Dillmount “the charismatic, daring, thoroughly modern leading lady” was portrayed by Julianna Rector. Rector brought energy and zest to the stage through her sublime vocals, full belt, and captivating tap routines. Jorge Amador played Jimmy Smith, the cheeky New Yorker who managed to sweep Millie, a “modern woman” who marries for status, off her feet. He showed incredible vocal capability in his solo “What Do I Need With Love” through his expansive range and powerful chest voice. The two developed a strong connection on stage, evident in their duet “I Turned the Corner.”

Jacob Dungan’s outrageous performance as Millie’s boss, Trevor Graydon, thrilled audiences. His humorous and over-the-top reactions resulted in a plethora of laughter. Muzzy Van Hossmere, played by Mina Marcelino, had phenomenal vocals and commanded the stage with her wit, vigor, and allure, evident in her enthralling song “Only in New York”. The pair of Chinese siblings, Bun Foo (Carly Mandel) and Ching Ho (Noah Levin), hysterically portrayed their eccentric characters with constant emotion and hyperbolic expressions; to top it off, they even spoke Mandarin! The Ensemble excelled at their clean, synchronized dance numbers, and even challenging tap scenes. The large cast, at times, struggled with diction and interacting on stage, but compensated with their vivacity and dedication.

Sound, a particularly challenging subject, was done by students with minimal issue or feedback. Both the costumes and hairstyles fit the period appropriately in this new decade of frisky flappers and unconventional women. During the many set changes of the show, the crew were always silent and moved their pieces with impeccable timing and accuracy. The crew and technical categories of the show were done with professional diligence, pleasantly complementing the cast.

Portrayed with enthusiasm and tenacity, West Boca High School’s “Thoroughly Modern Millie” was a pleasing show filled with delightful dancing, hilarious scenes, and rich vocals. They gave much justice to this classic story, showing a life as crazy as Millie intended is quite possible “but “Only In New York”!

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By Andres Hernandez of The Sagemont School

It’s a new day in the city that never sleeps, and the incoming taxi cabs hint that a fresh batch of dreamers are ready to take the concrete jungle by storm. Some direct their talents towards the “Great White Way” in hopes of seeing their name in lights, while others head straight to Wall Street to start their climb up the corporate ladder. One particular young lady, however, has set her sights on a different goal: marrying rich!  She’s hot, she’s feisty, and she’s claiming the stage in West Broward High School’s toe-tapping production of “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”

Every classic musical has its humble beginnings, but “Thoroughly Modern Millie’s” rise to fame began as a 1967 film starring the magnificent Julie Andrews. Making its Broadway debut in 2002, the stage production follows the similar story of a small town girl named Millie Dillmount, who journeys from Kansas all the way to the big apple in pursuit of a wealthy husband. Encountering an eccentric singer, speedy secretaries, and even a corrupt concierge, Millie learns that money can’t buy happiness, and sometimes that thing called love, can be found where least expected.

Starring in any musical as the titular character is no easy feat, but Julianna Rector was up to the task and delivered a spirited performance as Millie. With a suitcase in one hand and a plane ticket in the other, Rector embodied Millie from wig to toe. Engaged and consistent throughout the performance, Rector seemed most in her element during scenes with Muzzy Van Hossmere, remarkably portrayed by Mina Marcelino. Marcelino dazzled as the world-famous singer Muzzy, and her stunning vocals commanded attention in the stand-out number, “Only in New York”.

Adding another dimension to the production were the strong-featured performances, most notably Noah Levin as Ching Ho and Carly Mandel and Bun Foo. An exceptional duo, Levin and Mandel shared genuine sibling chemistry with one another while speaking entirely in Mandarin. Their clean execution of an undeniably complex dialect should be applauded in and of itself, but most impressive was their ability to bring humor to the production while revealing layers to their seemingly simple characters.

A standout ensemble, the Priscilla Girls impressed with their consistent engagement and humorous interactions. While some performers could have benefitted from elevated energy and more animated facials, the entire cast should be commended for cleanly executing an array of entertaining dance numbers, all of which were critical to the general success of this production. Also, worthy of recognition, the stage management and crew did and fine job conducting swift and time scene changes, especially considering the cumbersome set pieces that needed to be transported on and off stage

Just as one New York fairy tale ends, a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed newbie rolls into town with dreams of their own to fulfil. Still, the iconic story of “Thoroughly Modern Millie” will live on forever, and the students of West Broward High School did their part to keep the memory alive.

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Reviews of Hair at Cypress Bay High School on Thursday, 3/09/2017.

By Jonathan Casner of Archbishop McCarthy High School

When the moon was in the Seventh House and Jupiter aligned with Mars’ Cypress Bay High School’s production of Hair revitalized the nostalgia and acid trips of the late 1960’s.

The original production of Hair opened on Broadway in April 1968 and was a result of the highly controversial Vietnam War that plagued the minds of Americans and “baby-boomers” alike. James Rado and Gerome Ragni wrote the book and lyrics. The composer was Galt MacDermot. After its original premiere, it ran for more than 1,750 performances and sparked other renditions, such as the London production of Hair and the movie that was released in 1979. The musical focuses on Claude, a young man who recently received his draft notice, and the members of the “Tribe,” a group of peace-loving hippies who are a product of the sexual revolution and the anti-Vietnam War peace movement.

The versatility and energy of the cast and ensemble were keystone components of Cypress Bay High School’s production of Hair. Each member of the Tribe had his or her own unique personality that was easily identifiable, no matter how small the role, however, there should be a warning sign for anyone in the front row since the tribe did not limit themselves to only the stage.

As Claude, Gabriel Hernandez displayed the most energy and depth on stage. Gabriel’s incredible vocals were best demonstrated in songs such as “Where Do I Go” and “Manchester, England.” As Sheila, Claude’s love interest, Samantha Burns had equally impressive vocal feats, especially in her solo, “Easy to be Hard.”

The success of the lead actors was dependent on the talents of the supporting cast members such as Berger, portrayed by Gianni Palermo, and Woof, portrayed by Adrian Machado. Samantha Lorrie, as Hiram, in particular set the standard for the choreography for the rest of the Tribe, as her dancing capabilities were unmatched. While there might have been occasional microphone blunders, the harmonious voices of the ensemble were never silenced.

What truly added to the spectacle of Hair were the open-concept set design and the clever use of lighting throughout the performance. While the set on the stage had multiple levels, the cast and crew of Cypress Bay High School incorporated other parts of their theatre to make the show feel more inclusive and personal. An impressive array of colors also showered the set in light, making every “Be-in” feel psychedelic.

Overall, Cypress Bay High School’s production of Hair was a success that transported the audience to the dawning of the “Age of Aquarius.”

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By Shea Simpson of Archbishop McCarthy High School

The Age of Aquarius has dawned upon us! So let down your hair, throw up a peace sign, put on your ripped blue jeans, and join Cypress Bay High School’s groovy Tribe of hippies in their psychedelic production of Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical!

With a book and lyrics written by James Rado and Gerome Ragni and music composed by Galt MacDermot, Hair first debuted off-Broadway in 1967, ultimately premiering on Broadway in April 1968. The show’s depiction of nudity, profanity, illegal drugs, and disrespect of the American flag led to much controversy, but the show still experienced great success. Numerous revivals began popping up all over the world, including a film adaption in 1979 and a Tony-winning Broadway revival in 2009. The show tells the story of a group of exuberant hippies, fighting against the draft into the Vietnam War. One of the leaders of the Tribe, Claude, is drafted to fight, and soon begins feeling conflicted on whether to remain in New York or fight, going against everything he’s protested for and ultimately putting his life at risk.

As the curtains began to open, the chromatic set established the hip and funky mood for the remainder of the performance. With a creative team lead by Danielle Gonzalez, Leonardo Biarrieta, Diego Ramirez, and Michael Valladares, the set consisted of multi-colored tapestries and scaffolding draped in colorful cloths and sheets. Also generating the ambient feel of the 1960’s was the choice of costuming. Though some outfits didn’t precisely fit the designated time period, most of the cast’s attire was fitting and resonated the vivacious time in the 60’s where bright colors were a staple in everyday fashion.

Leading the vibrant show was Gabriel Hernandez, portraying the conflicted draftee, Claude, whose commanding presence was felt throughout the entire performance. He showcased Claude’s strenuous struggle throughout the journey of the show, building this beautiful character arc starting from the joyous beginning of the show to the tragic and sorrowful ending. Alongside Hernandez were Samantha Burns and Gianni Palermo, playing the spirited roles of Sheila and Berger, respectively. The two actors shared such an organic chemistry with one another, lighting up the stage in every scene, both together and individually. Burns’ powerhouse vocals showcased in numbers such as “Easy to Be Hard” were awe inspiring, and leaving audience members roaring with applause

In a show with a significant amount of ensemble based numbers, a steadfast commitment is undoubtedly required from every single performer on stage. In this production, each ensemble member put their heart and soul into every song and scene, from the opening number to the finale. They overflowed with energy and passion, specifically in numbers such as “Hair” and “Aquarius,” never ceasing to stop acting as those rambunctious hippies protesting for peace, love, and harmony.

Cypress Bay’s vivacious rendition of the risqu� classic “Hair” dazzled audience members through their potent telling of the importance of fighting for peace and love, and ultimately being able to “Let The Sun Shine In” during such bleak and dark times.

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By Nya Hedman of South Plantation High School

Cypress Bay’s production of Hair screamed flower power, literally. With flowy shirts, groovy braids, and beads, of course, this show takes a journey to the hippie movement of 1960’s, New York.

Hair, the book and lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni, music by Galt MacDermot opened on Broadway in 1968 after its 1967 off-Broadway debut. The story follows a group of hippies known as the “Tribe” as they protest against the Vietnam War. The main character, Claude, is faced with a decision to make after being drafted, as he faces confliction between his revolutionary beliefs and the pressure of a conventional society.

Cypress Bay’s cast brought a wonderful energy to the production, creating a euphoria that was resonant throughout the entire ensemble. The show featured heavy audience interaction, which was effective in keeping the show engaging, but at times became distracting and detracted from important stage business. Terrific character relationships dominated the stage, presenting themselves undividedly throughout the cast.

Claude, played by Gabriel Hernandez, impressed with beautiful vocals and outstanding characterization. His internal struggle was well played and allowed a deeper plot to develop. Gianni Palermo’s portrayal of Berger was excellent, creating a hilarious character with perfect comedic timing. He consistently commanded the stage even when he was not the main focus of the scene. Samantha Burns as Sheila shined brilliantly by displaying her emotional connection with the character, as well as providing terrific vocals.

The ensemble never missed a beat supplying continuous energy and a genuine connection between their characters. The stage did become a bit overwhelming at times, due to the size of the cast and the eccentricity of each actor. However, the cast produced a crucial vibrancy that carried the story and permitted the plot to unfold.

The technical aspects of the show were critical for driving the story line and allowing a timeline to emerge. The costumes and set were the pivotal elements that truly transported the audience to the 1960’s by encompassing patterns and styles from that time period. Although there were some inconsistencies with the microphones, the sound was well timed and continuously on cue.

In short, terrific technical elements paired with vibrant characters allowed for a totally psychedelic experience.

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By Paul Levine of NSU University School

Come, Brother! Come, Sister! Come all to witness Cypress Bay High School’s miraculous production of HAIR!

Set in the 60’s, HAIR follows a Tribe of hippies living peacefully amongst the earth. All is well in their blissful, harmonious community. However, when pacifist Claude learns he has been called to serve in Vietnam, he must face a new reality: war. HAIR opened on Broadway at The Biltmore Theatre in mid-1968, where it ran for over four years. Although it opened on Broadway to many rave reviews, HAIR was immediately deemed controversial due to its themes of war, drugs, and sex. Nonetheless, the original production garnered two Tony nominations, leaving a lasting legacy.

Gabriel Hernandez (Claude) and Samantha Burns (Sheila) led the show. Both exhibited strong characterizations, which made their relationship and struggles very believable. Hernandez demonstrated vocal strength, stamina, and clarity through songs such as “Where Do I Go.” Burns featured her strong, yet endearing voice in solos like “Easy To Be Hard.” Supporting the show was Gianni Palermo as Berger. Palermo’s quick wit and exuberant energy added necessary lightness to the plot, especially during scenes that are more serious.

While the Tribe remained onstage the majority of the show, they kept the performance afloat with strong ensemble work, consistent energy, and unique mannerisms. The ensemble always worked as a team, making Adrian Machado and Amanda Ribnick’s student choreographed numbers appear natural and polished. Most importantly, they never broke character, exploring different quirks and habits. Very seldom does an ensemble pull off such a feat. Nathaniel Stoughton and Antonio Gasparolo were stand out performers, playing an elderly couple wonderfully. Their transformation from inquisitive conservatives to raunchy hooligans was a hysterical highlight of the evening.

Although sound was an issue throughout the whole performance, the other technical aspects of the show helped engulf the audience into the groovy setting. Costumes created by Machado and Co. were period appropriate and flashy. Although sometimes restricting to actors, all pieces looked gorgeous onstage. The sets, created by Gonzalez and Co., immersed the audience in The Age Of Aquarius. The actors efficiently utilized their full space, allowing for different levels and viewpoints. Chromatic color schemes of both costumes and sets contributed to a psychedelic atmosphere. Hair and makeup by Machado and Ramirez were executed very well, showcasing the unkempt, messy style of the era.

Cypress Bay High School successfully tackled a challenging, risqué piece of theater, taking the audience on a wild ride with their musically charged rendition of HAIR!

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By Aysha Zackria of NSU University School

When the moon is in the Seventh House and Jupiter aligns with Mars, Cypress Bay High School’s psychedelic production of Hair mesmerizes and intoxicates!

During the chaos of New York in late 1960s, the Tribe struggles between patriotism and their unorthodox lifestyle. Due to the Vietnam War, Claude is forced to reconcile his apparent duty to his country with the compelling bond he has with his friends and home. With book and lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni and music by Galt MacDermot, Hair originally premiered Off-Broadway in 1967, winning a Grammy in 1968, and was eventually adapted into a film in 1979. The musical had three Broadway revivals in 1977, 2009 and 2011. The 2009 revival was nominated for eight Drama Desk Awards and eight Tony Awards, winning one of each.

Gabriel Hernandez, playing Claude, showed strong juxtaposition between his carefree bliss and his unshakable vexation, making the character believable and unfaltering. He was able to alter the tone of his voice to match the intensity of the music and story. His resolute physicality and powerful expression contributed to the realistic gravity of his situation. Samantha Burns, as Sheila, spread the “groovy revolution” with consistent conviction. Like Hernandez, she drew the audience in with relaxed, bubbly joy and genuine sorrow. Her adaptability and rich voice were showcased in her beautifully executed solo, “Easy to Be Hard”.

Gianni Palermo, as Berger, was animated and engaging, bringing life into the show. His definite movement and speech were unique and eye-catching. Nathaniel Stoughton, playing Margaret M, was fully committed to his comedic physicality and expression. His larger-than-life persona made the audience burst out laughing on multiple occasions. Adrian Machado, as Woof, and Samantha Lorie, as Hiram, stood out with movements that were not only deliberate, but also flowing and seemingly natural. Daniela Machado, playing Ronny, had a phenomenal stage presence and energy that motivated others. She exuded confidence and embodied the far out nature of “Aquarius”. Although it was difficult to understand and hear some of the actors, it was made up for in striking harmonies and constant engagement from the Tribe.

The set, by Danielle Gonzalez, Leandro Biarrieta, Diego Ramirez, and Michael Valladares, invoked the vibes of the 60s with its bright tie-dye and lively color palette. The use of scaffolding as platforms added to the rawness of the show. It worked well with the costumes, by Adrian Machado, Daniela Machado, Samantha Lorie, and Co., which had the same dynamic spirit. Hair and Makeup, by Daniela Machado and Diego Ramirez, supported the characters’ tendency towards intentional unkemptness. A large number of cast members had long, flowing wigs, which were absolutely essential to the show.

There aren’t enough words for the beauty, the splendor, the wonder of Cypress Bay High School’s production of Hair

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Reviews of Everyman at St. Thomas Aquinas High School on Sunday, 3/05/2017.

By Eve Cohen of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High

What does one take with them when they are facing the burdensome denouement we call death. Is it the sociable condolences of fellowship? The temporal greed of goods? These allegorical characters are used to portray the traits that Everyman hopes will accompany her on her journey to cessation. Will they forsake or accept her longing plea for admission? Find out in St.Thomas Aquinas’s poignant production of “Everyman”.

Written by Mark J. Costello, “Everyman” is a modern adaptation of the original play published in the late 15th century by John Skot. This symbolic piece of work digs into the various moral attributes that a man must obtain in order to reach salvation. The decision to make Everyman a gender neutral role was successful and never compromised the intent of the character.  Each role in the play is a contemporary interpretation of a human characteristic. The abilities to cater the production to be relatable to today’s generation made a rather classical play unique and enjoyable.

Desperate for companionship and brimming with false hope, Everyman, portrayed by Emma Seeger, remained persistent in her emotional engagement regarding her dreaded decease.  She ultimately understood the impassioned intensity her character called for. From the disheartening moments where each character forsook requests to join her on the pilgrimage to death, to the forcefully compelling outcry wrapping up the first act, Seeger displayed skillful abilities and passionate commitment to a sensibly difficult role.

The progressive characters asked to accompany Everyman all brought distinctive personalities to the table. Each excelled individually in the stylistic approach of their roles through bold and unexpected choices. Two actors that stood out in particular were Matthew Jahnes (fellowship) and Samara Chahine (goods). Jahnes, embodying a boisterous and easy-going frat boy, perfectly captured the lively spirit and delight that fellowship represents. Chahine, portraying a shopping obsessed and self centered narcissist, completely understood the materialistic needs revolving goods and personal possessions. Both were able to clearly portray the stereotypes they were given, consistently adding to the enjoyment of the story.

There were no significant technical issues throughout the show. Sound by Lindsay Ahmed and Co. had the perfect balance of microphone amplification to background music; however, the choice to use music with lyrics embedded frequently made it difficult to focus on the scene itself. The song choices didn’t seem to fit the mood of the play and were often distracting. The lighting and set, nevertheless, did properly fit the suspenseful essence of the show. The concentrated spotlight used every time Everyman was forsaken helped add intimacy to each character’s story. Although rather simple and at times inconsistent, costumes by Gillian Haelzel and Co. were nicely synchronized. The red and grey color scheme was a justified selection that made for a cohesive ensemble.

“God have mercy on us all”. “Everyman” beautifully encompassed the mercy and compassion that God gives to those who will soon face their deaths. Similar to how Everyman is fighting to bring her closest companions with her when the end is near, St.Thomas fights to bring energy and passion to a rather dismal and depressing show, and they completely succeeded in their efforts. St.Thomas Aquinas’s thrilling production is a show that “Everyman” is sure to enjoy.

*** *** ***

By Bianca Mota of Boca Raton High School

Abstract ideas come to life, conveying an underlying message through personified versions of Death, Knowledge, Good Deeds and more! That’s the scoop behind St. Thomas Aquinas’s performance of Everyman this Sunday Afternoon.

The concept that Everyman introduces is that ones good deeds and wrongdoings will be essential in any encounter with death. Everyman must find someone to embark with her, in this case, on a path towards awakening and death itself. Symbolically, all of her seemingly beloved companions such as Fellowship, Goods, and Kin, abandoned her to her doom, leaving behind only what she had created herself; Good Deeds and Knowledge.

A notable performance was done as Good Deeds (Alexa Hui) who was constantly showcasing her genuine and sincere character. Her characterization was key to the relation of ones good deeds to life itself. Goods (Samara Chahine) also shone in her interpretation of a superficial personality, getting a good laugh from the crowd. As the primary focus of the show, Everyman (Emma Seeger) delivered a relatable character which showed the audience consistently contrasting emotions. Everyman’s Thoughts also presented organized choreographed movement and well-crafted expressions to embody the judgments and musings of Everyman.

The ensemble of the play did a commendable job and were just as fascinating to watch as the named characters-if not more! Described as the “Death Minions”, this group spent the entirety of the show onstage. Not breaking character once, each member was fully engaged in embodying the darkness set by Death.

The crew of Everyman certainly kept the show running smoothly with dramatic shifts in lighting and inconceivable mic changes. The set was well manipulated with choreography that combined to form illusions onstage. The introduction video done by Chis Rodriguez was used to set the show in modern times as well as to emphasize the materialistic views of today’s society. At times the score diverted attention from the plot; however, the modern music was cordial to the audience.

This show had a unique factor, as it personified abstract ideas to identify the correct morals of humans. The cast and crew truly stressed the symbolic values of the play and the lessons it had to teach. The touch of choreographed movement was distinctive from other plays, and brought a mental image into action. The director’s choice of costuming the notional characters was significant in assisting character development. In a technical manner the show was professional and effective.

With a strong message and intricate characters, St. Thomas Aquinas High School’s production of Everyman presented a well-constructed piece, giving the audience a philosophical enlightenment.

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By Andres Hernandez of The Sagemont School

Every man craves divinity. Every man craves the celestial light. Every man craves peace. There are certain states of being that every man strives to attain, but sometimes the very qualities that make them possible, forsake us. It is this abstract concept that St. Thomas Aquinas High School brought to the stage in their thought-provoking rendition of the 15th-century play, “Everyman”.

Originally a morality play of an unknown author, “Everyman” was recently modernized by Mark J. Costello, who at the time was a student at Villanova University. In this new take on a classic piece, Costello reprised the character of Everyman, a seemingly average human who has been notified by Death of their approaching fatality. Coming face-to-face with the figments of their being, Everyman must learn to rely on one’s self, even when it seems as though there is nowhere to turn.

Being tasked with tackling the titular role is never an easy feat, but Emma Seeger managed to bring unwavering intensity to the role of Everyman. While on her journey to self-righteousness, Seeger interacted with an array of imaginary concepts, all of which contributed to the growth of her character. At the pinnacle of her misery, Seeger created a powerful moment onstage while praying to God. She cried: “In a world of pain and sorrow, you are the only one who saves us from destruction”. It was in this pivotal instant that Everyman realized she must save herself, and God can only provide the necessary tools to do so.

Adding another dimension to the production were the commendable secondary performances, most notably Alexa Hui as Good-Deeds and Samara Chahine as Goods. Hui carried herself with an ethereal aura, personifying her benevolent nature through her gentle voice and delicate mannerisms. In a sort of juxtaposition of morals, Chahine represented the self-serving side of Everyman. Sporting a handmade skirt crafted entirely of shopping bags, Good’s materialistic ideals were brought to life through Chahine’s haughty characterization and pompous strut.

While some characters could have benefitted from a bit more emotional commitment in their respective roles, the entire cast and crew should be applauded for seeking an artistic viewpoint and bringing it to life onstage. One of the most fascinating elements of the show was the ensemble of Death’s Minions. Mysterious figures throughout, this gang of sweatsuit-wearing entities hovered around Everyman with eerie anticipation, foreshadowing the deed of death they would eventually have to fulfill. Choreographed by student Alexa Hui, the movements of Death’s Minions were dynamic and well-executed, especially during the final scene of Act I. Although occasionally out of place, the sound design brought a modern flare to the production and built suspense in more intense scenes.

Everyman represents all of mankind. To delve into the human psyche and fight our inner demons is to finally attain divinity, peace, and the celestial light. When all was said and done, the students of St. Thomas Aquinas High School were able to fight off the demons of the live theatre to deliver a performance that was both spirited and inventive.

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By Fiona Baquerizo of American Heritage School

What if this very moment was your last? What if the Almighty God descended from above, extending his hand for you to take, leading you toward the gates above? What would you bring with you? More importantly, what would agree to take the journey? Would it be your friends, goods, and beauty? Or the values you have over looked, knowledge and good deeds? Saint Thomas Aquinas’s production of Everyman answered these questions and shone a light on which principles truly define one’s fleeting time on Earth.

In medieval times, theatre was strongly bonded to the Catholic Church. Actors explored religion through three types of plays: mystery, miracle, and morality. Written by an anonymous playwright in the fifteenth century, Everyman is a morality play that explores life’s most important values through allegory. It follows Everyman, a representation of human kind, on his peregrination toward death. He seeks out the values he believes to be eternal, only to be disappointed when they leave him.

Lead actress Emma Seeger (Everyman) tackled a demanding role usually played by a male. Her gender, though, did not stop her. She maintained acute focus throughout her performance; to conquer her countless lines and movement required a great deal of stamina. Supporting the show was actor Benjamin Tripp (Knowledge). Tripp’s stage presence, along with his grounded movements, allowed him to take charge on stage as well as give attention to his fellow actors when needed. This show introduces many characters, all manifestations of values, such as beauty, discretion, and strength. Two featured actors, however, truly stood out: Matthew Jahnes (Fellowship) and Samara Chahine (Goods). Jahnes demonstrated a commendable emotional range. He had exciting energy in his moments of loyalty as well as honestly in his dramatic betrayal to Everyman. Chahine had an impressive character development. Every moment she was on stage, she exuded the perfect elitist attitude, exploring dramatic and comedic timing while playing off the others onstage. She gave a truly captivating performance.

The glue to this production was the ensemble of Death’s minions. Their undying focus and mastery of conceptual choreography kept the story moving and filled the stage with life- or should I say death! Student choreographer Alexa Hui created innovative stage pictures and movement. Some of the highlights include Death controlling his minions with the force of his hands. Technically, the crew was solid. They seamlessly managed numerous microphone changes and nicely balanced the music levels with the performers’ outputs. Notably, Chris Rodriguez edited a wonderful introduction video of popular music videos, setting the tone for the modern adaptation.

At times, there were lapses in the modern concept. Some dance numbers seemed unmotivated and the music was more distracting than supporting. While the concept showed originality, it fell short in its execution. Many actors lacked fully developed character arcs, so a great portion of scenes were on one note, instead of gradually building up to and falling from a climax. Scenes lasted with the characters faced completely profile, cutting off the audience from connecting to the piece. There was a need of distinguishable relationships, which would have helped enhance suspense and elucidate the plot line.

Despite these faults, the cast and crew of Saint Thomas Aquinas’s production of Everyman was filled with commitment. They undertook a play that requires advanced textual comprehension and made it understandable in today’s world. They took the audience on a journey from life on Earth to the unknown depths of the afterlife. They taught the pettiness of materials and the utmost importance of piety, showing what truly matters. So to answer the question: What would you bring with you? You must see this show to find out!

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By Nicole Sugarman of JP Taravella High School

“Rich in wealth, but poor in faith.” Everyman’s demise looms near, and she is forced to ponder this troublesome question: “If I die, must I die alone?” The cast of St. Thomas Aquinas High School’s Everyman answers this heavy question and presents a thought-provoking and captivating piece of theatre.

Everyman is a morality play based on the struggles Everyman faces as she pleads for someone to accompany her to her day of reckoning. Written by Mark J. Costello, from Villanova University’s Theatre program, this version differs greatly from the original play, which premiered in the late 15th century written by an unknown author. St. Thomas Aquinas High School displays a modern take on the play, presenting a more relatable version through the addition of pop culture references, Spoken Word, the input of familiar music, and a Modern English translation. Using allegorical characters, Everyman examines the idea that at one’s time of death, all they can bring with them are their good-deeds; nothing else.

As a result of a gender-blind casting process, the role of Everyman, generally played by a male, was portrayed by a female, Emma Seeger. Seeger acquired an obviously strong command of the text and accurately portrayed Everyman’s moments of distress, as well as moments full of hope and contentment. Good-Deeds, portrayed by Alexa Hui, displayed the kindness and compassion of her character exquisitely. Hui was able to quickly develop a strong relationship with Everyman, as well as the other characters in the production. Benjamin Tripp, playing Knowledge, gave an excellent performance, creating an authentic character and never losing involvement in the scene, regardless of whether he was speaking or not.

Portraying the role of Goods, Samara Chahine gave a compelling performance, beautifully depicting the given materialistic stereotype. Rachel Alston, Bianca Brutus, and Sara Fernandez DeCastro collectively played the role of Everyman’s thoughts. Through their use of Spoken Word, as well as their inflection and diction, they were able to flawlessly convey Everyman’s thoughts and punctuate especially important moments in the play.

Death’s Minions were extremely successful in enhancing ominous moments in the play, as well as creating visually pleasing pictures onstage. The menacing minions remained in the moment without cessation, worked well together as a unit, and kept still for incredibly long periods of time, displaying immense focus.

The simplistic and versatile set in this production was effective in its uses and allowed for seamless transitions. In particular, the use of the black cubes to construct the coffin was truly spectacular. The lighting in this production assisted in creating suspense during intense or climactic moments and overall enhanced the play. Most of the music selections were appropriate and complemented the scenes quite nicely. However, some selections were not as suitable. Additionally, the lyrics of the songs were a bit distracting and made it slightly challenging to hear the dialogue.

St. Thomas Aquinas High School’s intriguing production of Everyman allows one to think about the brevity of life, the insignificance of materialistic goods, and the importance of good deeds.

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Reviews of Fiddler on the Roof at NSU University School on Saturday, 3/4/2017.

By Daniel Agmon of JP Taravella High School

“Life has a way of confusing us” but there was nothing confusing about NSU’s outstanding production of “Fiddler on the Roof” which was “laden with happiness and tears”.

With book by Joseph Stein, music composed by Jerry Bock, and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, the critically acclaimed musical debuted on Broadway in 1964 winning nine Tony awards including “Best Musical”. The film adaption was released seven years later. Based off the book written by Sholem Aleichem, “Fiddler on the Roof”  takes place in Imperial Russia during the early 1900s, in a small rural village. Tevye, a poor Jewish milkman, and his family of five daughters and wife, Golde, narrates the hardships Jews had to face in this era. Tevye confronts his morals and his wishes for his daughters’ happiness as their upcoming marriages consume his thoughts.

Andrew Singer captured the heartwarming Tevye with impeccable comedic timing and tremendous vocals in songs like “If I Were A Rich Man” and “To Life” bringing the show to a first class level. Singer demonstrated profound character development throughout the production as he gradually accepted his daughters’ wishes until his third daughter declared her intention to marry a non-Jew. He executed the contrasting dramatic moments with riveting believability. Singer’s motivations were sophisticated and awe-inspiring, noteworthy in his talks with God, and when he fights with his third daughter Chava, portrayed by Julia Musso. Ayla Maulding depicted Tevye’s strict wife, Golde, with surreal vocals, gracing her character with a new depth. Singer and Maudling’s chemistry was beautiful, especially in “Do You Love Me? ”

Tevye’s eldest daughter, Tzeitel, portrayed by Yuval Benit achieved organic reactions and tremendous motivations for passionate love for the humble tailor, Motel, portrayed by Jared Cohen. Benit and Cohen delivered authentic moments that made their love even sweeter.  Sivan Ben David danced exceptionally well as a featured dancer and charmingly contributed to “Tevye’s Dream” as the frightening Fruma Sarah.  Ben Crawford, made commendable use of his short stage time, by his humorous portrayal of the Rabbi.

The villagers, as a whole, should be praised for their challengingly hard work. The animated energetic dances choreographed by Yuval Benit were phenomenal. The songs were harmonious and melodious, noteworthy in “Tradition. ”  The physicality of the Jews compared to the embodiment of the actors portraying the authoritative Russian soldiers helped signify the contrasts in their relationships.

Technically, the show was faultless; with an outstanding lighting design by Tal Kochav and company, setting the pink hues in the romantic scenes, compared to the vibrant orange sunset during the more intense moments. Picturesque costumes were time period appropriate, and the facial hair very realistically created by the makeup department. The live orchestra was an impeccable addition that enhanced this outstanding performance.  Andrew Singer made a wonderful publicity design which Josh Gad gave a shout out to on Twitter.

NSU University School’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof”  was nothing short of a “miracle of miracles” offering a delightful night at the theater while teaching acceptance towards breaking of traditions – and l’chaim.  To Life!

*** *** ***

By Lindsey Beyda of Coral Glades High School

NSU University School’s production of Fiddler On the Roof was amazing, “on the other hand” it was also phenomenal. With an almost professional-level set, exquisite time period costumes, and unbeatable vocals, there was very little that could take away from the reality of the show.

With songwriters Jerry Brock and Sheldon Harnick and librettist Joseph Stein, Fiddler on the Roof was nominated for 9 Tony Awards including Best Musical and Book. The story centers around Tevye, a poor milkman, and his five daughters. Set in the small village of Anatevka in the 1900’s imperial Russia with an extremely traditional community, Tevye struggles to provide for his family and often talks about wanting to provide a better life for them. When the eldest daughter, Tzeitel, begs her father to let her marry her love, everything begins to spiral out of control. In the beginning, Tevye is pretty lenient about altering their tradition, but when his third eldest daughter marries a Russian man outside of their little town, that is the last straw. Everything goes downhill from there when the village people are driven from their Anatevka.

The leading man, Andrew Singer (Tevye), did a spectacular job of portraying the loving father figure; there wasn’t a moment in the show where his believability faltered. His outstanding vocals were the cherry on top of his already spectacular performance. Between his anger towards the loss of tradition and effortless comedic moments, Singer can do it all. Another notable appearance was made by Ben Crawford (Rabbi), although his stage time was extremely limited, Crawford made the best of it with his amusing and memorable acting choices.

Tevye’s counterpart, Golde, was portrayed by Ayla Maulding. Mauling proved her talent though consistent vocals and obvious character development. During act one she acted as the more stern parent who wanted the best for her daughters whether or not it was what they wanted, but in act two you see a shift where she supports and loves her daughters despite the decisions they make. Yuval Benit (Tzeitel) showcased both the bold and vulnerable aspects of her character. Not to mention her undeniable father-daughter chemistry with Singer. Benit appeared to have a special bond with her sisters, Hodel and Chava, and was the trailblazer that began the chain of tradition breaking.

The technical crew deserves to be immensely commended for their efficient set changes and creative use of lighting. Each scene change was done in a timely manor with only about one or two stumbles in the process. The use of lighting to isolate Tevye from the scene during his pleas to God worked to their advantage. With the perfect set you need the perfect costumes and NSU managed to achieve that goal. Every character was dressed in something that reflected the time period of the show, along with their characters personalities.

Mazel Tov! To NSU University School’s cast and crew for putting on a fabulous production of Fiddler On the Roof.

*** *** ***

By Sam Segreto of Archbishop McCarthy High School

Shalom! Mazel Tov!  As the good book says, NSU University School’s production of Fiddler on the Roof was truly a “miracle of miracles” as it hit the stage with its vivacious cast and remarkable crew.

Set in a small village known as Anatevka in Imperial Russia, Fiddler on the Roof’s story centers on Tevye, a poor milkman and the father of five daughters. The conflict revolves around his attempts to maintain his Jewish religious and cultural traditions as outside influences invade upon the family’s lives. He must also cope with the strong-willed personalities of the women in his life as they too drift from cultural norms.

The ensemble’s enthusiasm and dedication to their characters carried the show seamlessly. With large musical numbers such as, “Tradition, ” and “The Wedding, ” the cast pulled off all the difficult aspects of this complex classic. Whether it was sliding across the stage while balancing bottles or holding harmonies to accompany the hauntingly beautiful live orchestra, the ensemble never skipped a beat.

Andrew Singer in his role of Tevye, once again did not disappoint. Whether he was falsely quoting the “good book, ” giving a quick-witted response, or expressing his internal struggle as a traditional man of the Jewish faith, Singer’s prominent stage presence and sensational voice echoed in the hearts of the audience. He also proved his skill with managing a character who transforms from a loving, flexible father, to a stern and traditional parent. His chemistry with his strong willed, sarcastic wife, Golde (played by Ayla Maulding) provided family-like atmosphere, making the production even more realistic for the audience. Maulding molded into her character and showcased her wonderful technique in both her vocals and comedic timing, in turn producing a perfect foil for her counterpart in Singer.

Likewise, the courageous Tzeitel (Yuval Benit) and Motel (Jared Cohen) were standouts in this production with their portrayal of youthful love and dedication to their family and faith. Their genuine warmth and chemistry as a couple radiated off the stage and to the seats of the theater. Additionally, Benit especially shined in a performance with her sisters in the number, “Matchmaker, ” proving both her skills as a dancer and a vocalist.

Powerful images of silhouettes displayed before certain scenes with the enriching hues of blues, purples, greens, and oranges added a strong, evocative effect to the show. Along with the perfectly timed lighting and sound cues, the scene changes were accomplished with ease and efficiency, which proves to be very difficult with such a large cast. Set pieces were also intricate, including small details that are essential in the Jewish faith.

As Tzeitel says, “even a poor tailor is entitled to happiness. ” Well, the cast and crew of NSU University School’s production of Fiddler on the Roof surely didn’t disappoint as the sun set upon the village of Anatevka, the lights dimmed on the stage in The Silverman Auditorium, and the wistful sound of a fiddle faded into the back.

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By Bella Stevens  of Coral Glades High School

With tradition at their side, the cast and crew of NSU University School and their production of “Fiddler on the Roof” was a match made so impressive, not even the village Matchmaker could argue otherwise.

Based on stories by Sholem Aleichem, “Fiddler on the Roof”  takes place in the small Jewish village of Anatevka in Imperial Russia during the early 1900’s. The plot revolves around Tevye, a father to five beautiful daughters, as he struggles to balance both his Jewish culture and traditions with the outside world’s opposing influences. With music by Jerry Bock, book by Joseph Stein, and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, the original production opened on Broadway in 1964 and won nine Tony Awards. Since, the show has been revived five times, and was even produced into a movie in 1971.

Commanding the stage and hearts of the audience as father figure Tevye, was Andrew Singer. Through his convincing character choices, body language, and compassionate connection to his character Singer gave a performance that in short, acted as a prime example of what could be found on a professional stage. In contrasting numbers, such as “If I Were a Rich Man, ” and “Chaveleh, ” Singer used impeccable comedic timing, strong vocal presentation, and sincere emotion which assisted him in portraying his character with the perfect balance of both wit and grace. Alongside, Tevye was his wife Golde, played by Ayla Maulding. Also showcasing strength in comedic timing and vocal performance, Maulding brought life to her motherly character through sharp commentary and honest benevolence. The pair exhibited wonderful chemistry, and used one another as excellent assets towards their character development.

Standing up for love and breaking family tradition as Tevye’s three oldest daughters were Yuval Benit, Cami Stankus, and Julia Musso. From the get go, the ladies created harmony amongst themselves and musically in the number “Matchmaker. ” As the show continued, however, each actress did a spectacular job of progressing their own individual plot lines. Stand out was Yuval Benit, who played the eldest of the girls, Tzeitel. Benit not only lead the concept of change amongst the sisters, but used her exquisite leadership skills in choreographing majority of the productions intricate and high energy dance numbers, which appropriately resembled true Jewish culture. Playing her love interest Motel, the poor village tailor, was Jared Cohen, who also gave an excellent performance especially in “Miracles of Miracles, ” where the audience had the opportunity to watch the young couple’s relationship flourish.

Technically, the production’s set was not only visually appealing but extremely well designed and constructed. Kenny Duecker and construction team, under the guidance of stage manager Ally Lowits did a stellar job of efficiently creating a multipurpose set which fit both the time-period and underling message of the show. Complimenting the set, was lighting operated by Frederico Pohls and crew. Although some actors were facially caught in the dark at times throughout the show, their lighting overall beautifully followed and enhanced the tone of the emotion on stage. All aspects mentioned, in addition to costuming, made the entire production once again seamlessly feel as if it was produced by professionals.

Together cast and crew brought the musical “To Life. ” Their work show cased professionalism and true talent that lingered over the audience the same way The Fiddler on the Roof did so over the villagers Anatevka.

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By Allie Posner of Boca Raton High School

This captivating story of Tevya and his five daughters teaches lessons of Jewish tradition and breaking away from that tradition through several stories of love and learning at a time of hardship for the Jewish people.

Fiddler on the Roof was originally written by Sheldon Harnick and Joseph Stein and appeared on Broadway in 1964 and recently in 2015. The production outlines the traditions of a small town called Anatevka where not much has changed since the Jewish people began inhabiting it. Through Tevya and his eldest three daughters, we get to see times changing as the daughters begin to fall in love without the assistance of a matchmaker. As conflicts arise, Tevya is torn between family and tradition, until a group of outsiders to the Jewish people decide for him.

NSU University School’s production of Fiddler, with the help of an exquisitely constructed minimalistic set, demonstrated a flawlessly time period appropriate and aesthetically pleasing show. With high energy dance sequences and enough tradition to make anyone want to attend synagogue, NSU’s cast of extremely talented high schoolers and middle schoolers carried the complex plot along with ease while also demonstrating pitch perfect vocals.

When it comes down to the leading players Tevya played by Andrew Singer and Golde played by Ayla Maulding played a couple that was not only believable but encaptivating to watch develop. Singer’s comedic timing as a father was wonderfully matched with a rough and tough side that every father has. Maulding on the other hand used a unique  motherly charm to get her way around the house and earn respect from her daughters and husband. This pairing worked well together and showcased their vocals are a pair in the number “Do You Love Me?. ”

Tevya’s eldest three daughters got to show their sisterly connection in the number “Matchmaker. ” After this number each one gains an individual love story that tests their father Tevya. The eldest, Tzeitel, played by Ella Berkeley shows heavy emotion after an incident on her wedding day. Along with Hodel and Chava played by Cami Stankus and Hayley Nash respectively, the three sisters were always engaging when they appeared on stage together and separately. However, the villagers synchronized yet stylized choreography made all production numbers such as “To Life” so fantastic.

Not only did NSU’s technical crew provide beautiful silhouettes throughout the show using the cyc and the set and a backlighting effect on isolated actors, they also did a flawless job hiding what the audience wasn’t supposed to see. With smooth scene changes and professional stage crew, the transitions were easy on the eyes. Tech overall did a marvelous job keeping the show in full motion and providing the actors with the tools they needed to execute the show to the best of their abilities.

NSU provided a show that was more than what is expected from any high school. With each cast member chosen as if by a matchmaker, the entire cast’s energy and dedication truly put together a production worthy of a toast. To life!! L’Chaim!!

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By Shea Simpson of Archbishop McCarthy High School

Shalom! Welcome to the quaint shtel of Anatevka, where matches are made, tradition is broken, and rabbis pray over sewing machines. Experience this “Miracle of Miracles” in University School’s exemplary and traditional production of Fiddler on the Roof.

Originally inspired by Sholem Aleichem’s “Tevye and His Daughters,” Fiddler on the Roof first opened on Broadway in 1964, running for over 10 years and acquiring nine Tony Awards. The highly successful show was followed by five Broadway revivals and a film adaptation in 1971. Taking place in imperialistic Russia in the early 1900s, Fiddler on the Roof tells the story Tevye, a poor Jewish milkman who believes in the power and importance of maintaining tradition. Throughout the musical, Tevye is faced multiple times with the unthinkable predicament of breaking tradition, for his three eldest daughters wish to marry for love and slowly begin straying away from what is customary of their faith.

Immediately as the lights dimmed and the animated cast began singing their first note, every eye was admiring the incredible attention to detail placed throughout all aspects of the show. Each set piece and costume was perfectly crafted to fit the appropriate setting in each scene, and helped further this sublime story of the importance of family and tradition. There were numerous light cues called throughout the show that helped create a certain ambience in every individual scene, whether it was a bright spotlight on Tevye during his monologues or a dark, ominous wash as everyone was somberly vacating Anatevka.

Dominating the production from the minute he walked on until the final number was Andrew Singer, portraying the iconic role of Tevye. There wasn’t a single moment in his performance where his energy and enthusiasm for the character dropped, for he had every audience member wrapped around his finger with his unfaltering comedic timing. In his song “If I Were a Rich Man,” Singer sang and danced fluidly, receiving a greatly deserved amount of laughter from the audience. Also deserving recognition is Ayla Maulding for her portrayal as Golde, the true strength and voice of reason in the family. Both her quick wit and superior vocal abilities were showcased in numbers such as “Sabbath Prayer” and “Do You Love Me.” These two actors established an astounding connection with one another and undoubtedly brought to life such memorable and iconic characters.

In the large group numbers of the show such as “Tradition” and “To Life,” the ensemble worked together to create such an organic and collective energy between one another, putting their heart and soul into each harmony and complex dance combination. Their technique and synchronization captivated audience members, dazzling them with outstanding feats such as the iconic bottle dance during the wedding scene. Their consistent energy and enthusiasm elevated the performance and brought it to a whole new level of professionalism and entertainment.

University School immaculately presented a classic piece of theatre, putting on a show most definitely “laden with happiness and tears.” Through their authentic performance, the cast left audience members both laughing and crying, cheering “Mazel Tov” for their incredible job well done!

*** *** ***

Reviews of Shrek at Palm Beach Central High School on Friday, 3/04/2017.

By Aaron Avidon of West Boca High School

The students at Palm Beach Central superbly bring to life a story of love, humor and individuality in their energetic production of “Shrek The Musical.”

Originally based on a book by William Steig, before being turned into the monstrous cinematic saga we now know today, the story of “Shrek” centers on its eponymous protagonist, an isolated ogre living alone in his hut in the swamp. However, a tyrannical pint-sized king to be, Lord Farquaad, dumps a slew of legendary fairy-tale creatures in Shrek’s lap. Much to his dismay, Shrek is chosen as their spokesperson, sent to regain their rights. What follows is a story of daring rescues, unexpected romance, and the lesson to love who you really are.

Our hero, Shrek himself, played by Brian d’Arcy James in the original cast, is brought to life by actor Brian Heredia. Heredia has little issue portraying the character, adding comedic dance moves and facial expressions to the part, making his on-stage performance seem fun and enjoyable to watch. However, solo numbers like “When Words Fail” reveal to us the real Shrek, who only wants to be loved despite his harsh exterior. His “noble steed,” Donkey, played by Stephen Coley, has you laughing the entire show. The delivery of his one-liners and his comedic timing are both superb, and make his character one worth watching every minute he is on stage.

Hannah Baker, in the role of Princess Fiona, shows us the dimensions of a sweet girl with a razor-sharp edge. From happily singing around the forest in Act 2 opener “Morning Person, ” to lamenting about her dreadful life in a tower in hilarious duet “I Think I’ve Got You Beat, ” Baker brings the character into fruition with ease.

Aside from these characters, there are many more that really bring the show to life. Leading the charge is miniature madman, Lord Farquaad, played by Ben Shaevitz. In the role, Shaevitz has you laughing from the moment he is on stage. His stage presence, superbly funny acting, and overall strong singing in great numbers like “What’s Up, Duloc? ” and “The Ballad of Farquaad” can’t be beat, especially with the addition of the great ensemble for Shaevitz to play off of and create chemistry with. Specifically in the latter number, Farquaad and his Knights play off each other perfectly, creating hilarious scenes with over-the-top energy.

The Fairytale Creatures are a tour de force that can’t be ignored. This colorful cast of weirdos hold your attention the whole time they’re on stage, and during numbers like “Story of My Life” and “Freak Flag, ” we see a united and well-functioning group of performers who have no problem waving around their true colors. Though some vocals may have lacked energy, the full cast harmonies at the end of “Freak Flag” and show closer “I’m a Believer” are superb.

Overall, the students at Palm Beach Central have created a wonderful show with a ton of humor and just as much heart.

*** *** ***

By Maya Quinones of Deerfield Beach High School

From your local movie theatre to the Broadway stage, this fairytale with an unlikely hero reminds us to let our Freak Flag fly! Palm Beach Central High School’s delightful production of “Shrek the Musical” transports us to the ‘Big Bright Beautiful World’ of an angry Ogre on a brave quest.

The hilarious adaptation of the DreamWorks animated classic, “Shrek the Musical” was the last thing New Yorkers expected to see in the 2008 Broadway lineup. Bizarre as it seemed, this charming production proves that you can’t judge a playbill by its cover, especially when that cover includes big name Broadway sensations Sutton Foster and Brian d’Arcy James. “Shrek the Musical” took home the Tony Award for Best Costume Design, no doubt due to the brilliant character design of Shrek, a green prosthetic that would make Elphaba jealous. With music by Jeanine Tesori and book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire, this show is filled with familiar theatre references that transcend it from a children’s film to a Broadway triumph.

Deep in the swamp of Lord Farquaad’s kingdom, we are introduced to Shrek (Brian Heredia), a reclusive Ogre with a mind for messiness. When the local fairytale creatures are exiled to his coveted swamp, Shrek embarks on a journey to get back his territory. Heredia seemed right at home in his pea green makeup and foot high boots, his booming Scottish accent frightening innocent fairytale creatures and brave knights alike. Behind his intimidating exterior, Heredia revealed touching moments of vulnerability throughout his journey, as we realize that this “big smelly Ogre” isn’t quite what we thought he was. Stuck in a tower for twenty years, Hannah Baker quite convincingly shows the frustration (and insanity) of Fiona, an isolated woman dreaming of a Prince Charming. Together, the two complete an unconventional but heartwarming love story. Watching the action and supporting Shrek along the way is Donkey, portrayed hilariously by Stephen Coley, his soulful voice and comic wit providing a delightful energy to the performance.

In a world where being different gets you banished, the gang of fairytale creatures is determined to take a stand. Led triumphantly by Pinocchio (Victoria Lobdell), they joined hands, paws, and wings together in a united effort to fight for the greater good. A truly cohesive ensemble, the fairy tale creatures showcased distinct characterizations with dazzling costumes and makeup. Despite the absence of mics for a majority of the ensemble, every member appeared genuinely engaged and excited to be telling their story.

Like a scene ripped right out a storybook, painted picturesque woodsy trees provided the foundation of the set and made it appear as if the audience was observing a fantastical illustration. Set changes were managed well by the crew, as various set pieces were wheeled on and off stage with ease, underscored by an upbeat instrumental. Crafty props allowed for exploding birds and detailed road signs, maps, and protest posters to elevate the atmosphere, transporting the audience into a world of wonder.

“Shrek the Musical” encourages us to take pride in what makes us different. Human beings, like Ogres, have layers upon layers of characteristics that make us special. Palm Beach Central High School’s production embraces this, proving that even an Ogre can be hero.

*** *** ***

By Melissa Kean of Piper High School

What’s stinky, cranky, and green all over? Why, Shrek of course! Palm Beach Central High Schools’ production of “Shrek the Musical” brought you to the odd town of Duloc and taught you a few lessons about love and acceptance along the way.

This energetic, wacky musical is based on the DreamWorks Animation film, with music by Jeanine Tesori and book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire. We are introduced to an Ogre named Shrek who has isolated himself in a swamp within the woods of a town called Duloc. Shrek soon finds every fairytale creature in the book outside of his little shed of a home. It turns out that the dictator-like Lord Farquaad has banished them from the town! Shrek must rescue Princess Fiona from her tower, and in doing so, we soon learn that there is much more to this odorous Ogre than meets the eye. “Shrek the Musical” opened on Broadway in late 2008, earning an impressive twelve Drama Desk Award nominations and eight Tony Award nominations.

Palm Beach Central High School’s ensemble was animated and engaged throughout the entirety of the musical, shining in numbers like “Freak Flag” and “This is Our Story” and guiding you through the diverse town of Duloc. With several pleasing vocal performances from the cast, and with creative technical elements, the students should certainly be proud of what they have accomplished.

The ogre himself, Shrek, was portrayed nicely by Brian Heredia, conveying the complex emotions that Shrek endures while figuring out what he truly wants and deserves. The enthusiastic, fun-loving Donkey was depicted adoringly by Stephen Coley, with impeccable characterization and expressions. The not so stereotypical yet extremely likable and amusing Princess Fiona was portrayed commendably by Hannah Baker, impressing you with her stage presence and tap dancing abilities.

Other actors worth noting include Ben Shaevitz, portraying the short-tempered Lord Farquaad with his sassy nature and incredible eyebrows; Victoria Lobdell, delightfully portraying the tiny, yet totally real Pinocchio; and last but not least, Chava Hadar, portraying the role of the high-pitched, determined Gingy. Although some of the chemistry was lacking between characters and some vocal performances were slightly off, that did not take away from the magical performance.

Since “Shrek the Musical” relies heavily on the technical aspects to move the story along, the technical elements including beautiful hair and makeup design, unique props, and the stage management and crew added to the overall greatness of the show, and should definitely be recognized.

Palm Beach Central High School’s production of “Shrek the Musical” was a fun and moving experience, teaching you that you shouldn’t judge an Ogre by its odor.

*** *** ***

By Madeline Finkelman of North Broward Preparatory School

A canopy of lush and shadowy trees, an ornate stone tower, a rocky mysterious cave, and a larger than life storybook: straight from a fairytale, the stage of Palm Beach Central High school’s production of “Shrek” magically transports the audience to a whimsical land far far away.

“Shrek the Musical,” with music by Jeanine Tesori and book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire, is based on the book “Shrek!” written by William Steig in 1990 and on the animated 2001 DreamWorks movie. The show tells the story of the green belching ogre, Shrek, whose secluded swamp is invaded by the Fairy Tale Characters, exiled there by Lord Farquaad. Shrek, who’s used to living alone and is unhappy with the invasion, goes on a journey to confront Farquaad and get his land back, but ends up finding love and friendship instead.

The ostracized and onion-layered-like ogre Shrek was brought to the stage by Brian Heredia. Heredia opens the show with his song “Big Bright Beautiful World,” immediately capturing the audience with his big shoes, bright personality, and beautiful belt. Playing the quirky and unconventional Princess Fiona was Hannah Baker. The two shared great chemistry, sweetly developing their relationship from Act I to Act II.

Shrek’s energetic and chatty sidekick, Donkey, was portrayed by Stephen Coley. Coley’s high energy throughout the production and his ability to remain in character made him one of the show’s most engaging players. The feisty leader of the Fairy Tale Characters, Pinocchio, was brought to life by Victoria Lobdell. Her clear soprano voice could still be heard through her squeaky cartoonish affect.

With storybook creatures such as The Big Bad Wolf (Grant Normann) and Humpty Dumpty (Emily Jacobs), the ensemble of Fairy Tale Characters brought fun and frivolity to the stage. With the high energy dance numbers “Freak Flag” and “Story of my Life,” every single member had jubilant enthusiasm and outstanding commitment to their characters. Another notable performance came courtesy of the stressed out and steadfast Gingy, played by Chava Hadar, effortlessly switching from the high pitched Gingy tone to smooth and soulful singing in “Freak Flag.”

The technical aspects of the show were some of its highlights. From the Duloc Dancers to Farquaad’s shrunken legs, the lavish costumes helped to tell each of the characters’ story. The cast made impressive use of their expansive stage. Fiona’s offstage tower and a rocky bridge in front of the stage gave extra dimension to the production. Props such as the creatures’ protest signs added a contemporary aspect to the show, but still stayed true to the character holding them.

While not a traditional fairytale, there is still a valuable and very modern lesson behind the show. The cast and crew of “Shrek” show us that sometimes the real ogres in this world aren’t the ugly or the misfits, but the ones that won’t accept others for who they really are.

*** *** ***

By Charlotte Bacharach of Cardinal Gibbons High School

In most cases, ogres and other freaky creatures aren’t considered pleasant. Talking donkeys aren’t exactly delightful either, and fire-breathing dragons don’t typically make people jump for joy. However, Palm Beach Central High School’s production of “Shrek the Musical” included all these and more, while also making audiences roar with laughter.

William Steig’s book “Shrek!” was published in 1990, and was made into a popular Dreamworks film in 2001. All the hype for a grumpy green ogre resulted in “Shrek the Musical,” which opened on Broadway in December of 2008. This Tony-award winning show contained music by Jeanine Tesori and lyrics and book by David Lindsay-Abaire, and starred greatly acclaimed actors such as Sutton Foster. Following an ogre named Shrek, this musical depicts his mission to save a princess from a perilous tower in order to get his swamp back from the infamous Lord Farquaad. Along the way, he encounters people and creatures who allow him to pull back a few of his onion-like layers, and find his compassionate heart. This well-known story gives a great message about embracing who we are, and letting our “freak flag” fly.

Shrek was played by actor Brian Heredia, who produced many laughs with his irritable and snarky persona. His counterpart, Princess Fiona (Hannah Baker), brought an abundance of spunk and personality through her portrayal of a not-so-normal-princess. They worked well together on stage, such as in their silly duet “I Think I Got You Beat” which was filled with playful banter. Stephen Coley’s character, Donkey, added an incredibly lively and energetic dynamic to the trio. Coley never failed to stay in character, constantly giving animated expression and emotion. His musical numbers were upbeat, and he engaged audiences through his admirable comedic timing and strong voice.

The formidable Dragon was portrayed by Naomi Ruiz, who fulfilled the role with both poise and sass. Her strong belt complemented the scary monster impeccably. The three little pigs (Korinna Perez-Nunez, Anna Gianunzio, and Lindsay Nichols) had amazing chemistry, accompanied by vibrant reactions and character choices in all their scenes. In “The Ballad of Lord Farquaad,” Farquaad (Ben Shaevitz) and his guards (Megan Agugliaro, Sarah Ingram, Aaron Reyes, Kareem Rodriguez, and Cameron Silverman) danced hysterically and entertained with their impromptu orchestra. Though some actors struggled with diction and intention, the cast as a whole was extremely prepared and charged with zest.

The technical aspects of the show shone along with the cast. The set was stunning, making seem as if the school auditorium was truly a mystical, fairy tale kingdom. The many scene changes were done quietly and discreetly. All the props were intricately done and well thought out by Lindsay Nichols. When the fairy tale characters protested at the end of the show, Nichols provided them with hilarious signs containing expressions that fit their characters, as well as posters with contemporary phrases.

Palm Beach Central High School charmed in their rendition of “Shrek the Musical.” With their witty songs, spirited voices, and vivacious characters, the Bronco Players proved that even through obstacles and hardships – “such as losing our swamp or facing a dragon” it will always be a “Big Bright Beautiful World”.

*** *** ***

Reviews of Grease at Saint Andrews School on Friday, 3/03/2017.

By Gabi Simon of Coral Glades High School

Grab your leather jacket and head to the drive-in to see the hand jiving cast and crew at Saint Andrews’ production of “Grease.”

With book, music, and lyrics written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, “Grease” premiered in Chicago in 1971 and moved to Broadway in 1972. The original production was nominated for seven Tony awards, including Best Musical. Since its original run, “Grease” was made into a film in 1978, revived on Broadway in 1994, and debuted on television as a part of Fox’s live musical series in 2016. “Grease” is a provocative and rebellious story that follows the Pink Ladies and the Burger Palace Boys, more commonly known as the T-Birds, in their quest to conquer love, peer pressure, and high school.

Naveen Sharma was the suave and slick leading man, Danny Zuko. Sharma’s well-rounded performance really showed Danny’s turmoil as he was forced to choose between his reputation and the girl he loved. Sharma’s smooth vocals and spot-on comedic timing in “Alone at the Drive-In” enhanced his performance. Playing the classic mean girl with a soft side was Taylor Mullen as Rizzo. Mullen delivered Rizzo’s snarky comments with a realistic attitude that added to her character’s believability. “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” was a sharp turning point for Mullen and her strong vocal ability truly showed Rizzo’s softer side. Jeremy Matsil (Roger) gave a consistently comedic performance and dedicated to the over the top antics of his character. Matsil embraced Roger’s quirky personality and would do anything, including mooning his classmates, to get a laugh.

Though the cast sometimes lacked energy, large group numbers like “Greased Lightning” and “We Go Together, ” made up for it. The dancers were synchronized and hand jiving like there was no tomorrow. A standout dancer in the ensemble was Colin Finney as Patty Simcox. Finney was a ball of energy in every number and had pep in her step at every moment. Finney’s energy also shown through in her acting and she stole the show with her spirited attitude.

The cast used the multi-functional set well and the small details on the set, such as the tagging done by Danny and his friends, really made the set feel like a real high school. Though some of the scene changes dragged, it gave the orchestra time to showcase the fun, 50s-style music. The orchestra played flawlessly and with just enough volume to surround the audience without drowning out the actors.

The fabulous students at Saint Andrews will have you “swaying to and fro all night” with their lively production of “Grease.”

*** *** ***

By Nicole Sugarman of JP Taravella High School

It’s time to bust out the poodle skirt, slick back your hair, and zip up that leather jacket! Get ready to shake, rock, and roll with the cast of Saint Andrew’s Grease.

With music and lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, including additional songs written by John Farrar, this timeless classic follows the story of two young lovebirds rekindling a summer romance after their unexpected reconnection at Rydell High. This feel-good musical, set in the 1950s, received seven Tony Award nominations after its Broadway debut in 1972. The show ended its run with a whopping 3,388 performances, but it truly became a household name when it transitioned to the big screen starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. Since then, there have been several remakes of the smash hit.

Playing the charismatic leader of The Burger Palace Boys gang, otherwise known as Danny Zuko, Naveen Sharma convincingly depicted Danny’s tough-guy attitude, while still allowing the audience a glimpse at his character’s hopeless romanticism. In his solo “Alone At The Drive-In”, Sharma was able to showcase this compassionate side, as well as his beautiful voice and stunning falsetto. Daniela Garcia, playing the wholesome and naive love interest Sandy Dumbrowski, exhibited a nice sense of innocence and displayed lovely vocals in numbers such as “Summer Nights” and “Raining On Prom Night.” Taylor Mullen, playing the all-around tough and sarcastic leader of the “Pink Ladies”, Betty Rizzo, embodied the outspoken teen through her bold characterization and ability to convey the inner struggles of her character. Mullen especially shined in her solo “There Are Worse Things I Could Do”, exquisitely portraying the vulnerability of her character, as well as her
powerful vocals.

Playing the bubbly cheerleader Patty Simcox, Colin Finney consistently kept up her peppy demeanor and hilarious physicality. Roger, portrayed by Hayden Sikora, was a standout performer, regularly receiving giggles from the audience at his “mooning” antics and amusing one-liners. With his endearing rendition of “Magic Changes”, Doody, played by Sameer Tolani, showcased his guitar-playing skills and smooth vocals in this number, creating a sweet moment.

Though occasionally lacking energy, the ensemble helped to create the bouncy, sock hop feel of the musical with their lively facials and polished movements. The harmonies in the large group numbers were pleasing to the ear and complemented the production quite nicely.

The creative use of the blacklight in “Greased Lightning” furthered the illusion of the “dream sequence” and added to the quality of the number. As for costuming in the production, some of the clothing was not suitable for the 50s time period and was somewhat of a distraction. The multifunctional set effectively assisted in establishing each location, but seemed a bit one-dimensional.

The cast of Saint Andrew’s Grease put on an electrifying production about senior year surviving, ultra fast driving, and lots of hand jiving, proving once and for all that Grease is the word!

*** *** ***

By Madeline Finkelman of North Broward Preparatory School

High school in the 50’s: where the skirts are longer, jackets are cooler, and a past summer love is challenged by school cliques and teenage disobedience.  With a massive cast and electrfyin’ performances, St Andrews School’s production of “Grease” brings us back in time with the sights and sounds of a bygone era.

“Grease”, written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, first hit the Broadway stage in 1972, becoming the longest running show of its time with over 3,000 performances. It was later adapted into a hit movie starring Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta. The show follows a love story between the suave Danny Zuko and naive Sandy Dumbrowski. What they thought was just a summer fling is revisited when Sandy unexpectedly shows up on Danny’s turf, Rydell High. With a 1950’s rock and roll composition, the fun and frivolous production gives us an escape from the less than socially modern themes.

Naveen Sharma portrayed the slick and smooth stud Danny Zuko. Sharma commanded the stage with his exceptional vocals and killer physicality. He was best showcased in his solo “Alone At the Drive In” where he reflects on his heartbreak after being stood up by his summer lover Sandy, played by Daniela Garcia. Although the two harmonized beautifully in their duet “Summer Nights”, the duo, much like the fixer-upper car Greased Lighting, lacked a bit of a spark. But Sharma’s colossal charisma and charm helped convey their connection. The tough and outspoken Rizzo was brought to the stage by Taylor Mullen. Expressing her character’s biggest moment of vulnerability, Mullen’s stellar vocals were shown off beautifully in “There Are Worst Things I Could Do”. These lead performers helped give the show its heart and soul.

The rough and rebellious Kenickie was embodied by Mason Pace. Pace exemplified the bad-boy persona of this cocky, yet simple-minded, character, leading the show-stopping number “Greased Lighting”. The bubbly beauty school dropout Frenchy was played by Cat Schrubb. Schrubb expressed Frenchy’s perky personality and had an accent and attitude that remained consistent throughout the show.

No one captured the energy and humor of the show better than the five “leather jacket boys.” Along with Sharma and Pace, Sameer Tolani, (Doody) Hayden Sikora, (Roger)  and Jeremy Matsil (Sonny) each brought the unique traits of their characters to life, while establishing a believable bond that made them truly exciting to watch. Another notable performance came from Colin Finney, as Patty Simcox, who made an obnoxious and abrasive character engaging and likeable. Finney’s dancing and lively facials made her a stand-out in the group numbers “We Go Together” and “Born To Hand Jive”.

While in need of just a bit of fine tuning, this production of “Grease” showed the dedication of its cast and crew who clearly had the drive to keep the show running on all cylinders.

*** *** ***

By Sofie Leathers  of Boca Raton High School

Whether clad in pastel pink or black leather, Rydell High’s students were brought to life at Saint Andrew’s Upper School musical, Grease. The lighthearted, upbeat script paired with the catchy score whisked the audience away to the 1950’s.

Although Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey’s music, lyrics, and script were made popular on Broadway in 1972, Grease’s 1978 movie counterpart made it a household name. The iconic story centers around a reunited summer romance between grease-monkey Danny Zuko and good-girl Sandy Dumbrowski. On the first day of school, the audience and transfer-student Sandy are introduced to Rydell’s most popular cliques: the Burger Palace Boys and Pink Ladies. The story follows the students’ friendships, romances, and everything in between.

With a show as well-known as Grease, the cast and crew faced the additional pressure of strict, pre-existing audience expectations. However, they maneuvered their way to an engaging, heart-warming, comical show through their commitment and dedication.

Grease’s leads were well-cast and entertaining. Naveen Sharma (Danny Zuko) showcased smooth vocals and charisma as the leading man. Taylor Mullen’s performance as Betty Rizzo was also vocally strong; “There are Worse Things I Could Do” allowed her powerful voice to reveal an additional emotional depth to her character. Daniela Garcia played sweet, ‘goodie-two-shoes’ Sandy with an endearing charm.
The supporting actors used the playful, comical script to create their own identities onstage and add to the group dynamic. Cat Schrubb (Frenchy) and Colin Finney (Patty Simcox) stood out by being constantly present, engaged, and in-character throughout the entire show. Patty, the perky, peppy cheerleader, grabbed the audience’s attention by constantly wearing an ear-to-ear smile or a huffing, puffing pout. The greasers, or the Burger Palace Boys, used “Greased Lightning” to share their infectious high energy and enthusiasm. They displayed commendable group chemistry driven by excitement and teamwork.

The technical aspects of Grease were innovative and creative. The minimalist, multi-level set successfully conveyed the desired settings by utilizing backdrops. Though scene changes occasionally left the audience lingering in the dark, the set had a few enjoyable surprises. Blue lights illuminated “Greased Lightning, ” making bright costumes and a hidden message glow. The infamous fixed-up car itself was a unique interpretation, adding a fresh, witty, comedic twist. The lighting, though useful when differentiating settings, failed to entirely illuminate the actors, rendering them difficult to see from further away. The cast pushed through various sound problems impressively, adjusting speaking levels to accommodate inconsistent microphones.

Grease provided audience members with an enjoyable, unforgettable evening filled with smiles, laughs, and hand-jives

*** *** ***

By Sophia Young of Coral Glades High School

Tell me more! Take a trip to the 1950’s with Saint Andrew’s School’s production of “Grease” as the cast tells a classic story of friendship, peer pressure, and a struggle between reputation and love.

“Grease”, taking its name from the 1950’s United States working-class youth called “greasers”, revolves around the summer love of teenagers Danny Zuko and Sandy Dumbrowski and their struggle to rekindle their love at Rydell High School. With book, music, and lyrics by Jim Jacobs, Warren Casey, and John Farrar, “Grease”  premiered on Broadway in 1972 and closed in 1980, running for 3,388 performances. The musical has proved its timeless themes over the years as it has been popularly revived multiple times and even broadcasted live on NBC in 2016.

Leading the show as the ingratiating Danny Zuko was Naveen Sharma, whose broad characterization and impressive vocal ability carried the show seamlessly. Taylor Mullen played the notorious rebel Betty Rizzo, as she perfectly embodied the sassy personality the character has to offer. While Mullen nailed the relentless side of Rizzo, a softer and more realistic aspect to her role was especially exemplified in the song “There Are Worse Things I Could Do”, enhancing the complexity of the moral themes of the show.

Although the energy of the ensemble lacked at certain points, the efforts of the lead and supporting actors unquestionably compensated for the differences in enthusiasm. The Burger Palace Boys offered a tremendous amount of energy throughout the show and most notably in the song “Greased Lightning”, where their powerhouse vocals and bold choices brought the show’s energy to an all-time high. Specifically, Hayden Sikora as Roger and Jeremy Matsil as Sonny delivered their roles fearlessly, as their comedic timing aided them in brightening the overall mood of the show. Colin Finney as Patty Simcox was undoubtedly the most motivated character, as her emotions were evidently expressed regardless of the levels of energy surrounding her. Making the most of his limited stage time was Matt Eisenberg as Eugene, whose arduous characterization pulled the attention of his classmates while adequately providing comedic relief.

The technical aspects of the production seemed to detract heavily from the overall spectacle of the show, with many efforts seeming out of place. The costumes, hair, and makeup were not specific to each character nor accurately reflected the time period of the show. Similarly, the lighting did not echo the mood of each scene effectively. The set, however, was well utilized by the actors, being able to smoothly transform into multiple locations.

Saint Andrew’s School’s production of “Grease” is the “one that audiences want,” capably fulfilling the expectations one would have of this festively provocative show.

*** *** ***

Reviews of The Game’s Afoot at Archbishop McCarthy High School on Sunday, 12/04/2016.

By Michael Valladares of Cypress Bay High School

Ripe with references to both classical and contemporary plays and filled with sardonic and fast-paced farcical humor, Archbishop McCarthy High School’s production of Ken Ludwig’s The Game’s Afoot (or Holmes for the Holidays) brings a thrilling and memorable whodunit to the stage in a unique piece of Christmas theater.

Originally produced in Cleveland and winning the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allan Poe Awards’ Best Play in 2012, The Game’s Afoot is set in December of 1936 and follows theater star William Gilette’s evening with his castmates at his Connecticut mansion. When a guest is found impaled by a knife, chaos quickly ensues as the guests scramble to find the culprit. Gilette himself finds that his performances as Sherlock Holmes are slowly bleeding into reality. Full of twists and turns, this play is a well-written ensemble piece; a true comedy of errors.

Leading Archbishop’s show as William was Liam Mihoulides, accompanied by his supporting character and best friend Felix Geisel, played by Pablo Uribasterra. The two had strong comedic moments, playing off of each other with a natural energy that only escalated with the increasingly absurd circumstances. Geisel himself demonstrated a mastery over physical comedy, providing entertaining expressions and a captivating range of emotions throughout the show’s two acts. William Gilette’s mother, Martha, was played by Brooke Whitaker, whose understated acting magnified her comic one-liners. Felix’s wife, Madge, was played by Brianna Elijaua, who commanded the stage whenever present. Elijaua rode on the fine line between truth and comedy, providing a phenomenal performance.

The other couple in the mansion was Simon Bright and Aggie Wheeler, played by Brian Warner and Alex Palazzo, respectively. Warner performed with a certain dark presence throughout the show that complimented his character’s arc. Palazzo managed to elicit drama from the script, adding some realistic emotion to her character throughout the show. Bringing an intoxicatingly obnoxious presence to the stage was Bella Miulescu as the cutthroat journalist Daria Chase. Her characterization was bold and appealed to slapstick comedy; it was quirky and quite enjoyable. Miulescu brought incredible energy to the ensemble with her scathing voice and consistent commitment to character. Inspector Goring, played by Glenn Muston, was plenty fun to watch as well, as her oblivious nature and occasional break into Shakespeare not only brought her own comedy to the stage, but enhanced that of others as well.

As an ensemble, The Game’s Afoot cast worked well off of each other. Lines flowed naturally, and everyone was present in their role, even when they were not the focus of the plot. The cast proved to provide accurate portrayals of age, something inimitable in high school thear. The stage was run well too, the absence of mishaps shows the prowess of a good technical team and Stage manager (Amanda Alvarez).

As Gilette would argue, this play is no joke — though it is perhaps a game. The Game’s Afoot at Archbishop is a refreshing take on the classic murder mystery; an organic and relieving tale of holiday humor.

*** *** ***

By Aaron Avidon of West Boca High School

The talented students at Archbishop McCarthy tackle mystery and murder with an astounding level of grace and humor in their rendition of Ken Ludwig’s The Game’s Afoot.

This gripping tale takes place on Christmas  Eve, 1936. A brilliant actor/playwright by named William Gillete is recovering from a gunshot wound after an attempt on his life occurring on the closing night of his long-running play. Gillete is obsessed with the idea of Sherlock Holmes, and renovates his luxurious mansion with all sorts of quirky gadgets and secrets. However, while hosting a get-together of his fellow actors and critics, a murder unfurls, and Gillete, thinking himself to share Holmes’ world-famous detective skills, makes it his priority to find the culprit.

The show, while set before a beautifully designed set full of hidden rooms and various doors, focuses mainly on its colorful cast, who have no trouble conveying the many different emotions present throughout the show. Gillete, played by Liam Mihoulides, has little difficulty bringing the sly sleuth to life, snaking around his humble abode with motivation, and flawlessly segueing into a panicked and hilarious manner when dealing with hiding a body.

Pablo Uribasterra escalates the comedy as Gillete’s right hand man, Felix Geisel. Pablo effortlessly draws your attention with his over-the-top antics, keeping you laughing the whole time as he hops over couches and struggles with trap doors. He was definitely a stand out character. By far the most stand-out performance comes from Bella Miulescu, who plays the vivacious and snake-tongued critic, Daria Chase. Miulescu plays a huge part in the production, being the center of attention and stand-out performance in act 1, and the key plot component as the victim of the murder in act 2, being haplessly thrown into closets and sheepishly hidden behind furniture. The comedic scenes involving her always had me laughing and her ability to prod the other characters into action with her sly talk were definitely a pleasure to witness.

On the other side of the character spectrum were Alex Palazzo and Brian Warner, playing the conniving duo of Aggie Wheeler and Simon Bright. The two of them both bring authentic and genuine performances, and seamlessly make the transition from happy couple to fiendish pair of murderers. Their reveal was by far the biggest shock of the show, and watching Gillete foil their plans was really satisfying. I felt fully enraptured by the story.

Overall, Archbishop McCarthy brought a dazzling production to the table, full of suspense, excitement, and comedy that had me begging for more.

*** *** ***

By Grace Sindaco of Dillard Center for the Arts

“My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people don’t know.” Follow the clues all the way down to Archbishop McCarthy High School’s production of “The Game’s Afoot.” This mysterious story leads the audience on the edge of their seats, down a path of love, murder, and deceit.

“The Games Afoot” was first published in 2012, written by Ken Ludwig. The show takes place in December 1936 and actor William Gillette (Liam Mihoulides) has invited his fellow cast-members to his Connecticut house for a weekend of fun. However, when the eccentric Daria Chase is stabbed to death, Gillette himself, who had written and starred in a hit play about Sherlock Holmes, takes on the role to solve the mystery. There is suspense within the murder inspired hilarious jokes and just when you think you’ve solved the case, you start to question yourself when the plot takes an unexpected twist.

When walking in, the open set reveals the interior of the Connecticut mansion. You don’t know where to look first. Do you look at the period furniture or festive holiday decorations around the room? Knick-knacks, books and props fill every nook and cranny of the space. The intimate setting works in favor of a show that relies heavily on paying attention. Cohesive and time accurate costumes were specific, working along with the set. The sound cues within this play are difficult and the use of pre-recorded voices was used to its extent and added an impressive and professional vibe to the performance. Props and lighting brought an even wider expansion of specificity to the show. These are a result of the dedicated stage managing of Amanda Alvarez and her crew. With a small perfectly casted eight-person show, everyone has multiple scenes to stand out. Working together seamlessly, with energy that never seems to falter.

As the married couple Madge and Felix Geisel, Brianna Eljuana and Pablo Uribasterra captivated the stage with their overwhelming chemistry and commitment to character. Uribasterra and Mihoulides have a beautifully established life long friendship that remained consistent throughout the show. Although the beginning seemed to lag just a tad, when Bella Miulescu, playing Daria Chase, entered the whole show was brought to life and completed an amazing cast. With strong choices, she completely embodied this obnoxious role. Miulescu did an exquisite job alive, or dead.

Alexandria Palazzo played Aggie Wheeler, a quiet and timid woman who married Simon Bright (Brian Warner) in hopes of moving on from her husband’s fatal accident (or so you think). It was hard to keep your eyes off of her with her genuine and complex facials. Martha (Brooke Whitaker) is the witty, and caring mother who would do anything for her son, William. Whitaker was devoted to her character, just like Martha was to her son, and had spot-on comedic timing. Her commitment to playing an older women was extremely difficult and Whitaker rose to the challenge. There was a hilarious contrast in her convincing performance as she portrayed the frailty of an elderly women, starting with her posture down to her fingertips.

Archishop McCarthy’s production leaves you breathless and wanting to be Holmes for the holidays!

*** *** ***

By Lauren Hutton of American Heritage School

“I don’t treat life as a joke – I treat it as the greatest of games,” actor William Gillete announces in the middle of a fast-paced, endlessly amusing, and undoubtedly clever murder investigation occurring in his very own mansion. The iconic line perfectly sums up the playful yet intriguing atmosphere created throughout Archbishop McCarthy’s impeccable rendition of “The Game’s Afoot.”

Acclaimed playwright Ken Ludwig, whose works have won a multitude of Tony awards, wrote this winner of the 2012 Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allen Poe Award. While six of Ludwig’s plays have made it to Broadway, “The Game’s Afoot” originated at the Cleveland Play House and has remained a celebrated and frequently performed piece in regional theaters only.

The comedic, mystery thriller takes place entirely in the confines of successful actor William Gillete’s mansion in December of 1936. Gillete, who found success playing the role of Sherlock Holmes, has invited his fellow cast members over under the guise of celebrating the holidays, but ultimately wishes to investigate who is responsible for shooting him several weeks prior as well as several other equally suspicious recent occurrences.

The perfectly timed and commanding technical elements of this show truly helped create an unsettling atmosphere. The sound of gunshots echoing out of a chamber, the ominous clap of thunder before the stage blacks out, and the malicious red lighting that emerges as a seance begins made every moment inescapably suspenseful. Additionally, the set was not only beautifully adorned with Christmas wreaths and a decorative tree to initially create a welcoming feeling, but it also transitioned perfectly into a cunning murder site with a revolving door and expansive closet – ideal for stowing away dead bodies.

The chemistry between the cast seemed both sincere and effortlessly entertaining. As actors, old friends, and couples, they jumped spontaneously into well-known monologues, playfully insulted one another, and worked seamlessly together to keep the energy high and the show moving. Every quirky one-liner about the revolutionary technology of the time (remote controls!) or genuine moment of turning to one another for comfort was timed well and done with a complete understanding of their characters and the script.

Liam Mihoulides as William Gillete lead the show with a compelling stage presence that was only heightened by the true bond with best friend and incredible comic Felix Giesel (Pablo Uribasterra). Not to be outshined by the men, Martha Gillete (Brooke Whitaker) perfectly captured the subtle humor and endearing cluelessness of William’s secretly scheming mother, and the hilariously obnoxious and enjoyably overbearing performance of Bella Miulescu as Daria Chase brought a whole new high-energy dynamic to the production.

As Sherlock once said, “when you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” That this show was anything less than extraordinary would be impossible, which only leaves the truth: in a never-ending series of twists that left the desired truth frustratingly elusive, Archbishop’s performance of “The Game’s Afoot” provided a faultless insight into human nature.

*** *** ***

By Taylor Fish of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High

What would the holiday season be without family, presents, and murder? Deck the halls and duck for cover with Archbishop McCarthy High School’s spirited cast of “The Game’s Afoot”!

Written in 2012 by American playwright Ken Ludwig, “The Game’s Afoot” chronicles the chain of murders that intertwines with the lives of the eccentric stars of Sherlock Holmes as they unwind in William Gillette’s intricate house for Christmas of 1936.  This contemporary show began in Cleveland and has continuously been seen as a community theatre production, not yet produced on Broadway, although it did receive the Edgar Award for Best Play the year it was first performed.

Archbishop McCarthy’s production anchored itself in the cast’s adeptness for comedic timing. Thriving off of the forwardness of their dry humor, the ensemble of friends livened the pacing of events through their vivid understanding and employment of situational irony and their sarcastic dedication to their positions.

Liam Mihoulides led the production with charming optimism and confidence in his beaming characterization of the famous William Gillete. His pleasure in his own successes demonstrated his awareness of how truly innovative and self-assured this actor is. Contrasting with his constant grin, Alex Palazzo as Aggie Wheeler offered a meeker interpretation of fame and stardom as she reminisced about the tragedies of the loss of her husband, showcasing her ability to formulate emotional levels on stage.

Flooding the stage with their refreshing naturalistic commitment and infectious chemistry, Pablo Uribasterra and Brianna Eljaua as Felix and Madge Geisel, respectively, created a pairing of the utmost believability and comicality. Whether together or apart, the duo offered endless sardonic facial expressions and exasperated reactions to the crimes at hand that gave them a constant presence overflowing with characterization whenever they appeared on stage.

The intimacy of the black box setting heightened the intensity of the slapstick humor carried out most frequently by Bella Miulescu as Daria Chase. While close proximity to the audience can prove very difficult when attempting to keep focus, the characters never faltered in their focus and intentions. This production included a wide array of sound cues to aid understanding of the weather conditions and to maintain consistency with the actions of the performers, and the timing of their delivery was impeccable.

So put down your knife and raise a glass to Archbishop McCarthy High School’s murderously funny production of “The Game’s Afoot!”

*** *** ***

Reviews of Ain’t Misbehavin’ at Dillard Center for the Arts on Friday, 11/18/2016.

By Haley Amann of Coral Glades High School

No one was feelin’ blue after the students of Dillard Center for the Arts performed with high energy and rich, soulful voices in their production of “Ain’t Misbehavin’.”

“Ain’t Misbehavin’ ” is a musical revue that takes place in the Harlem Renaissance, an era also known as the “New Negro Movement” in the 1920’s. With a book written by Murray Horwitz and Richard Malty Jr. and music by various composers and lyricists, the show was officially developed into a full-scale production at the Longacre Theater on May 9th, 1978. The revue received the Drama Desk Award for Best Musical and Best Direction of a Musical. While there is no plot or named characters in the show, a mini-sub plot is given for each actor throughout the songs.

There was not a moment onstage where an actor’s energy fell short of the lively and upbeat jazz music of the production. Being allowed to literally make their character their own, each actor brought a certain flare to their role and maintained their character throughout the entire performance. The casts’ high energy, spectacular vocals, and impressive dancing skills especially shined in the “Finale. ”  Two stand-out dancers among the cast were Mikal Singletary and Joi McCoy. Eyes were always drawn to both performers in large group numbers as they executed the more difficult choreography with ease.

The three female vocal powerhouses of the show were undoubtedly Mikayla Queely, Jantanies Thomas, and Brianna Garcon. Queely, Thomas, and Garcon all had their own unique, powerful, and soulful singing voices which accurately depicted the jazz-style music. All three ladies also displayed remarkable stage presence and solid characterization.

Davion Jones did not miss a comedic moment throughout his performance, especially in his solo “Your Feet’s Too Big. ” His hilarious mannerisms and speech left the audience practically in tears. Another noteworthy performer was Ojobayo Lyons. Lyons exhibited a unique, dance-like physicality which made his performance memorable. Even in moments where Lyons was not the center of attention, he never fell out character. Both Jones and Lyons, as well as Mikal Singletary gave excellent vocal performances in their solos throughout the show.

Given this show had a particular time era, costumes, hair, makeup, and the set all accurately fit the time period of the 1920’s. Even though the set was simple and remained the same for the entire show, it fit the cabaret theme of the musical. Lighting seemed to stay the same throughout Act One, but the design immediately became more intricate and visually pleasing once Act Two began. The Jazz Band gave a flawless performance not missing a beat and accurately played the jazz-styled score. While it wasn’t clear if it was a microphone problem or the band overpowering, there were moments throughout songs where an actor’s solo or line was missed.

It’s a sin to tell a lie, so the truth is Dillard Center for the Arts’ fun and upbeat production of “Ain’t Misbehavin’ ”  took the audience back in time with the casts’ stellar vocals and exuberant energy.

*** *** ***

By Sheridan Lasher of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High

Welcome to the Harlem Renaissance! Be sure to experience the jazz music, the brilliant singers, and the chance to go back to the 1930s in “Ain’t Misbehavin’ ”  at Dillard Center for the Arts.

“Ain’t Misbehavin’ ”  took its name from the song by Thomas “Fats” Waller and is based on an idea by Richard Maltby Jr. and Murray Horwitz. This revue won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical and the Tony Award for Best Musical, both in 1978. The show incorporates the style of swing music into a humorous production that encompasses the musical artistry of black entertainers during the Harlem Renaissance.

Dillard Center for the Arts’s production captivated the audience with its jazzy vibes and soulful performances. While many revues typically contain performers who sing their songs with neither a character nor setting, each actor took on a unique persona as they portrayed “characters” in a 1930’s Harlem bar. The refined Jazz Band enhanced the performance with its effortless swing numbers, and through its placement upstage of the actors, a barroom feeling was established.

Davion Jones’s fervent and humorous characterization sublimely complemented the production, heightening the energy of all the performers onstage with him and thus, strengthening the show as a whole. Jones’s exquisite duet partner, Mikayla Queely, exemplified a skilled vocal range and expressive facials during her solos throughout the performance. Their duet, “Honeysuckle Rose,” exposed the onstage chemistry between the two, emanating the auras of the Harlem Renaissance.

Joi McCoy displayed sophisticated dancing experience with polished pirouettes and mastery of the jazz style. Her sweet and sultry voice steered the direction of her performance towards the clever and audacious Mikal Singletary, who’s constantly cheerful facial expressions illustrated his apparent interest in McCoy. Another standout performer was Brianna Garcon, who cannot be mentioned without praise for her extremely matured and cultured voice. The cast exhibited blended harmonies throughout the entirety of the show, but specifically shined during their group number, “Black and Blue. ” They occasionally seemed to lack facials when onstage as a whole, but during their individual songs they demonstrated both playful and serious expressions with ease.

While some costume pieces clashed with each other onstage, overall they were appropriate for the era and added pizzazz to the performers. The hair and makeup, by Isabella Conway and Grace Sindaco, accurately depicted the women and men of the Harlem Renaissance, strengthening the believability of that time period. Though the men’s hats could have been more secured as they did fall numerous times, the actors covered up the mistakes well, showing no changes in expression.

A musical revue can be difficult to perform, but Dillard Center for the Arts was able to turn a compilation of musical numbers into an engaging journey for all who watch. So, if you’re feeling “black and blue, ” then you better catch this group of gifted artists in their sensational production of “Ain’t Misbehavin’ ”.

*** *** ***

By Stephen Coley of palm beach central high school

Dillard High certainly was not misbehavin’ when they chose to perform Ain’t Misbehavin’. With high energy numbers throughout the show, Ain’t Misbehavin’, directed by Angela Thomas and choreographed by Jerel Brown, is quite a sight to see.

Ain’t Misbehavin’, originally conceived by Richard Maltby, Jr. and Murray Horwitz, is a musical revue based on the music of Thomas “Fats” Waller who came to fame in the 1930’s during the Harlem Renaissance. Ain’t Misbehavin’ celebrates the jazz culture of the period.

As a revue, Ain’t Misbehavin’ does not have a legitimate story line, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be acted! Dillard proved this to be true with their exceptional performance. The actors all looked like they were having a great time up on stage, bringing excitement and energy into the room.

Some actors especially stood out with transcendent energy and characterization. Among these are Davion Jones, Ojobayo Lyons and Mikayla Queely. Davion was hilarious every time he was on stage and kept the audience enraptured through the show. Davion and Mikayla had a visible chemistry prevalent in their duet Honeysuckle Rose and continued throughout the rest of the show. Ojobayo was surprisingly good, especially in the second act, and he drew the audiences attention whether he was singing, dancing, or just plain standing there. Although some of this could be attributed to his stature, it was far more his talent and effort that drew the audience in.

Musicals are all about the music and Dillard performed very well in this area. Their award winning jazz band did an incredible job in creating the music of the night, and when paired with the high quality vocals of the cast, made the show quite good. Harmonies did struggle at points, however, for the majority of the show, the music was very good.

Although many factors played into the show’s quality, the real star of the show was the choreography. The choreography pulled the energy of the show up quickly and more than compensated for any slow periods within the show. Joi McCoy did especially well with the tough choreography, adding in incredible energy and characterization into her intense dance numbers.

The lighting and sound both struggled at points. When they were correct, they fit well, but they often struggled, the sound more so than the lighting. The sound occasionally cut out, causing diction to be lost. The set was one aspect that did work well. Its simplicity was exactly what this show required.

Overall, Ain’t Misbehavin’ was a good pick for the talent level of the actors, and it is pulled off very well.

*** *** ***

By Gabi Simon  of Coral Glades High School

When Fats Waller said “This is so nice, it must be illegal, ” he must have been talking about Dillard Center for the Arts’ fabulous production of the musical revue, “Ain’t Misbehavin’. ”

“Ain’t Misbehavin’ ”  conceived by Richard Maltby, Jr. and Murray Horwitz, is said to be “one of the best musical revues of all time. ” “Ain’t Misbehavin’ ” won the 1978 Tony Award for Best Musical as well as numerous Drama Desk Awards, including Outstanding Musical in 1978. The musical is tribute to the music and musicians of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s and 1930s. The show focuses on the music of Thomas “Fats” Waller and the strides he made during the Golden Age. Though there is no distinct story line, each song has its own message and the vocalists’ relationships is unique to each song. Performers in “Ain’t Misbehavin’ ”  present an evening of raunchy and humorous that encapsulate the theme of the Harlem Renaissance.

One of the many outstanding performers in this show was Davion Jones. Jones had spectacular vocals and shone in songs like “Honeysuckle Rose” and “Your Feet’s Too Big” and his humorous expressions added to his performance. Jones had a classy air about him that made him stand out from the cast, as if he came straight from Tin Pan Alley. Another standout cast member was Mikayla Queely with her smooth and sultry voice. Queely was classy and sassy and drew people in when she was singing and her bold acting choices set her apart from everyone else. Joi McCoy and Mikal Singletary were two other outstanding performers. McCoy and Singletary were both incredible dancers and demonstrated impeccable technique. Both brought the same energy and commitment to their dancing, as well as their singing, and overall gave a well-rounded performance. The two performed together with exceptional chemistry in “How Ya Baby. ”

This show relied heavily on the interactions and energy of the cast as a whole, and the cast rose to the occasion. With difficult jazz harmonies and fast-paced choreography the cast never faltered and transformed the auditorium into a jazz club. Contrasting with the pace of the rest of the show was “Black and Blue,” which was a somber number involving the whole company. In this number, there was no flashy dancing or quick jokes, but the cast maintained the energy of the show. This song was raw and emotional and the cast’s outstanding vocals drove the message home.

The show ran smoothly due to the work put in by the stage management team and crew. Lighting transformed the space and fit the tone and energy of each song, despite a few minor mistakes. Costuming, hair, and makeup all fit the time period and were unique to each character without clashing with each other. The Jazz Band played without a hitch and could only be compared to professionals. Even though the band was onstage, they did not overpower the actors.

Through exemplary vocals and fast-paced dancing, the students at Dillard Center for the Arts had the “joint jumpin’” with their energetic portrayal of “Ain’t Misbehavin’.”

*** *** ***

By Alex Wind of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High

Take a trip to a Harlem nightclub of the 1920s to see Fats Waller and his friends unwind – the journey is broad and bawdy, sassy and naughty, and the joint is surely jumpin’ in Dillard High School’s production of Ain’t Misbehavin’.

The Harlem Renaissance of the 1920’s and 1930’s comes to life in the three-time Tony award-winning musical revue, Ain’t Misbehavin’. Join performers on a journey through the timeless music of Thomas “Fats” Waller that’ll keep you jumpin’ and jivin’ with memorable songs such as “Ain’t Misbehavin’ ”, “The Ladies Who Sing With The Band” and “I’ve Got a Feeling I’m Falling. ” One of the most popular, well-crafted revues of all time, the sometimes sassy, sometimes sultry show has moments of devastating beauty that are simply unforgettable.

The cast consisted of ten actors that possessed powerful voices and unforgettable dancing skills. As a revue, the show did not carry a main plot, however, each of the actors built relationships with one another and created their own subplots that made the show more three-dimensional. The actors maintained a high level of energy throughout the entire show. Another great aspect of the production was Dillard’s own jazz band orchestrating the score. From the trumpets to the piano, all instruments blended beautifully together which added a layer of authenticity to the show, creating an atmosphere reminiscent of a jazz club.

One standout performer of the show, Davion Jones, crafted a comical character with not only his brilliant stage presence, but his excellent facial expressions as well – particularly during group numbers. Jones was also more than capable of holding his own in his songs, which was made evident in his solo, “Your Feet’s Too Big. ” Mikayla Queely developed a relationship with Jones in act one during their duet “Honeysuckle Rose” and built on it throughout the show by interacting with him during group numbers. Queely’s powerhouse vocals were brilliantly shown off in her solo “Cash For Your Trash. ”

With such intense choreography, two actors that excelled in dance were Mikal Singletary and Joi McCoy. McCoy and Singletary both exhibited excellent, classical training in their pirouettes and cha’n’s, maintaining high energy and facial expressions during group numbers, drawing attention to their talents. Additionally, Brianna Garcon’s performance showcased her lovely soprano voice, not only taking high harmonies in group numbers but also in her own solo, “When The Nylons Bloom Again. ”

Similarly, the rest of the cast did a great job with harmonies and energy, especially in songs like “Finale” and “This Joint Is Jumpin’”. The lighting (Ziaya Crowder, Joanne Toussaint, Guerdy Guerrier, and Diamonesse Tapia) set the mood of the show well with pinks and reds during the majority of the show, but contrasted these colors with blues during the solemn “Black and Blue.” The costumes (Caroline Campos, Bella Conway, Amanda Doty, and Grace Sindaco) reflected the time period appropriately and the choice of vibrant blues, greens, and reds popped beautifully on stage.

Ain’t Misbehavin’ is an amazingly fun, tuneful, toe-tapping experience centered around the determination to grasp life’s joys, laughter and passion, and this could not have been better conveyed by Dillard High School in their rendition.

*** *** ***

Reviews of Cinderella at JP Taravella High School on Friday, 11/18/2016.

By Alejandra Duque of Cypress Bay High School

A grandiose royal ball, a wicked stepmother, a magical fairy godmother, and a mystical pumpkin carriage: could it be JP Taravella High School’s production of “Cinderella”? Well, only if the shoe fits!

Originally written for television in 1957, this version of “Cinderella” has been recreated for the screen twice, has performed on the west end as well as New York City, and most recently was revived on Broadway in 2013 with a new book written by Douglas Carter Beane. This adaption, which was performed by the Taravella cast, captures the original wonder and magic of this classic fairy tale with only a few adaption’s to the story.

As a whole, the entire cast worked together very nicely, consistently maintaining high energy, great vocals, and enchanting choreography. Although at times in large group numbers the ensemble was not entirely in sync, if there is anything the story of Cinderella tells us is that there is beauty even in imperfection.

Leading this magnificent performance was Carmen Bulthuis who played none other than Ella. With strong vocals so sweet and heavenly, as well as her genuine and kind demeanor, Bulthuis seemed to be a real life princess who excelled on staged. Bulthuis also managed to create wonderfully believable relationships with everyone she came in contact with, specifically with her prince, Topher, who was played by Riley Frost. Together they made sparks fly, and not to mention, beautiful harmonies resonate through the theater. Frost was a strong performer not only alongside Bulthuis, but also on his own. Although he seemed to lack some confidence in his vocals, he was able to hit impressively high notes and created a very charming and endearing character through his line delivery and stage presence.

Another standout performer included Julie Berman who gave a magical performance as Marie and the fairy godmother. Berman’s voice is one so beautiful it may be believed to be “impossible,” but it is, as she proved, “possible” indeed! Berman was definitely a strong contributor to the mesmerizing magic and delightful fairy tale aspect of the production.

An integral part of any portrayal of Cinderella is of course the ugly stepsisters, or in this case, Gabrielle and Charlotte played by Vanessa Nottingham and Kimberly Sessions, respectively. Both were, in their own way, marvelously comedic; Nottingham more subdued and quirky and Sessions appropriately huge and over the top. As far as their performance, these stepsisters have nothing to lament about.

Technically, the show had many impressive aspects ranging from the talented student orchestra, to the beautiful costumes, and the diverse and mesmerizing sets and lights. Together, the entire crew and behind the scenes team came together to compliment the cast and ensure an incredible production in all fields.

Overall, the cast and crew of JP Taravella’s “Cinderella” did a fantastic job at portraying a loved timeless story. If in this production “the prince is giving a ball,” Taravella is giving an incredible performance.

*** *** ***

By Madeline Finkelman of North Broward Preparatory School

J.P. Taravella’s production of “Cinderella” was a lovely night of theater filled with animated performances and a happy fairy tale ending.

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” was originally written for television with music by Richard Rodgers and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. It was first broadcast live in 1957 on CBS and hit the broadway stage in 2013 starring Laura Osnes and Santino Fontana. The production ran for 770 performances and was nominated for nine Tony Awards that year.

Carmen Bulthuis portrayed the beautiful and benevolent Ella. With breathtaking vocals and elegant dancing, Bulthuis truly embodied the kind heart and mind of the character. She created a genuine connection with her charming Prince Topher, played by Riley Frost. Frost created a clear character arch, going from a boy who has had everything in his life done for him, to a man who is confident and has the ability to rule his kingdom.

Julie Berman gave an exceptional performance as Marie, who morphs from a crazy beggar woman to the magical fairy godmother in one swift transformation. Berman commanded the stage with her angelic vocals and captured the magic of her spell-binding character. Ella’s obnoxious step-sisters were brought to life by Kimberly Sessions and Vanessa Nottingham. Sessions and Nottingham executed the contrasting roles beautifully. Sessions plays the self-involved sister Charlotte, while Gabrielle, played by Nottingham, was the sympathetic sister who creates a believable love connection with idealistic activist Jean-Michel played by Kevin Cruz Capella. Capella and Nottingham had incredible chemistry and created a captivating love story that evolved throughout the show.

With high energy and polished choreography, the ensemble enhanced the enchanting essence of the show. The cast was best showcased in “The Prince is Giving A Ball/ Now is the Time” led by the town crier Lord Pinkleton, played with gusto by Boaz Levy. The show-stopping number featured Levy’s powerful vocals and the ensemble’s lively facials and dancing. In another fantastical scene, Marie taps her magic wand, turning adorable raccoon and fox puppets into the equally entertaining coach driver and footman, played by Madison Kelleher and Dani Wolfe. Being chased through the forest, the two danced and flipped around the stage, further comedically enhancing the production.

Just like Ella’s shoe, the costumes fit the show perfectly. There was an evident divide between the rags and gowns which was appealing to the eye. The complex set had many well-constructed elements such as hanging trees used throughout the show. However, they became a slight distraction when cast members bumped into them and they began swinging back and forth. The lighting was executed wonderfully, emphasizing the different moods on stage, creating focal points during set changes, and creating an overall whimsical atmosphere.

With fantastic songs, intricate dances and magical transformations, this production shows us that nothing’s impossible for the cast and crew of “Cinderella”.

*** *** ***

By Cameron Maglio of Deerfield Beach High School

With a flick of the wand and twirl of a dress, JP Taravella High School presents a spectacle that would win over the love of any prince. CINDERELLA (music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and new book by Douglas Carter Beane) tells the tale known by all of a young maiden and handsome prince falling in love under magical circumstances.

As the one to don the famous glass slippers, Carmen Bulthuis as Ella gave an enchanting performance. Bringing back the magic and sincerity of the Disney age, Bulthuis dove into the emotional plight of poor Cinderella through her heart-warming expressions and crystalline, melodic voice. During “In My Own Little Corner”, Bulthuis brought forth the innocence and hope associated with the fairy-tale, inspiring through her tale of how to remain strong on one’s own. With her prince (Riley Frost), the two showed sparkling chemistry via sweeping ballroom dances and heartfelt duets such as “Ten Minutes Ago”. Playing both the radiant fairy godmother and crazy old coot Marie, Julie Berman transformed from comedic side character to mystical enchantress with more ease than a pumpkin to a carriage, showcasing her kind levity in “Impossible”.

The evil step sisters, Gabrielle (Vanessa Nottingham) and Charlotte (Kimberly Sessions) displayed two sides of the sister coin. Sessions acted as the hysterically annoying one, with her wonderfully grating voice paired with laugh eliciting bits made her a standout comedic performance. Nottingham displayed growth while maintaining the humorous aspects of her character, making it a treat whenever the two would come onstage. The ensemble was as large as it was talented, forming an in-sync dance machine while each member retained stand-out performances, adding to the show’s depth. However, not every maiden fits the glass slipper, with some actors’ voices seeming lackluster in comparison to others. Even though most actors got the spirit of their characters right on the mark, it felt as if others energy made them a little out of place.

With a musical famous for its costumes, Taravella did not fail to impress. Ella’s swift costume changes from peasant to princess were as dazzling as they were fluid, with her stunning ball gown and sparkling glass slippers looking as if they were ripped out of every young girl’s dreams. There was even special detail placed on the ensemble’s costumes, all members fitting right into a storybook town. Most of the numerous and difficult costume changes were flawless, but a few slip-ups crept in every here and there. Lighting and sound worked hand in hand to create technical magic, adding mood and illumination to the entire production. Sets were versatile and grand, detailed from the towering staircase at the ball to the smallest forest log. For the most part, the crew conducted the many set changes with ease, but were slightly distracting at times.

Even though there may have been a shoe or two dropped during the night, JP Taravella High School’s CINDERELLA  was as magical as a prince’s finest ball, no fairy godmother required.

*** *** ***

By Santiago Zornosa of Western High School

Everyone knows the classical Cinderella story; we all have heard and seen it since we were young, constructing our perception of the tale. However, JP Taravella’s performance of “Cinderella” was truly a charming performance, able to draw the audience in and keep them captivated.

Originally written for television by the famed duo Rodgers and Hammerstein, “Cinderella” premiered on TV on March 31, 1957. The musical has seen several revisions since then, including a 2013 Broadway production with a new book. The show tells a melancholy yet touching and inspirational story about a young girl living with her cruel stepfamily who meets a prince and falls in love, a reward for her kindheartedness.

The main cast of “Cinderella” had outstanding performances. Carmen Bulthuis as Ella was a brilliant casting choice. Her character stayed resilient throughout even the darkest moments, portraying her ability as an actress. Her rendition of “It’s Possible” was beautiful to hear and it created a new dimension in her character, a newfound strength not seen before; Bulthuis captured the magic of Cinderella superbly well. Riley Frost as Topher played his role splendidly. His character of someone who slays giants and dragons yet undoubtedly is good-natured was seen through his superb delivery and vocal quality, especially in “Who am I?” and paired with Bulthuis, “Do I love you because you’re beautiful?”.   Other notable performances include Julie Berman as Marie who did an excellent job portraying two substantially different characters, as she was delightful and lovely and shone during the transformation from Ella to Cinderella. Additionally, Boaz Levy as Lord Pinkleton used his stage time well to develop a very memorable character as the prince’s aid, in a particularly humorous song, “The prince is giving a ball/Now is the time”.

The show’s ensemble  worked very well to stay in character and it was clear each cast member had their own identity. Collectively there was high energy in every scene. The choreographed dance scenes were perhaps not the cleanest in certain moments but the determination and vibrancy never left the audience seeking more as the ensemble was stellar.

On the technical aspects, the live orchestra added a unique touch to the show that a music track would lack. Never did the orchestra overpower the actors, as there was a virtuous balance between the dialogue and music. The lights and fog machine straight from the opening of the curtain, paired with an eerie set of tall woodland trees created an antagonistic atmosphere, deep into the woods. The stage crew is also to be commended for their determination to remove and place sets as cleanly and rapidly as possible, as their presence was virtually unnoticed. The most noteworthy technical aspect of the show, however, was Cinderella’s quick change into a golden dress. This left the audience in awe and was truly done professionally well, outstanding for high school theater.

Overall, JP Taravella’s performance of “Cinderella” was one with attention to detail, a truly magical and endearing performance of a classic fairy tale.

*** *** ***

By Gabriela Coutinho  of American Heritage School

As a romantically lit curtain unveils “impossible” dreams and a magnificent orchestra weaves the beginning of “A Lovely Night”, it grows evident that “it’s possible” for a high school to create magical storytelling and joy. With its talented cast and stunning technical elements, JP Taravella High School’s production of “Cinderella” definitely did not “stay in (its) own little corner” by dancing and seizing the night like a prince.

Originally written for television, Cinderella was rescripted for the stage and premiered on Broadway in 2013, earning nine Tony Award nominations and winning one. Musically composed and written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II respectively, both the televised and theatrical versions included songs from the pair’s previous scores. Although the musical generally kept its traditional storyline, more humor and realistic characters were added to attract adult as well as younger audiences.

Consistently exceeding the high energy, vocal, and dancing requirements, the performances joined with intricate technical aspects to craft a work of art that glittered like iconic glass slippers. Every ensemble member committed to a character and to dance-heavy, beautifully harmonious numbers, such as “The Prince is Giving a Ball” and “Ten Minutes Ago (Reprise) ”. Thankfully, the tireless marketing and publicity team ensured that everyone in the land would receive an invitation.

Leading as Ella, Carmen Bulthuis graced the stage with powerful and clear vocals, especially in her solo, “In My Own Little Corner, ” and duets with her prince and fairy godmother. As her princely counterpart, Riley Frost gave his Topher honest endearing humanity, easily winning hearts and laughter. Julie Berman provided contrast between her “crazy old Marie” and fairy godmother while maintaining a lighthearted personality and grand soprano vocals, namely in “Impossible”.

Despite their cruelty, Cinderella’s step family exhibited excellent engagement and comedic timing in their fights and numbers like “A Lovely Night”. Kimberly Sessions delivered a particularly hilarious performance as Charlotte with her brattiness and physicality, most notably in “Stepsister’s Lament”. Balancing out her sister with sweet quirkiness, Vanessa Nottingham as Gabrielle also displayed a humorous side when declaring her love for Jean-Michel (Kevin Cruz Capella). Having thoroughly developed their relationship, the pair even drew gasps from the audience when Madame (Nicolette Trivlis) discovered them.

Like the story’s elaborate magic, the dazzling technical elements greatly contributed to the production. Designed by a student team, the lighting actively set a dreamy mood, facilitated onstage dress transformations, and beautifully expressed time passing at the ball with color changes. The set, detailed props, and hair and makeup added realism to a show of fantasy. Collaborating in perfect harmony, the sound and orchestra’s professional quality even seemed royal.

With entrancing work from the cast and crew, JP Taravella High School’s “Cinderella” proved that kindness and love can make any dream come true through committed performance and technical elements. Ball guests may wish this show need not end before midnight and wonder if, in the midst of pure joy, a shoe was absentmindedly left behind.

*** *** ***

Review of Picasso at the Lapin Agile at Cooper City High School on Thursday, 11/10/2016.

By Sofie Whitney of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High

What happens when an eccentric scientific theorist and a pompous painter walk into a bar? Find out in Cooper City High School’s performance of Picasso at the Lapin Agile!

Written by American actor, writer, and comedian Steve Martin, Picasso at the Lapin Agile is an absurdist comedy that opened at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago on October 13, 1993. The play follows the story of Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso meeting at a bar in Montmartre, France called the Lapin Agile where they have a long-winded debate regarding the importance of their genius and talent. Einstein is about to publish his notorious Theory of Relativity and Picasso will soon begin to paint his acclaimed Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. After a night of arguing, Einstein and Picasso realize that both of their upcoming innovations are of equal value to society.

Austin Spoonts portrayed the wise and passionate scientist, Albert Einstein, with an enthusiastic energy that showed he had a strong understanding of his character. Spoonts possessed mannerisms that made his depiction of the world-renowned genius believable. As the flirtatious, self-absorbed, yet extremely skilled artist Pablo Picasso, Jacob Rones successfully conveyed the arrogant essence of his character. Even though he did not arrive at the bar until the second act, Rones had a strong stage presence that made him a standout performer. As the two bickered about the superiority of their respective passions, Spoonts and Rones played off of each other admirably and created an amusing chemistry.

David Lyn gave a specifically memorable performance as the experienced, yet blunt old man, Gaston. Lyn’s physicality and line delivery made his portrayal of the wise old man very believable. His impeccable comedic timing displayed that he had full comprehension of the absurdist style in which the play was meant to be performed in. Alex Brower characterized the obnoxious and odd self-proclaimed genius, Schmendiman. The minute Brower ran onto the stage he possessed lively energy and amusing quirks that brought a lot of life to this production.

Despite a few issues involving mics, the technical aspects ran smoothly. The amusing projections run by Chaphen Sen & Co. were effective in bringing yet another humorous element to the production. The charming set made by Rylee Kilman & Co. helped effectively produce the bar atmosphere and made it seem very authentic.

Cheers to the twentieth century! And cheers to the students of Cooper City High School on a successful production of Picasso at the Lapin Agile.

*** *** ***

Reviews of All Shook Up at Pine Crest School on Friday, 11/11/2016.

By Taylor Fish of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High

Grab your blue suede shoes and get ready to swivel your hips, because “One Night” at Pine Crest’s production of “All Shook Up” will keep your toes tapping and fingers snapping for days!

In some dreary town in the Midwest, the Mamie Eisenhower Decency Act has just outlawed the basic freedoms of public necking and loud music, but when the Roustabout Chad rides into town, he isn’t about to let this deprivation of rock and roll continue.  The community is swept up with swing dancing and tight pants, and the young, tomboyish mechanic Natalie goes to any length necessary to grab the attention of the new local rebel. With the music of Elvis Presley and book by Joe DiPietro, “All Shook Up”  is an American jukebox musical inspired by the misidentification in Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night. ” This concoction of Elvis classics and star-crossed lovers first premiered on Broadway on March 2, 2005 at the Palace Theatre and ended the course of its run in September of the same year.

Marisol Beaufrand’s portrayal of Natalie led this production with dignified humor and vocal ease. She showcased her adept acting abilities in the contrasts she formulated between her characterization of her female self and of Ed. Much of her humor arose from her clear attempting attitude towards being Ed that depicted distinctive differences from the ease she gave Natalie. Alongside her, playing into that humor, Rodrigo Torrejon gave an admirable performance as the charming womanizer Chad. Although his confusion with his feelings for “Ed” created many hysterical moments, the strongest suit of Torrejon’s performance was derived from his powerhouse vocals which emanated the groove of Elvis into his characterization.

Capturing the quirkiness and endearing qualities of Dennis with ease, Ryan Fiedler established one of the most emotionally connectable characters in the production. His natural tendencies to look with longing towards Natalie and his awkward mannerism made this adorable underdog someone to passionately root for. Unexpectedly, due to the sheepishness of his behavior, Fiedler revealed his incredible talent for vocalization in “It Hurts Me,” creating even more of sentiment desiring him to be successful with the girl he has always loved.

The technical aspects of the show contributed greatly to the 1950’s atmosphere of this rocking production. From the vibrancy of the buoyant dresses to the luminosity of the lighting design, the visual characteristics on stage heightened the energy of the occasionally lethargic ensemble and balanced the liveliness of the cast.

With the groovin’ beats of the King of Rock and Roll and the tenderness of all sorts of adoration, you just “Can’t Help Falling in Love” with Pine Crest’s production of “All Shook Up.”

*** *** ***

By Sofie Whitney of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High

“All the best things in life are magic: music, laughing, falling in love,” with hip-swiveling, young love, and catchy tunes, one just “Can’t Help Falling in Love” with Pine Crest School’s rockin’ performance of “All Shook Up.”

With the music and lyrics of Elvis Presley and book by Joe Dipietro, “All Shook Up” is a musical comedy based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Opening on Broadway in 2005, “All Shook Up” received mixed reviews and only ran for about six months. Set in a square town in the Midwest in the summer of 1955, “All Shook Up” tells the story of how the power of love and the impact of rock and roll turned this town upside down, through the classics of Elvis Presley.

Marisol Beaufrand, as Natalie, also known as Ed, displayed admirable vocals throughout the entirety of the show, specifically during the song “A Little Less Conversation”. Beaufrand accurately portrayed both the eager girl longing for a boy, and the male disguise that brought her closer to that boy. The wild, motorcycling, roustabout, Chad, was played by Rodrigo Torrejon. Torrejon possessed impressive vocalization and commitment that contributed to the success of the production.

As Dennis, the “slightly below average,” aspiring dentist that is head-over-heels for Natalie, Ryan Fiedler created much of the hilarity of this production. Fiedler accurately depicted the quirkiness of his character with exemplary energy and commitment. His superb vocals were exhibited all through the show, but particularly in his genuine and heartfelt solo “It Hurts Me.” Deanna Hennelly, as the elegant, desirable, and intelligent supervisor of the local museum, Miss Sandra, exuded an air of confidence from the minute she took the stage. She demonstrated crisp and remarkable vocals, as well as a demanding stage presence in the songs “Let Yourself Go” and “The Power of My Love. ”

Other notable performers included Noa Weiner, Tara Schulman, and Amanda Gomez, playing Sylvia, Lorraine, and Matilda, respectively. Weiner showcased her strong and dynamic vocal ability as she sang her heart out in “There’s Always Me” and had a strong connection with her daughter, played by Schulman, who captured the youthful energy one should have when falling hopelessly in love at 16. Gomez brought a positive comedic element to the production as the bitter, conservative Mayor. The principal roles and the ensemble came together at the end of Act 1 with a harmonious and show-stopping rendition of “Can’t Help Falling in Love” that added a moment of pure unity to the production.

Despite a few minor sound issues, the show’s technical aspects ran quite smoothly. Set changes were seamless and efficient, and the lighting and set helped to create the 1950s essence of the show wonderfully.

Elvis Presley once said, “Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t goin’ away,” and the truth shines bright that Pine Crest School’s performance of “All Shook Up” left the audience snappin’ their fingers and clappin’ their hands real loud.

*** *** ***

By Michelle Malove of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High
Grab your leather jackets, slip on your blue suede shoes, and swivel those hips with Pine Crest School’s cast of the jukebox musical as they show you what it means to be “All Shook Up”!

Based on William Shakespeare’s 1602 comedy Twelfth Night, and inspired by the infamous music of Elvis Presley, Joe DiPietro created soulful musical “All Shook Up”. After 33 previews, this production opened on Broadway on March 24th 2005, with 213 performances that ended on September 25th 2005. “All Shook Up” tells the story of a young mechanic Natalie, dazzled by the fresh-out-of-prison, hip-swiveling, guitar-playing roustabout Chad, whose presence in the 1950’s square town unveils the magic of romance and incites some rebelliousness in all its citizens. With love of all shapes and sizes in the air, Natalie attempts anything she can to win the heart of the good-looking, leather-jacketed stranger, even if it means changing her identity.

Playing the leading role of Natalie, Marisol Beaufrand carried the show with her commanding stage presence, supported and fluid singing voice, and believable characterization. She provided likable charm with the naivety of Natalie, and exhibited believable boyish demeanor in her portrayal of Ed, as well as displaying genuine chemistry with the other characters. Another notable performer was that of the roustabout Chad, played by Rodrigo Torrejon. His “bad-boy” stage presence in cohesion with the captivating smoothness and riffs of his singing voice helped to convey his Casanova character.

Much of the production’s success can be credited to the performances of Dennis and Miss Sandra. Ryan Fiedler (Dennis) and Deanna Hennelly (Miss Sandra) supplied an astounding amount of energy and enthusiasm, maintaining consistent character with every movement. Fiedler displayed impressive honesty and humor with his commitment of the nerdy, quirky, and awkward sidekick Dennis, while showcasing a breathtaking singing voice with perfect pitch, supported belting, and clear crisp riffs. On the other end of the spectrum, Deanna Hennelly manifested her sassy yet respectable character of Miss Sandra with her vivacious mannerisms of admiration towards Ed, in contrast with her curt remarks to Chad. Both supplied sincere chemistry with others on stage, as well as with each other when they realize they share newfound love. Furthering the success of the show was the performance of Sylvia, played by Noa Weiner. In her solo “There’s Always Me”, Weiner reveals her beautiful singing
voice supported with emotion and technique as she powers through high notes. The works of the lively ensemble, known as the barflies of the Honky Tonk, created a broad foundation to that of the leads, especially in the chill-inducing and harmonious company song “Can’t Help Falling In Love”.

Serving the technical aspects of the show, stage manager Hannah Printz led the cast and crew in swift scene changes, as well as marketing and publicizing the grandiose musical. By delving into modern social media and creating the colorful Snapchat filter geotag, “All Shook Up,” Printz advertised the show on a mass scale. Furthering the vibrancy of the show, the makeup design of Deanna Hennelly, Annika Polatesk, and Hannah Maister enhanced each character’s features and largely the aesthetic of the production as a whole.

Pine Crest School’s production of “All Shook Up” was an exhilarating journey that took the audience for a ride to follow your dreams, follow your heart, and follow the music.

*** *** ***

By Brooke Whitaker of Archbishop McCarthy High School

It’s hard not to fall in love with the loud music, public neckin’, and tight pants of Pine Crest’s production of the Elvis-inspired musical “All Shook Up”!

First premiering on Broadway in 2005, “All Shook Up” takes the romantic misadventures of the classic Shakespearian play Twelfth Night, places them in the 1950’s, and sets them to the hard-driving rock-and-roll of Elvis Presley. Mechanic Natalie is tired of her little town in the Midwest, and longs to escape to the open road, in the hopes of finding love and adventure. Enter Chad, a “rovin’ roustabout” with a broken-down motorbike and a penchant for hip-swiveling, who captures Natalie’s heart. She decides to pretend to be a man to get close to Chad, kicking off a hilarious series of love-related misunderstandings that has the whole town rebelling against their conservative laws and embracing the power of romance.

The show was bolstered by the infectious energy of the majority of the cast. While having an ensemble of over thirty people does mean that not everyone will be engaged at all times, for the most part each actor was dedicated and having a good time, most evident in the powerful Act One end number, “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”

Marisol Beaufrand gave a very likable performance as the tomboyish Natalie. She created a nice contrast between her true, timid self and the bolder “Ed”, her male persona, significantly changing her voice and how she carried herself to seem more masculine, yet always remaining believable. Rodrigo Torrejon as Chad captured the character’s cool, laid-back attitude, and his many musical numbers, particularly “I Don’t Want To”, demonstrated his strong vocals.

As Dennis, who’s sweet, awkward, and hopelessly in love with Natalie, Ryan Fiedler displayed remarkable commitment to character, hilarious comedic timing and perfect physicality. His solo “It Hurts Me” put all of this on display, and added his talented voice into the mix. Deanna Hennelly as Sandra, the seductive and intelligent museum employee, had a commanding stage presence, waltzing into each of her scenes with plenty of arresting charisma. Other actors, such as Tara Schulman (Lorraine) and Hunter Potak (Dean) as the “forbidden” lovers, or Henri Vrod (Jim) and Noa Weiner (Sylvia) as the older couple finding love again, carried their respective sub-plots with charm and comedy.

Hair and Make-Up, done by Deanna Hennelly and Co., reflected the time period with a modern spin. The set was simple, consisting of white platforms, yet was bathed in color through the lighting, which was consistently bright and vibrant, occasionally to the detriment of the scene changes. There were a few instances of microphones cutting out or reverberating, yet the actors pushed through this with strong projection, an admirable feat in such a large theater.

As Ed puts it, “the best things in life seem like magic: music, laughin’, fallin’ in love…” Pine Crest’s production of “All Shook Up” is brimming with these things and more, making for a very entertaining night of rock-and-roll.

*** *** ***

By Savannah Bergeron of Archbishop McCarthy High School

“If music be the food of love,” then prepare to feast your eyes on Pine Crest School’s production of All Shook up!

All Shook Up is a jukebox musical that first premiered in 2005 and is inspired by Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Using the music of Elvis Presley, it centers on a conservative small town whose denizens fall in (and out) of love after a rebellious roustabout rolls into town.

Pine Crest’s production featured a huge, forty person cast that, despite its size, had great chemistry and consistently high energy. Across the board, the cast handled the difficult harmonies in the show well, and the colorful lighting greatly contributed to the light-hearted mood of the musical.

Marisol Beaufrand portrayed Natalie, a small-town girl reading for “a little less conversation and a little more action,” with powerful vocals and sharp comedic timing. Beaufrand delivered a strong range of emotions, from pouty heartsickness to steely determination, and fully developed her character with sincerity. Beaufrand also created a distinct character in Natalie’s alter-ego, Ed. When disguised as Ed, Beaufrand changed both her body language and even dropped her voice dramatically to clearly differentiate the characters. Rodrigo Torrejon’s portrayal of Chad the “Roustabout” was also very energetic, with lots of Elvis-like pelvis moving and bluesy vocals, especially in numbers like “It’s Now or Never” and “I Don’t Want To.”

Ryan Fiedler as Dennis, Natalie’s best friend, created a humorous and intensely relatable foil to Chad. While Chad was cool and suave, Dennis was neurotic and terrified to tell Natalie he loved her. Fielder was able to fully develop his character’s arc and held an excellent stage presence, especially whenever he interacted with either Chad or Natalie. One of the strongest vocalists in the show was Noa Weiner as Sylvia. Weiner was fully committed to her character as a lonely young mother, even crying onstage during her heartwrenching solo number “There’s Always Me.” Deanna Hennelly also handled her difficult musical numbers well, belting and strutting across the stage in her role as the aloof and desired museum caretaker Sandra.

Although the set was simple, it was very versatile, as it was used to show a garage, a bar, a fair ground, and even a museum. The lighting was also used to great effect by including strobe lighting, spotlights, and purple and blue washes to build the mood. Whenever one of the characters fell in love with someone, the stage became colored in purple light, and a spotlight focused on the object of affection. Regarding sound, mics occasionally went out, but the talented orchestra and the ability of the cast to project compensated for any errors.

Wise men say only fools rush in, but Pine Crest’s production of “All Shook Up” shows how much fun new love is through the work of its dedicated and talented cast!

*** *** ***

Reviews of The Shadow Box at Western High School on Friday, 11/04/2016.

By Sydnie Rathe of American Heritage School

At Western High School’s production of The Shadow Box, audiences were swept into three different heart-wrenching tales centered on the ultimate theme of mortality.

Debuting on Broadway in March of 1977, The Shadow Box interweaves the severity of facing an impending death with the consequences of clinging to life. It was written by Michael Cristofer based off of his own experiences with terminal illnesses, and won a Tony Award for Best Play and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Innovative in its presentation of tender material, this play strives to capture the crushing power that the fear of death holds over human life.

The Shadow Box follows a day in the lives of three terminally ill patients. Joe, a warm father and dreamer who does his best to comfort his wife and son, lives in Cabin 1. Brian, a polymath perhaps too insightful for his own good, lives in Cabin 2. Felicity, an aged mother whose mental deterioration has taken a toll on both her and her daughter Agnes, lives in Cabin 3. And in each of these cabins, resides the looming specter of death itself.

In Cabin 3, Caitlyn Castiglione (Felicity) was absolutely stunning in her precise and quirky portrayal of the elderly character. She was able to perfectly balance the levity and solemnity required of the mentally exhausted woman, and she maintained impressive vocality as well as physicality throughout the duration of the show. In Cabin 2, Isabella Cring (Beverly) and Marco Massari (Mark) brought truth to their characters’ fairly unusual relationship with lighthearted humor and understanding of one another. In Cabin 1, Santiago Zornosa (Joe) radiated reassurance and strength in his mature character.

As a cast, these students tackled an enormously dark and challenging show with honesty and heart. While on occasion, character dynamics and heavier dramatic moments appeared forced, overall they captured the essence of their individual characters’ struggles and fears very nicely. Additionally, despite a few jarring, unclear focal shifts, scenes that involved most of the cast came together to build emotional pictures that revealed the true vulnerability of each character.

One of the most touching artistic choices in the direction of this show was in the pre-show music, Green Day’s “Good Riddance.” Not only did it bring a warmth to the room and perfectly introduce one of the central themes of the show, but also it tied the show together as it ended with Steve (Julia Chandler) playing the guitar and allowing her melodious voice to fill the theater. Other powerful aspects of this nature included the set, which proved to be both simplistic and effective. While there did remain a few elements that distracted from the production, namely sound malfunctions, the technical side of this show came together pleasantly to support the performance.

Despite a few minor inconsistencies, the students of Western High School captured the raw truth of mortality with strength and gave the audience the tools to realize that life is “something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right” and no matter what you can always strive to “have the time of your life.”

*** *** ***

By Jacob Greene of American Heritage School

Time is always fleeting. The moments we have on Earth are numbered, and it is imperative that we make each of those moments count. Even in the last days of life, there is still a chance to make life worth living. Western High School’s production of The Shadow Box showed just how fragile the gift of life is.

The Shadow Box, written by Michael Cristofer, premiered on stage in Los Angeles in 1975, and it transferred to Broadway about 2 years later. The show garnered much critical acclaim, and it received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play in 1977. Following its year long success on Broadway, director Paul Newman created a telefilm version of the play.

Leading the charge of this delicate show was undoubtedly Caitlyn Castiglione in the role of Felicity. There was a great contrast in her performance as she personified the frailty of a decaying elderly women with the stubbornness and unwavering will of a proud, fighting woman. Her physicality and vocal performance were captivating, and she had such freedom within her character even though she was confined to a wheelchair.

Another notable performance came from Santiago Zornosa who played Joe. He took a more hopeful approach to his character, and he embodied a loving, caring father and husband. His wide-eyed spirit resonated with many in the audience.

Marco Massari, who played Mark, and Isabella Cring who played Beverly, both delivered a compassionate and devoted performances in tandem. They were often scene partners and together they exuded a unique chemistry that lent itself beautifully to some of the dark humor written into their characters. They both had dynamic shifts in their affection for Brian from hopeful to scared to determined.

On a technical note, the play did suffer from some sound issues that, at moments, made it difficult to hear. And though the direction was wonderful at varying each individual story line, there were some discrepancies in whether or not other stories were progressing in silhouettes behind the main action. Either way, the cast did a phenomenal job at shining in their individual vignettes.

Terminal disease is never an easy topic to deal with, regardless of age. However, Western High School took some very challenging source material and explored how diseases affect each distinct person. There are no right answers on how to portray suffering and death, but Western handled this obstacle with poise and showed that life isn’t about the end. Rather, life is about everything that happens before the end. It’s all about the journey, not the destination.

*** *** ***

By Alejandra Duque of Cypress Bay High School

A terminal illness is defined as a disease that cannot be cured or adequately treated and is reasonably expected to result in death. Affecting the lives of the individuals bearing these devastating illnesses, as well as their friends and families, the tragedy of cancer and terminal illness is beautifully portrayed in Western High School’s production of The Shadow Box.

Written by Michael Cristofer and winner of the 1977 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Play, The Shadow Box began its success when it premiered on Broadway earlier that same year. The drama takes place over a 24-hour period on the cottage grounds of a hospital, and follows the separate and unique stories of three different patients and how they and their loved ones are coping with their terminal illness.

In a small cast of eight students, the actors all worked closely with each other in order to create the best performance possible. Although the energy level brought to the stage varied at times between performers, the entire cast was consistently in character and committed to their performance. Even when the focus of the scene was not on them, each member of the cast did not fail to stay engaged in the story and in their character.

Although each member of the cast excelled in some aspect, one particularly outstanding cast member was Caitlyn Castiglione in the complex role of extremely sullen and elderly Felicity. Playing a much older character as a young actor is no easy feat; however, Castiglione managed to do this almost naturally. Developing an incredibly real and genuine character, Castiglione made it easy to forget she was a high school actress rather than a terminally ill old woman. She did a wonderful job of portraying both Felicity’s hard-shelled moments as well as her more tender and softhearted scenes. In her voice and physicality, Castiglione demonstrated excellent and impressive duality as a performer. She also worked well with scene partner Jessica Restrepo, who played her daughter Agnes and was able to create and develop a strong relationship alongside Felicity throughout the play.

Providing one of the main male perspectives in the show was Santiago Zornosa, who played Joe. Giving an emotive performance, Zornosa was able to command the stage with conviction and take charge of his role. Usually appearing in scenes focusing on him as well as his wife and daughter, Zornosa initiated the relationships, created, and was able to lead the scenes, making sure they flowed to the best of their ability.

Serving as refreshing comic relief in an extremely dark and serious show, was Isabella Cring who played the drunkenly eccentric, but charming, Beverly. Cring was able to excel in comedic timing and line delivery; she knew exactly the right places to be bold and funny. Her portrayal of Beverly was perhaps so successful because she managed to create a real character and make Beverly a raw, genuine person.

Although The Shadow Box did not necessarily build to its true poignant ability, a subject matter as serious as terminal illness is not one that is easy to portray. Nevertheless, the cast did a nice job of giving the play and their performances their all, shining bright and definitely not getting lost in the shadows.

*** *** ***

By Nicole Sugarman of JP Taravella High School

“This lifetime doesn’t last forever.” Three families are forced to face this harsh reality as they struggle with the idea of losing their loved ones in the blink of an eye. Western High School put on a poignant production, delving into the ideas of impending loss and heartbreaking actuality.

Written by Michael Cristofer, The Shadow Box takes place over a 24-hour time period and tells the story of three terminal cancer patients, Brian, Joe, and Felicity, living on a large hospital ground anticipating their final days of life. They are accompanied by their close family and friends as they experience new feelings and thoughts. This riveting play depicts the contrasting reactions the patients have to the illness devitalizing them, as well as the influence of the sickness on their relationships throughout the show.

Santiago Zornosa, playing the family-oriented Joe, encapsulated the attention of the audience from his first moments on the stage. His ability to handle the challenging material with ease, while also creating a believable, mature character, showcased his astounding acting skills. Playing the enfeebled, yet feisty, Felicity, Caitlyn Castiglione completely embodied this strenuous role through her phenomenal physicality and amazing vocalization. Castiglione demonstrated the debilitating mind and elderliness of Felicity superbly, making it difficult for the audience to remember she was a high school student.

Playing the hilarious and sarcastic Beverly, Isabella Cring brought the comedic relief to this dramatic production. Her witty remarks and insightful comments were delivered spectacularly and helped to further her characterization. Jessica Restrepo, playing the mousy and restrained Agnes, developed a powerful relationship with Felicity and did an excellent job portraying the inner frustrations of her character.

The set in this play was simple. Despite some microphone issues, notably the occasional popping of microphones, all other technical elements ran fluidly. The use of the song “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” in the beginning and end of the show was a very subtle, yet impactful, addition to the production, setting the tone and wrapping up the play nicely.

The Shadow Box presented a complete look into the suffering an illness can induce for loved ones as the unimaginable becomes a reality. The students of Western High School did an impeccable job portraying such complex characters and committing to them without fail. This compelling play allows you to reflect on the life you have lived so far, as well as the current gift you must not take for granted, the present.

*** *** ***

By Eve Cohen of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High

“How are you feeling?”, a question that never seems to receive a truthful response. When three patients who suffer a terminal disease are asked this question, the outlook is rarely promising. The arduous struggles of having an incurable illness are beautifully illustrated in Western High School’s production of “The Shadow Box”.

Written by Michael Cristofer, “The Shadow Box” first appeared on Broadway on March 31, 1977. This heartfelt tragedy is the winner of the 1977 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Play. The entire play takes place over the course of 24 hours and alternates between the unbearable lives of three terminal cancer patients who desire acceptance from their loved ones. Felicity, Joe, and Brian are all victims of this destructive disease, and as showcased in the production, the patients’ symptoms affect them each differently.

Sarcastically pessimistic and brimming with false hope, Felicity, portrayed by Caitlyn Castiglione, added an enjoyably humorous element to this rather somber production.  From the disheartening moments awaiting the arrival of her deceased daughter Claire, to the satirical cackles following each verse of her traditionally playful jingle, Castiglione displayed skillful abilities and absolute commitment to a relatively difficult role.

The compassionately strong family man Joe, depicted by Santiago Zornosa, clearly showcased his fears towards his family’s acceptance of his terminal illness. Zornosa’s truthful and believable characteristics made for an intriguing character. Joe’s optimistically joyful daughter Stevie, played by Julia Chandler, emitted positive energy and delivered youthful spirit every time she appeared on stage.

Brant Boehm (Brian) did a respectable job of portraying the liberal and refined qualities his character called for. Boehm carried an erudite tone throughout the performance, which made for a satisfying portrayal of the role. Spontaneous, profane, and full of life, Beverly, portrayed by Isabella Cring, had an admirable connection with Boehm and consistently provided humor and wit to the production. She presented spot-on comedic timing and amusing one liners that continuously left the audience laughing.

Besides minor sound issues, particularly the popping of certain microphones, all technical aspects of the production ran smoothly and properly fit the essence of the show. The concentrated spotlight used when the patients were interviewed helped add intimacy to each character’s story, and costuming and makeup accurately conveyed the time period of the show.

“If I am dying, I must still be alive”. Similar to how Joe, Felicity, and Brian face struggles to feel “alive” while they are facing their death, Western High faced challenges to make a delicate and depressing show “alive”  with energy, and they completely succeeded in their efforts. This dedicated cast truly emphasized that memories last a lifetime, and the best way to preserve them are inside “The Shadow Box”.

*** *** ***

Reviews of The Crucible at South Plantation High School on Saturday, 10/29/2016.

By Lorrie Axelrod of Pine Crest School

It can be hard for the deaf and hard of hearing to become engaged in theater. Sign language interpreters, though extremely helpful, do not allow deaf audience members to fully experience a show. South Plantation High School, one of the only schools to offer a program for the deaf, cast tradition aside to create a rendition of “The Crucible” that is truly one of a kind. The dark, witchcraft-filled production follows a series of deaf characters who are narrated in English, rather than the other way around.

“The Crucible”  initially debuted on Broadway in 1953 and was written by Arthur Miller. Taking place in Salem, Massachusetts in the 1690’s, “The Crucible”  tells a story about religion, sin, and justice. The play begins with a young woman, Betty, lying on the ground. It is assumed by the town that evil spirits are possessing Betty, and someone is to blame. People throughout the town are questioned by law enforcement until there is eventually enough evidence for a trial to be held. It is in that trial that the audience can learn the true character of those who reside in Salem, and who pays for Betty’s misfortune.

The first scene of “The Crucible”  immediately sets the tone. Once the lights dimmed and the theater went quiet, a man, hanging from a noose, fell to his death. When more characters begin to appear on stage, the scene seems chaotic and confusing. However, once the audience figures out who is voicing the characters and who is acting in sign language, the confusion fades.

The ensemble did an amazing job portraying their emotions through their body language and using American Sign Language confidently and fluently. The two speakers for the show, otherwise known as Voices of the Unheard were also phenomenal. It amazed me how Adam Ortega and Sierra Nixon were able to memorize every word in the play and transition from accent to accent seamlessly.

Abigail Williams, played by Kelly Walsh, is the main antagonist of “The Crucible”. She truly hit the nail on the head. Her emotion radiated off of her at all times, creating a stronger impression than any other character. Even when Abigail is not the center of attention, she is constantly emoting and reacting to the scene at play.

The light and sound of “The Crucible”  really adds to the overall effect. When the mood darkens, so does the background. The whispers that envelop the auditorium also further enhance the production.

Although the concept of this play is excellent and the talent is remarkable, at times it is easy to get confused. While the Voices of the Unheard are very emotional and skilled, at times they tended to rush. Had the production been slightly less complicated, the audience may have received a slightly more complete picture of the story line.

All around, the cast of “The Crucible”  performed very well. Although the play itself is not a show that fits my tastes, the talent showcased at South Plantation High School is well worth the price of admission.

*** *** ***

By Nicole Sugarman of JP Taravella High School

An eerie, high-pitched ringing noise encompasses the theatre. The sound of soft whispers, gradually increasing in volume, creates a sense of suspicion as the audience sits and listens to this chaos unravel. When the clamor reaches its climax, a trap door bursts open and almost instantly, a man swings from a noose. At this point in time, South Plantation High School’s unique production of “The Crucible” begins to unfold.

The Crucible, written by Arthur Miller, situates itself in Salem, Massachusetts Bay Colony in the year 1692. This tragedy is centralized around the Salem witch trials and the effects it has on our main characters as they explore the ideas of witchcraft and maneuver their way through accusations. The audience watches as the main characters struggle with the pain of loss and frustration of what is known and what remains a mystery.

In this special spin on the classic, the director decided to make this play a style of “deaf theatre.”  This meant that the actors on stage only spoke in American Sign Language. The only English spoken throughout the production was done by one female and one male performing as all female and male roles.

The Voices of the Unheard, the two translators, did an exceptional job communicating with the audience without the ability to emote using facial expressions. The female translator, Sierra Nixon, had fantastic diction and was able to express herself through only her voice. The male translator, Adam Ortega, had great intensity in his delivery and consistently kept up his energy, especially during more powerful moments. Both interpreters used opposing vocal styles when speaking as different roles, assisting the audience in distinguishing each character. They continuously matched the performers’ intense expressions and movements with their equally as captivating volume and inflection.

Apart from the two verbal performers, the remainder of the cast was primarily without the use of oral communication. Playing John Proctor, Edwins Garcon, was able to use his passionate movements and powerful countenance to display a wide variety of emotions. Kelly Walsh, playing the manipulative Abigail Williams, exhibited incredible skill by intently watching the action onstage and staying in the moment without cessation. The ability of both of these actors to easily relay emotions through only their physicality and facials was remarkable. Several females in this production were given the responsibility of playing men, and did so in an extremely convincing manner.

The elaborate set in this production was pleasing to the eye and effective in its uses. In particular, the hanging platform was very intriguing and unique, making it a notable piece of scenery.  The brilliant lighting in this production emphasized climactic moments, catapulting the viewers into the story and allowing them to sympathize with each character.

The heartbreaking story of “The Crucible” is a bewitching play about betrayal, innocence, and bravery. South Plantation High School took this tragic story line and made it accessible for a wider audience. This memorable production of “The Crucible” successfully tackled the challenging task of creating a show appealing to all. The students did an outstanding job at allowing the viewers to see things from a whole new perspective.

*** *** ***

By Dylan Redshaw of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High

Arthur Miller once said, “The job of artists is to remind people of what they have chosen to forget.” In our busy day-to-day lives, it is easy to overlook the challenges that others may face, but through the artistry at South Plantation High School, the students took the time to help us remember. With the use of American Sign Language, “The Crucible”  is accessible to a multitude of people and adds an emotional touch that varies from the traditional production.

Written in 1953 by American playwright, Arthur Miller, as an act of desperation against the blacklisting that occurred during the McCarthy Era, “The Crucible” tells the heart-wrenching story of Abigail Williams’ allegations towards John Proctor and his innocent wife. When a group of young puritan girls are suspected of introducing witchcraft into the town, chaos ensues, leaving righteous people’s lives at stake.

Edwins Garcon, as the honest, yet manipulative, John Proctor, commanded the stage impeccably, demonstrating unending authenticity and utmost commitment in his every step. His intriguing physicality and clear choices helped tremendously in the development of his dramatic character throughout the show. The juvenile and jealous, Abigail Williams, was portrayed by Kelly Walsh with a constant, exuberant charisma and genuine facial expressions, never allowing her energy to falter. Whether she was emoting eerie, demonic traits or slyly flirting with Mr. Proctor, Walsh expressed exceptional characterization and versatile levels that amplified the overall show intensity.

Eliana Feldman, playing the role of the authoritative Reverend Parris, successfully accomplished the challenging task of personifying a male, thriving off of her strict, distinct mannerisms and enticing engagement in the heightened courtroom. The Deputy Governor Danforth was also portrayed confidently by a female, Yasmin Rocha, who presented admirable believability and exhibited a cogent understanding of her character with her bold reactions and posture. For the most part, the females did a remarkable job personifying older men; the actresses should be praised for overcoming this large barrier with such finesse.

The voices of the unheard, Adam Ortega and Sierra Nixon, spoke with unconditional awareness and fascinating dynamics for every diverse character in the performance. The two alone interpreted the show orally, individualizing each respective voice with specific inflections and fluency that accentuated the tone of each scene. Through their captivating delivery of each complex line and clear focus in every moment, Ortega and Nixon took side interpretations to a whole new level, illustrating a creative, noteworthy approach to live theater.

From the favorably intricate set to the refined costumes, technically, the show was quite brilliant. The sound, by Sarai Posadas, created an ominous mood, reflective of the historical events in Salem the play was based off of. Makeup and hair, designed and executed by Dominique Mitchell, Paige Slowinski, and Eliana Feldman, was extremely impressive; transferring young ladies into mature men with realistic beards can be complicated.

South Plantation High School’s production of “The Crucible” was truly majestic. The students should take pride in their immense accomplishment of incorporating deaf culture into the well-known story of detestable witchcraft, evident truth, and the power of conscience.

*** *** ***

By Amorie Barton of Pompano Beach High School

The infamous story of the Salem Witch Trials came to life on stage at South Plantation’s production of “The Crucible”.

This Tony award winning piece by Arthur Miller was written in 1953.  Miller wrote this play as an allegory of the time period in which the United States government was trying to bring fourth all individuals suspected of being communists, Miller being one of them.  The story itself takes place in 1692 in the Puritan run Massachusetts Bay Colony.  “The Crucible” tells the story John Proctor, whose wife along with various other women, have been wrongfully accused of witchcraft by a group of young girls in an attempt to cover up their own tracks.  This tale of intense fear and mass hysteria was skillfully performed and left the audience yearning for more.

The overall production of “The Crucible”  put on by South Plantation High School was handled in such an exquisite and unique manner. Unlike in many other stage productions in which shadow actors or offstage interpreters might translate the performance into American Sign Language (ASL) for deaf audience members, South Plantation completely flipped the script having the actors on stage perform in ASL while two voice actors to the side of the stage spoke every part.  This in no way took away from the overall impact of the story as the “Voices of the Unheard”, Adam Ortega and Sierra Nixon, masterfully portrayed each character’s voice. Ortega and Nixon worked expertly together in order to voice perfectly timed interactions between characters, as well as to accurately and purposely distort their voices in accordance with the emotions that were happening on stage, only having few very minor mistakes.

Despite not physically speaking their dialogue, most actors on stage performed their parts in ASL with such intent and emotion.  With every step they took and with each facial expression they made, the motivations and emotions behind their movements easily resonated loudly in the minds of the audience. Edwins Garcon, who portrayed John Proctor, easily embodied his character. No matter what the situation was or to whom he was speaking to on stage Garcon was able to consistently stay in character and show his emotions to the audience. Kelly Walsh who played Abigail Williams also accomplished this feat.  Being a very crucial component of the plot, the believability and effectiveness of the production relied heavily on Walsh’s ability to accurately portray her character, which she was able to do with ease. During Walsh’s monologues, a mixture of her facial expressions and hand movements really helped push her performance over the top.

A major contributing factor to the play’s success was the effective usage of the theater’s lighting and sound. With each different scenario or emotion being seen on stage, the lighting and sound would constantly change to set the atmosphere making the play’s message just that more emotional. The mixture of sound and mood lighting made scene transitions appear seamless.  The make-up and costumes worked very well together on stage in order to represent the time period and the age of different characters.  Although a few mic glitches here and there made certain dialogue inaudible a majority of the play ran smoothly

With great performances, and memorable moments, South Plantations unique take on “The Crucible” is certainly one that should not be missed.

*** *** ***

By Charlotte Bacharach of Cardinal Gibbons High School

A show about the Salem Witch Hunts? Right before Halloween? Perfect timing! South Plantation High School brought Arthur Miller’s, The Crucible, to life with a brilliant show, complete with passion and energy in American Sign Language. Set in 1692 Salem, Massachusetts, this timeless classic depicts the witch hunts of early American Puritans, parallel to the Communist Red Scare of the 1950’s. In The Crucible, orphan Abigail Williams creates a plot to accuse the people of Salem “particularly a woman named Elizabeth Proctor” of witchcraft, all so she could have Elizabeth’s husband, John.

This eerie, sinister show contained many talented performers who breathed life and emotion into the characters of Salem. An especially stellar performance came from Edwins Garcon, playing John Proctor. A dynamic character with many different moods, as well as both internal and external conflicts, Garcon portrayed Proctor with constant, exceptional energy and emotion. Kelly Walsh, playing the antagonist Abigail Williams, provided a superb performance with phenomenal acting and character display. The Voices of the Unheard (Adam Ortega and Sierra Nixon) spoke the lines for the signing actors, and created awe with their dedication and poise. They kept in sync with the actors and handled any mistakes with full composure, as well as delivered all their lines with intensity and intention.

Actors of “The Crucible” were all admirable and played their parts with elegance and professionalism. Incredibly memorable scenes included those of Abigail and the girl’s in the courtroom, and John’s confession. The echoing of voices and the possessed looks given by Kelly Walsh (Abigail Williams), Nya Hedman (Mercy Lewis), and Dominique Mitchell (Susanna Walcott) were so chillingly believable, it seemed as if these actresses were truly possessed. Edwins Garcon (John Proctor) gave full emotion and remarkable character development during his scene where he confessed to his prior affair with Abigail Williams. The pain and agony for him to taint his good name in this way was fully evident, and heart wrenching to watch. All actors within this production provided a captivating show through energy, emotion, diligence, and determination. Throughout this long, challenging show, some actors would occasionally lose character, and articulation was seldom an issue, but they went past any issues with quiet composure.

The technical aspects of “The Crucible” were amazing. Makeup and hair, done by Dominique Mitchell, Paige Slowinski, and Eliana Feldman, showed great on stage, and looked extremely real and convincing. The difficult job of making many of these teenagers resemble older men and women was executed remarkably. Though not always fitting the scenes, the grim set of Salem was impressive and extremely well done. Costumes “made by Curtis Dodgen and Crew” were uniform and pleasantly fit the styles worn during the time period. Overall, technical aspects were conveyed beautifully with skill and poise, creating the essence of 1600’s Salem within a modern day high school.

A four act, lengthy performance catered to the deaf in American Sign Language, South Plantation High School took up this challenge of “The Crucible” in a professional manner with talent and dedication.

*** *** ***

Reviews of Frankenstein at The Sagemont School on Sunday, 10/30/2016.

By Amanda Ribnick of Cypress Bay High School

The stage is dark, the sounds of thunder and lightning can be heard as the lights are flared. A body thrusts itself through a cloth screen, and as it’s face is revealed, the monster awakens.

The Gothic tale of Frankenstein was originally written in 1818 by Mary Shelley, an English novelist. In this more recent adaptation by Nick Dear, we follow the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who is intrigued by the concept of resurrection, and his creation.

The story begins with the birth of The Creature (Paxton Terris). Terris had superior control over his character’s movement, emotions, and dialect throughout the entire show, always bringing energy to the stage. His commitment to the physicality and nature of his character was impeccable and spine-tingling, especially when on stage with other actors. Terris clearly developed individual relationships with every scene partner.

Andres Hernandez (Victor Frankenstein) grew more invested in his character as the plot thickened. His most impactful moment was when he said, “I don’t know what love is,” in Act 2. It was in that moment that his character came full circle with his prior choices, specifically concerning his love interest, Elizabeth Lavenza (Marcella Vargas). Although it was clear that he held a deep regard for her, it was also apparent that there was a distance between them, which was crucial to the development of the show.

Some of the most relevant scenes in the play took place between De Lacey, a blind man, and The Creature. De Lacey (Alan Corvaia) developed strong onstage chemistry with Terris as they contemplated ancient philosophies and The Creature’s origin. In the midst of these scenes, Terris engaged himself in a dance-oriented dream sequence where he and a Female Creature (Kayla Smith) captivated the audience with their malformed pas-de-deux. The pair maintained the distraught bodily structures of their characters while creating a beautiful image of The Creature’s desire for love.

All of the actors illustrated picturesque moments throughout the show, specifically between The Creature, Frankenstein, and Elizabeth. There was a moment between Terris and Hernadez when they first met face to face. In this scene, Terris stood on the mountain in front of Hernandez, foreshadowing how the appearance of The Creature in Frankenstein’s life would eventually create a power play in which The Creature was in control. There was also a moment between Hernandez and Vargas prior to Frankenstein’s departure from Geneva where Frankenstein’s back was turned to her when she opened the door, symbolizing how even if the door was open, he still couldn’t comprehend how to let love into his heart.

The ensemble was prominent in the technical aspects of the show, as they were “The Machine” that managed the set changes. Although there were a few difficulties with set changes and their speed, they weren’t detrimental to the production as a whole. Certain members of the ensemble were more apparent than others. The lack of mics due to the black box theatre proved to be quite effective in most cases, and made the performance more engaging. The makeup and costumes were impactful, appropriate, and enhanced the performance.

As the show closed, we were left to ponder whether we are born monsters, or if the society we live in is what creates the darkness within.

*** *** ***

By Aysha Zackria of NSU University School

Stitch together an iconic tale of monster and man, scarily excellent chemistry, and an engaging cast and suddenly, The Sagemont School’s production of Frankenstein is alive!

Victor Frankenstein, a Swiss alchemist, creates a monster by putting together and reanimating pieces of corpses. When his creature comes to life with a mind of its own, he is forced to deal with the consequences. Based on Mary Shelley’s book of the same name, this play was adapted by Nick Dear in 2011, opening at the Royal National Theatre in London the same year.

Paxton Terris, playing The Creature, was fully in character before even saying his first word. His spastic, extreme physicality made the fact that he was multiple people sewn together completely believable. The falls and convulsions looked as uncontrollable and organic as they would if they were actually happening to him. His constant reactions and engagement created chemistry with every other actor. The evolution from speaking in groans to broken English and then finally to a fully formed articulation was realistic and impressive, causing the audience to question what makes a monster and what makes a man.

Andres Hernandez, as Victor Frankenstein, skillfully expressed his horror at having to face the monster he created and the ever-present difference between can and should. His outward determination and pride was displayed through strong, mature delivery of his lines. Marcella Vargas, playing Elizabeth Larenza, was light in a heavy show. Her portrayal of a strong, yet vulnerable, woman was supported by her spot-on accent and facial expressions. Hernandez and Vargas worked in tandem to develop their strained romantic relationship. Kayla Smith, as Female Creature, beautifully reflected The Creature’s physicality, mirroring him throughout their dance in his abstract dream sequence. Alan Corvaia, as De Lacey, easily conveyed his blindness, staring at seemingly nothing. His posture and intonation were wise and fatherly. The Machine, an ensemble of characters, carried the theme of creation and mechanization through choreographed and robotic scene changes and a factory-like movement piece.

Choreography, by Kayla Smith and Paxton Terris, was crucial to the effectiveness of the fight scenes and the overall success of the show. Lighting, by Ivette Serrano, Jourdan Press, and crew, met the mood of each scene perfectly. At the very beginning, the sound and lighting collaborated to create the heartbeat of The Creature, newly born. Makeup, by Ariel Seligman-Delgado, Maggie Roach, Sam Suito, and crew, ranged from basic beauty makeup to the wounds and stitches on both of the creatures, all of which were artistically executed. Set, by Nathaniel Cereceda, Ariana Richiez, and company, tied in the idea of mechanization with the motif of gears, which were placed throughout all of the scenes.

This daring, raw production of Frankenstein was The Sagemont School’s “greatest experiment!”

*** *** ***

By Claire Lefort of JP Taravella High School

Society often acts as a cruel judgement of character, barking criticism and resentment towards those with the slightest differences. Yet, what happens when a man, soul as pure as a child’s but face a horrid as a monster, meets the unforgivable brutality of humanity and is alienated based on his appearance? The Sagemont School’s production of Frankenstein is an emotional rollercoaster regarding the social injustice of a once harmless creature.

Frankenstein was originally a novel written by Mary Shelley in the early 1800s, later adapted into a play by Nick Dear. In 2011, the show debuted in the Royal National Theatre located in London, England.

From the moment the lights lit up the stage, the audience was captivated and breathless. The opening scene revealed Frankenstein’s creature, played by Paxton Terris, coming to life and left to fend for himself in a world of misunderstanding and fear. Terris’ performance was absolutely breathtaking, as the actor was able to take on the challenging role and place himself in complete vulnerability. His character development was clearer than day, as his more “human-like” behavior became stronger with passing time. It was incredible to see such a broken individual form into a loving being with the right care, demonstrating to the audience how hatred and prejudice actions form even more acrimony, to the point where it could be considered dangerous and life threatening. In short, Paxton Terris gave a jaw dropping performance in chemistry, energy, and acting. His character was truly the one who brought the show to life.

Alan Corvaia (De Lacey) was another who stood out among the crowd. His character, a blind man, is the first to show compassion to The Creature. The father/son relationship between the two is something to admire, as De Lacey teaches The Creature how to speak, write, and read. He opens The Creature’s curious mind to the world and manages to help him understand the feeling of love. Overall, Alan Corvaia quality performance of the loving and supportive fatherly role was exceptional. Marcella Vargas, who portrayed the role of Elizabeth Lavenza, often brought a smile to one’s face. She showed herself to be a strong-willed and witty woman in love, winning the hearts of the audience members through her sympathy and comedic ways. The ensemble represented the townspeople and “The Machine,” often seen changing sets in a mechanical behavior. While not all the steps were synchronized or played out fully, the concept was unique and interesting to watch.

The lights and sound complemented each other perfectly. The first reveal of this was in the first few minutes of the play, where the lights and sound matched up to portray a heartbeat. As the show continued, the light design (created by multiple light operators) matched the show and emotion incredibly well. Makeup was another stellar tech aspect, designed by Ariel Seligman and crew, especially on The Creature.

The execution of this show was impressive on both acting and technical sides. Sagemont High School did a superior job pulling off this production.

*** *** ***

By Susanna Ninomiya of Somerset Academy Arts Conservatory

In life and in art, people are typically given only one point of view of a story, and refrain from even thinking of the existence of another side to the story. The story of Frankenstein in popular culture is typically a one-sided affair about a scary monster. And The Sagemont School’s production of Frankenstein adequately portrays the experience from the monster’s perspective, showing you another side of this complex story.

Adapted from the novel of the same name written by Mary Shelley, the play Frankenstein is a more humane retelling of the original story where much of the focus is on the obsessive scientist Victor Frankenstein’s sad creation. We follow the painful progress of The Creature, or most commonly known as “Frankenstein’s Monster,” as he interacts with the world and slowly transforms to becoming close to human as he learns the harsh reality of society.

Paxton Terris captures the suffering of The Creature and immediately grabs the audience’s attention from the opening sequence of his birth and the testing out of his body. This was the most compelling scene in the show. Paxton’s writhing movements across the stage truly seemed to entrance the audience. In those agonizing moments of The Creature finding his feet, time seemed to stop as he was taking in his surroundings. It was truly a spectacular and horrific scene. Equally as monstrous, Andres Hernandez plays the young, mad scientist Victor Frankenstein, the creator of the disgusting creature who embodies a man that only knows love in the name of science. Terris’s engaging and exaggerated movements mixed well with Hernandez’s crazed mannerisms, as they both shared good chemistry. De Lacey, played by Alan Corvaia, was an intriguing character as he taught The Creature how to read and write. He also introduced the idea of love and compassion to The Creature, emotions and sensations the monster would later desire.

The ensemble had great energy as they embodied a machine, having a cool steam punk-like aesthetic and nice, clock-like movements. Although failing sometimes to consistently move as one like a machine with some transitional issues, the overall ensemble added to the rich, dark tones of the play. There was an effective use of versatile sets that helped with the imagery in the scenes, even if at times it was lacking in terms of quality and imagination. The costumes were well done as they accurately and appropriately depicted the era of the play. Additionally, the sound and lights were well timed with the scenes, especially in the opening sequence where the actor, lights, and sound were in unison. Despite some light and sound execution shortcomings, it didn’t take away from the scenes. The makeup was outstanding and was a real highlight of the production as it helped The Creature come to life.

The production of Frankenstein was one that leaves the audience pondering about the conflict between the creator and his progeny, and the torturous relationship between the two. It’s a challenge to bring to light the lesser-known side of a story, however Sagemont managed to show that not everything is as it seems.

*** *** ***

By Isabel Hidalgo of Cooper City High School

Many people have said that to play God “in other words, for human kind to create sentient life much like ourselves” will bring upon us our own destruction. Pulsing, heart-beat-like flashes that illuminate the womb from which a new kind of man is violently born are only the beginning of the terrible punishments Victor Frankenstein is subject to for his prideful attempt at becoming a deity in the Sagemont School’s production of Frankenstein.

This play is adapted from Mary Shelley’s gothic science fiction novel of the same name. The play takes the audience through the grotesque trials and tribulations of The Creature, the beast that Victor Frankenstein created. Through both The Creature’s and Victor’s experiences, philosophical ideas on human nature, pride, and love are revealed.

At the start of the play, The Creature is just being born, a writhing, screaming, disgusting mess. The intense physicality that The Creature, (played by Paxton Terris), executes as someone who is just experiencing the world and the ability to move for the first time is both terrifying and amazing all at once; this sort of performance with mechanically awkward, yet fitting movements occurred throughout the entire play. Consistencies in speech patterns, gawky movements, and diversity in character development were other fantastic factors of Terris’ performance. As The Creature moves throughout the world, experiencing humanity and its flaws, he meets other characters, all of which Terris has organic interactions with, whether these others are terrified of him or accept him for who he is.

When The Creature meets his creator, Victor, for the first time, the scene is one of the most powerful in the play. The fighting choreography that occurs throughout this scene is realistic, well-timed, and engaging. Victor, played by Andres Hernandez, and Terris both seem to have true hatred for each other. As the play goes on, Hernandez and Terris continue to develop their respective characters in truly wondrous ways as they each interact with more people, most notably with the character of Elizabeth Lavenza, played by Marcella Vargas. Both Terris and Hernandez have their own different, yet still potent, chemistry with Vargas’ character, and she herself works equally well with each.

Throughout the play, the technical aspects of light and sound were extremely punctual, and the way the lights were used added an extra dimension to the play. The spotlighting done by the lights crew helped to immerse oneself into the scene before them, as well as adding to the mood of each scene. The makeup was extensive and detailed, particularly in the makeup for The Creature, with its gory wounds and the sheer amount of makeup that had to be applied.

It is because of Victor Frankenstein that we learn not to play God, and it is because of The Creature that Victor creates that we learn how flawed humanity is and how much more we have to learn to tolerate others. Thus, the lessons learned in Sagemont School’s fantastic production of Frankenstein.

*** *** ***

Reviews of Into the Woods at Coral Glades High School on Friday, 10/28/2016.

*** *** ***

By Erin Cary of NSU University School

Stumble into a world of fairytales at Coral Glades High school’s thrilling production of “Into the Woods”!

“Into the Woods” tells the story of a baker and his wife who wish only for a child but are cursed to go childless forever. With help from Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and a little boy named Jack, the two begin their journey into the woods to reverse the curse. Featuring music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by James Lapine, “Into the Woods” premiered on Broadway in 1987. The production was extremely well-received, earning three Tony Awards, numerous revivals, and a Disney film adaptation.

Eli Flynn, as the Witch, commanded the stage, consistently maintaining high energy and strong comedic timing. His snarky comments brightened the stage, often bringing a much needed humor to the show. The Baker (Elijah Miller) and the Baker’s Wife (Sophia Young) displayed strong dynamics and developed a convincing relationship. Sophia Young, as the Baker’s Wife, embodied her character extremely well through realistic physicality and determination. Her performance in songs like “Moment in the Woods” captured the conflicted emotion and resolve of the Baker’s Wife impressively. The leads of the show made up for other characters whose reactions and enunciation were at times less remarkable.

Haley Amann, as Cinderella, also gave a compelling performance, often best at portraying the suffering of her character. Her physicality and expressions helped to make dramatic scenes more meaningful. Kori Zamora and Megan Begley, portraying Jack and Little Red Riding Hood respectively, brought a more cheerful energy to the stage. Begley’s physicality and comedic moments helped to solidify her childishness and innocence.

Other notable performances include those of Austin Blake, as Cinderella’s Prince, Noland Creary, as the Mysterious Man, and Faith Donaldson, as Milky White. The three women of Cinderella’s step family also helped to improve the performance, developing the show’s more comedic side. While some actors were hard to understand or appeared disinterested, the cast as a whole developed the text fluently. At the end of the show, the cast’s energy seemed to resurface in the exciting Act II Finale.

The show’s technical elements helped to convey the meaning of the show. The props were constructed well and almost always used effectively. The show’s sets were not only visually pleasing but also helped to clarify the show’s plot. The production’s lighting, although at times lacking in diversity, generally kept the stage well lit. The costumes and makeup helped the audience identify the show’s classic storybook characters, and the production’s marketing team made use of many social media outlets. The orchestra, while at times overpowering, played the show’s music fairly well.

Through a delightful performance, the students at Coral Glades High School brought to life the fairytales of our youth and took their audience on a once-in-a-lifetime trip Into the Woods.

*** *** ***

By Valen -Marie Santos of American Heritage School
As bright yellow light fills the stage, and actors stand frozen as the famous words “once upon a time” are spoken, Coral Glades High school’s production of “Into the Woods” seems perfectly normal, like a plain handful of beans. However, once the show builds through intense acting moments and supporting technical elements, the production grows into a great, beautiful beanstalk–taller than you’d imagine, and more magical than you’d think.

A Tony Award-winning musical, “Into the Woods” cleverly intertwines the stories of “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Jack and the Beanstalk,” “Rapunzel,” and “Cinderella.” With book by James Lapine and music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, the musical takes a sharp, dark turn in the second act as it explores what happens after “happily ever after.” Debuting in 1986, the musical still lives on stronger than ever, with a recent film adaptation in 2014, and frequent appearances in many high schools across the country.

Although most theatre companies would consider the character of Milky White a technical subject, Coral Glades High School makes the interesting and unique choice of having a person play the cow. Not only does this choice exhibit great creativity, but it also better establishes the strong bond between Milky White and Jack, and offers the audience a way to see what the creature is feeling. Faith Donaldson, the actress behind Milky White, playfully and humorously portrays the cow, adding some light, comedic moments to the show.

Although the ensemble as a whole often works together to create strong, energetic moments, such as the “Act Two Finale,” individual actors showcase many skills that enhance and enliven the production. Sophia Young, who portrays the Baker’s Wife, constantly keeps a clear presence throughout the show, and especially shines in her solo “Moment In the Woods.” Her contemplation and confusion, along with some light moments of humor, give the song different levels and variety. Austin Blake, the actor behind the role of Cinderella’s Prince, adds a gusto and showiness to his physicality that perfectly fit his character, and his vocal skill is evident in the song “Agony.” Megan Begley, or Little Red Riding Hood, also exhibits impressive characterization skills through her adoption of a high-pitched voice and light, swinging steps.

Despite sound malfunctions, the full magic of the production could not be fully realized without the technical elements. The costumes are of professional quality, especially those of the two princes. Their shiny, gold clothes perfectly reflect their dazzling personalities. Lighting also contributes to the intensity of the show. The Wolf’s haunting solo “Hello, Little Girl” is accompanied by a slow shift to deep red light that emphasizes the song’s dark, creepy tone.

With wickedly wonderful technical elements, and magically marvelous performances, Coral Glades High school’s cast and crew of “Into the Woods” successfully brings back childhood stories while having the maturity to tell these stories in their true and darkest form. A great journey awaits those who step into this far off kingdom and experience a moment in the woods.

*** *** ***

By Sydnie Rathe of American Heritage School

A boy, a cow, a maiden, a baker, his wife, a little girl, a witch, a wolf, a giant and plot twists in nearly every scene kept the audience on their toes in Coral Glades High school’s production of “Into the Woods”.

Premiering on Broadway in 1987, Into the Woods was originally crafted with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by James Lapine. It was written as a combination of fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm into several overlapping plot lines that all eventually end up intertwining to form a singular story. Including famous characters such as Cinderella, Little Red Ridinghood, and Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk, the show is dark and highly demanding of stamina and skill.

The ultimate highlight of the show was the choice of casting the Witch (Eli Flynn) as a male actor. This led to an impressive display of Flynn’s pliability as an actor and added  a new air of levity to the dramatic role. Additionally, the Baker (Elijah Miller) remained engaged and entertaining throughout the length of the production. The Baker’s Wife (Sophia Young) truly radiated, gracefully carrying the show with her refined vocal talent and lively portrayal of the character. Alongside her, Cinderella (Haley Amann) and Little Red Ridinghood (Megan Begley) assisted in driving the show with their superior vocals.

The ensemble tackled the daunting task of maintaining energy and life through the duration of this challenging show with spirit and skill. For the most part, they remained engaged and physically aware. Despite an occasional disagreement in pitch, the cast handled this incredibly difficult music with maturity and poise. At times, however, the work of the cast became muddled and the plot convoluted by an imbalance in sound between the performers and the orchestra.

Other than issues with audibility, the technical aspects brought an inventive quality to the nature of the show. Down to the very details such as making Cinderella’s birds fly, props, executed by Alexa Rae Libert, were creative and practical. Given that the show was performed in a foreign venue, the students had very minimal time to adapt their work to the space. Additionally, when they began work on the actual stage, the majority of the lights were not functioning properly. Even so, they worked quickly and efficiently to solve the problem, and ultimately the lights provided dynamic mood shifts that consistently aided the show.

Across the board, Coral Glades High School faced difficulty with some minor execution details in their production of “Into The Woods”, but they transcended all obstacles and successfully shared the message that sometimes a happy ending isn’t always the best one.

*** *** ***

By Morgan Wolfe of JP Taravella High School

Our standard fairy tales generally ends with “and they lived happily ever after.” But what happened after the last page of the book? That’s the central story being explored in Coral Glades High School’s production of “Into The Woods.”

“Into The Woods, ” written by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, premiered in 1986 and moved to The Great White Way in 1987. Earning numerous Tony Award nominations, including best musical, and won three medallions that night. Twisting together well-known and lesser known stories from the Brothers Grimm , Sondheim and Lapine take the audience on a strange, dark journey that turns everyone’s favorite stories on their head.

The story centers around the Baker (Elijah Miller) and his wife (Sophia Young), who are childless and desperately want a baby. Young’s strong, clear vocals created some of the show’s most poignant scenes, and she and Miller developed a believable relationship with many organic moments. The  couple learns that they can’t have a child because a Witch has cast a spell on the Baker’s family. When the Witch boasts about the spell in the opening number, the show’s main plot is set into motion. In Coral Glades’ production, this was truly a show-stopping moment since they made the bold decision to cast a male in the part. Eli Flynn commanded the stage beautifully, and truly used his gender to help him, with his vocal inflections and physical transformation.

Portraying the classic Disney princess Cinderella was Haley Amann. Amann’s comedic timing came through often, especially when she’s caught in Prince Charming’s trap in the solo “On the Steps of the Palace.” Megan Begley, depicting the sassy-yet-sweet Little Red Riding Hood, deserves extra praise for her clear projection in a production that didn’t feature individual microphones.

While Act One sets up much of the traditional stories and the cast doesn’t interact often, the ensemble feel of the piece really comes through in Act Two when a giant, accidentally allowed into the realm by Jack and his beanstalk, attacks. The characters from all of the fables must work together to find a way to defeat this common enemy, and the cast worked well off of each other as they merged their stories.

Technically, this show had a very minimalistic and creative set that was used to its full extent. Coral Glades incorporated book covers into much of their set, which was a unique twist to this often-told story. Overhead and floor microphones could not make up for the missing headsets, and some of the dialogue didn’t reach the rear of the theater.

Be careful what you wish for is the central theme of “Into the Woods,” which highlights the repercussions of the characters’ selfish acts that take place in the original fairy tales. But audiences left wishing they could see this show over and over again. By embracing unique decisions, such as a male Witch,Coral Glades once again put a new twist on these fairy tales.

*** *** ***

By Carmen Horn of North Broward Preparatory School

Once upon a time “full of magic, royalty, deals, deceit, and love, Coral Glades” “Into The Woods” was truly a fairytale experience.

Seamlessly weaving together many classic tales, Stephen Sondheim and James Lupine’s “Into The Woods” follows the main story of a baker and his wife who desperately desire a child. They learn that their misfortune is due to a curse placed on their house by the witch next door. They go “into the woods” order to undo the curse. Along the way, they meet Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack (of “and the bean stock” fame), and Rapunzel, all of whom are trying to realize dreams of their own.

Leading the show was Eli Flynn as the Witch. Originally written for a female actor, the witch is an extremely difficult role, and Flynn rose to the challenge. With powerful vocals and a wide range of expression, Flynn managed to create an interesting and strong character. In the role of the Baker’s Wife was Sophia Young, who adeptly balanced the character’s hidden desires for a fantasy life with her maturity. She stayed consistent and engaged throughout the production, and gave a wonderful vocal performance, especially in her number “Moment in the Woods”.

Hayley Amann approached the role of Cinderella with sweetness and earnestness. Her voice was lovely, and she carried her portions of the production well. Some of the comedic flair of the show was provided by Megan Begley as Little Red Riding Hood. She incorporated the character’s youth convincingly, and had some humorous interactions with the Baker, Jack, and, of course, the Big Bad Wolf. One particularly standout performance was that of Milky White, played by Faith Donaldson. Through reaction, expression, and physicality, she managed to make an impression without speaking a single word.

The cast as a whole worked well together, and had a unity that shone through in the large ensemble numbers that carry the show, particularly the finale. They were supported by a student orchestra, who played Sondheim’s intricate compositions sufficiently. Even though there were a few sound issues, the orchestra and ensemble complemented each other nicely.

Costumes, lighting, and set design were other elements of the production that were student done, and they all helped enhance the production. The sets helped give the production the storybook feeling it requires, and the costumes helped make the characters unique and distinctive. The lighting had a few shortcomings, but considering the difficulty of the process, the crew did a good job.

Coral Glades’ production of Into The Woods  showed that “no one is alone” when it comes to putting on a production.

*** *** ***

Reviews of Cabaret at North Broward Preparatory School on Friday, 10/21/2016.

By Sam Segreto of Archbishop McCarthy High School

Table four is calling table nine! Everyone, leave your troubles outside and make your way on down to the fabulous KitKat Klub! In there life is beautiful. It’s filled with marvelous actors, dancers, and singers! Tomorrow (and every day after) certainly belongs to the actors and actresses of Cabaret at North Broward Preparatory School!

Though written in 1966, this sultry musical takes place in 1930’s Germany, just as the Nazi party is rising to power under Adolf Hitler. The main sequence of events revolves around the relationship of American Novelist, Clifford Bradshaw, and British performer, Sally Bowles, in the seedy nightclub known as, the KitKat Klub.

Whether it was singing, acting, tapping, kick-lining, or even just observing, the cast’s dynamic energy carried the show from opening curtain to the final closing curtain. Their overall dedication to their characters and their assigned accents was enough to make anyone believe that we somehow transported to the German night club from the comfort of our seats.

Strutting onto the stage, Evan Laufman shined brighter than the lights of the Cabaret in his role as the Emcee. Just as a puppet master controls his subjects, Laufman had complete control over the show, watching one by one the deterioration of each character with a certain omniscient eeriness that could give anyone the chills. Quinn DeVita in the role of the bibulous, cigarette stained, Sally Bowles, gave such a standout performance that you could tell your mama about it. With songs such as “Don’t Tell Mama” and “Cabaret,” DeVita proved her range of an actress, able to go from sultry to tear-jerking in a matter of acts.

With a sweet falsetto and down-to-earth personality, Samuel Kelly-Cohen provided the perfect foil to the rest of the eccentric characters in his role of Clifford Bradshaw. He specifically anchored the performance with his transformation from his optimistic innocence to one of the more responsible ones in the show. Likewise, Danielle Ganz in her role of Fraulein Schneider added a soothing aura to the otherwise dramatic piece. Her presence was that of a comfortable blanket that a loving grandmother would place over a sleeping child.

With smoke subtly rolling off the stage and spotlights illuminating every single character movement and dance number, the special effects added to the underlying eerie atmosphere of Cabaret. Additionally, the live orchestra contributed to the Cabaret-like ambiance that surrounded the performance, making the show even more tangible for the audience.

Life, though it may not exactly be a Cabaret, certainly was “Perfectly Marvelous” for the night at North Broward Preparatory School’s performance of Cabaret. The cast’s commitment, energy, and passion, shown with the lights of the stage and the stars over Berlin.

*** *** ***

By Allie Posner of Boca Raton High School

Cabaret: a risque Berlin nightclub scene turned intense social commentary was nothing short of chilling. With music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb, Cabaret is based on a book written by Christopher Isherwood. It takes place during Germany’s turn of power to the Nazi party and clearly shows the transition from the “never ending party” that was Berlin before Hitler, to the robot-like society that it turned into when everyone began to blindly follow Hitler.  For a high school, topics such as prostitution and the Nazi revolution are not easily covered but North Broward Preparatory School did a great job with the dark content. Sally Bowles and Clifford Bradshaw’s heart wrenching side story alongside the tragic end to Fraulein Schneider and Herr Schultz’s romance tied the night club into the sad reality that was Germany at the time.

With sharp choreography and technical elements that worked in harmony with the actors North Broward Preparatory School had many strong points. With several extremely strong leads and an encapsulating ensemble of Kit Kat Klub girls each piece of symbolism was noticeable and eye opening to another piece of the puzzle that pieced together the final message.

While all of the leads helped bring this dark story to life in such a way a high school isn’t normally capable of, their strong point was their vocals.  The Master of Ceremonies (Emcee) played by Evan Laufman and Sally Bowles played by Quinn DeVita kept consistent accents throughout the show while maintaining an extremely strong tones of voice. Clifford Bradshaw played by Samuel Kelly-Cohen was extremely fun to watch and when the show shifted to become darker he became the believable American hero of the story.

If you thought the leads of this show were strong performers wait until you see the lineup of supporting principals. Fraulein Schneider played by Danielle Ganz and Herr Schultz played by Eitan Pessah played believable elderly characters with an extremely strong stage connection. Even with some lack of energy that caused a few minor lulls in the show the Kit Kat Klub girls were enjoyable to watch from the moment they stepped out onto stage.

The fluidity and movement on stage could not have been possible without the set design which was not only easy on the eyes but worked extremely well with the actors to create several levels to the show. While scene changes could have been smoother by keeping members of the tech crew out of the light and preventing them from crossing paths with actors during a scene made it hard to be completely immersed in the show. The costumes that Mcee would wear had him either stick out like a sore thumb on stage or blend in completely which was intended by the writer and was pulled off very nicely.

North Broward Preparatory School worked well with the space they had and overcame minor issues without being phased. Overall this new perspective of the history of Germany that we have heard about many times was beautifully portrayed with symbolism in the colors chosen for the costumes and the elaborate set choices. Cabaret balanced risque dancing with a meaningful message

*** *** ***

By Valen -Marie Santos of American Heritage School

A spotlight suddenly flashes on a curtain. Slowly, a hand creeps out from behind the curtain, luring the audience towards a “perfectly marvelous” experience. The music plays and, soon, the stage is filled with 1920s choreography, a vibrant nightclub setting, and brilliant costumes. North Broward Preparatory School’s “Cabaret” has just begun.

Set during the rise of the Nazi regime, with music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and book by Joe Masteroff, “Cabaret” requires not only high-level musical and acting ability, but also a clear understanding of mature historical and sexual topics. The story follows the romance of nightclub entertainer Sally Bowles and American novelist Clifford Bradshaw, and the people closest to their lives, such as German smuggler and eventual Nazi Ernst Ludwig, and landlord Fräulein Schneider. Throughout the entire show, the Emcee and owner if the Kit Kat Klub guides the audience through the experience. As the story unfolds, the presence of the Nazi Party rises. Although character motivation was lost at times, North Broward Preparatory School’s cast and crew brilliantly captured the life and sexuality of the show, while tackling incredibly dark and mature topics.

Quinn DeVita clearly and consistently portrays Sally Bowles’s sexual qualities and over-the-top personality. Although she provides many comedic moments throughout the show, she delivers a dramatic and gripping performance of her solo “Cabaret” at the end of the production, naturally showing Sally’s crumbling apart. Playing the good-hearted Fräulein Schneider, Danielle Ganz exhibits great acting skills with organic movements and reactions. Her slow pace and high, accented voice contribute to the age and charm of the character. Samuel Kelly-Cohen, playing the main character Clifford Bradshaw, shows, much like DeVita, a smooth transformation as the show slowly darkens.

The ensemble must also be commended for their constant life and presence on stage. Rarely does their dancing fall out of synchronization, and when it does, the actors brilliantly work out of it and onward. Julia Hopper stands out among the ensemble, with energetic dancing and constant engagement. Tommi Rose’s beautiful and seemingly effortless singing during small solos such as the “Telephone Song” is memorable as well.

The performance aspects of “Cabaret” gave the production honesty and a professional quality, but the technical aspects tied reality and symbolism together to establish the dark, underlying theme of the show. Slowly, as the show progresses and addresses more serious topics, the Emcee reveals the “Imperial Eagle” piece by piece. As well, every actor’s makeup added to the complexity of their characters, such as Fräulein Schneider’s old-age makeup, and the darkness around Sally Bowles’s eyes.

At the beginning the show, the Emcee asks,  “Where are your troubles? Forgotten?” To answer this question: yes. From the Emcee’s luring hand to the final bang of the imprisoning gates that surround him, the production offers a completely mesmerizing performance. The cast and crew of North Broward Preparatory School’s “Cabaret” show not only a high level of talent, but also a maturity and professionalism rarely seen in high school productions

*** *** ***

By Shea Simpson of Archbishop McCarthy High School

Willkommen! Bienvenue! Welcome! Pour yourself a glass of gin, sit back, relax, and  enjoy North Broward Prep’s rendition of the provocative hit-classic “Cabaret,” where all your troubles can be abandoned and forgotten!

Taking place in Berlin’s lewd and lascivious Kit Kat Klub, “Cabaret” delves into the life of Clifford Bradshaw, a struggling 1930’s American author, who is scouring the world for inspiration for his novel. Upon wandering into the nightclub, Bradshaw is inundated by a variety of vivacious characters, from the gender-bending Emcee narrating the show to the scandalous Kit Kit Girls. Bradshaw also comes across Sally Bowles, the intoxicating lounge singer, searching for her way in the world. A relationship blossoms between Bowles and Bradshaw, ultimately ending in heartbreak and regret. As time progresses, the once colorful and vibrant atmosphere found in the streets of Berlin turns grim and violent, as the Nazi party rises to power and turns everyone’s lives upside down.

The show’s skillful dance combinations were just one aspect that significantly contributed to its success. With their swift movements and exaggerated gestures, the Kit Kat Girls took center stage, captivating audience members in numbers such as “Don’t Tell Mama” and “The Money Song.” The intricate costumes and set were invaluable to the aesthetics of the production. Every stitch of lace and fringe on each actor accurately fit the era, along with the bright vaudeville-like lights that dotted the stage.

Leading the show with fervent passion was Evan Laufman, portraying the elusive Emcee. Sporting a thick German accent and salacious dance moves, Laufman had audience members wrapped around his finger and deserves endless commendation for his stellar interpretation. Also giving an enthralling rendition of the infamous Sally Bowles was Quinn DeVita. Her acting was refreshing, raw and heartfelt. In the title song “Cabaret,” DeVita took the audience’s breath away with her powerful voice and over-eccentric personality.

Samuel Kelly-Cohen, playing the role of Clifford Bradshaw, gave an emotional performance, exhibiting his character’s journey through this particular stage of his life. Cohen delivered each line with utmost sincerity, never losing sight of his character’s optimistic beliefs and desires. Danielle Ganz, playing the simplistic Fräulein Schneider, impressed audience members with her honest acting style and unfaltering sense of the sympathetic Fräulein. Successfully maintaining a German accent while singing “So What”, Ganz was able to showcase her impressive vocal style, additionally fulfilling the character-driven movements of an older woman.

So, go ahead and tell your mama, North Broward Prep’s performance was truly something marvelous. In a bright setting turned ominous, the actors executed a stunning show, leaving audience members saying anything but “So What?”

*** *** ***

by Naveen Sharma of Saint Andrews School

The story of a cabaret parlor, the love plot of an American writer, and the Nazis coming to power, what else can a musical contain. “Cabaret”, originally on Broadway in 1966, shed some light on the political struggle, and the struggle of many characters, in Berlin during Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. The characters, music, and choreography, all relating in some way to the struggle of mankind, and the desires that plague them, are meticulously chosen to represent either a victim or a survivor of the horrors that faced Germany during that time. It is the story of a crazy, to say the least, love connection between an American author and a British cabaret singer, another love connection between a German woman and a German Jewish man, and a third love connection between a Master of Ceremonies and his Cabaret parlor.

From exceptional choreographed dances, to beautifully sung pieces of music; North Broward Preparatory School created an environment that welcomed the idea of the cabaret. The constant eerie tone of the musical, could lead any to believe in the power of a stage. Some characters who used the stage to create their tone and purpose, were the Master of Ceremonies, played by Evan Laufman, and Fraulein Schneider, played by Danielle Ganz.

The Emcee’s (Evan Laufman) stage presence throughout the show was, to say the least, magnificent. His comedic timing, his portrayal of his songs, and his acting in general, was wonderful, specifically in the piece “Willkommen”. This song represents the start of the show, the most important part the part of the show that must excite audiences, but leave them wanting more. It creates a base, or a first impression, and this was impeccably presented. His voice, and acting powered through the song, while keeping his pristine accent throughout the song, and even the show. He seemed to be constantly on stage, showing a great deal of patience, and his powerful removing of the sheets kept the audience wondering, what was really behind the sheets.

Fräulein Schneider (Danielle Ganz), seemed to know exactly what to do in all of her acting situations. Her personality reflected the welcoming nature of Fraulein Schneider, and her acting choices in difficult situations, led the audience to truly believe her in her statements, and actions. During her songs, “So What?” and “It Couldn’t Please Me More”, Ganz portrayed the comedic side of Fräulein Schneider very well. She stayed in character, and kept her accent up, as well as made her songs even funnier than they already were.

Another commendation must be given to the remarkable “Kit Kat Klub Girls” (Julia Hopper, Tommi Rose, Maya Sachs, Hope Clark, Juliana McCabe, Madeline Finkelman) for their alluring dancing and powerful acting, and singing. Overall, North Broward Preparatory School’s production of “Cabaret” was very good, not letting the occasional feedback hurt the show in any shape or form.

*** *** ***

Reviews of  Godspell at American Heritage School on Saturday, 10/08/2016

By Curtis Dodgen of South Plantation High School

At American Heritage’s production of “Godspell”, audiences were brought into an interactive world involving faith, betrayal, and acceptance. Having an energy-filled and fun performance, Heritage was able to display thoughtful Biblical messages, while also including the audience in the story.

Originally a master’s thesis project, “Godspell” turned into a hit musical, first appearing on Broadway in 1976. The show follows Jesus Christ and his disciples, and depicts parables based off the Gospels of Matthew. Throughout the show, Jesus uses his disciples as storytellers, and after guiding them through the do’s and don’ts of Christianity, Jesus is ultimately betrayed by his disciple, Judas.

The performance was full of non-stop stage movement, the actors always finding a way to create a new image from parable to parable. Throughout the show, the actors would often break the fourth wall, giving the audience a chance to both interact and participate in the storytelling. Also, the energy given off by the actors helped drive the show in an engaging and fun way, which included implementing current events into dialogue as a way to help the audience relate more to the stories. With beautiful harmonies, the story was driven with its uplifting and moving musical numbers. The setting of the black box theater was helpful by providing a more intimate space, which allowed for both the actors and the audience to experience the show in a different way.

The show centers on Jesus Christ (Jacob Greene) who warmly and welcomely portrayed the religious icon. During “Finale”, Greene was able to successfully show the extent of his acting abilities through his emotional reach during his death scene. He was accompanied by Dylan Erdelyi who played both John the Baptist and Judas Iscariot, who was able to hold his own in the musical numbers he was featured in.

The ensemble in this production was able to cohesively work together, while also being able to stand out at the right time. Their harmonies were strong throughout the entire performance and helped drive the story in a good direction.

The technical aspects of the show helped the story out with an array of props, a multi-dimensional set, and mood-altering lighting. For many scenes that involved the “good vs evil” such as “Finale”, the use of white and red lighting helped to really show a contrast in emotion.

“Godspell” is a very unique show, that can be very confusing to those who aren’t quite religious. However, American Heritage was able to tastefully retell the story of Jesus and his disciples, all while keeping their audience fully engaged and interested through their comedic presence and will certainly leave people praying for more!

*** *** ***

By Courtney Jeffers of Western High School

Comedy and Gospel are not two words commonly seen in the same sentence, but American Heritage School’s performance of Godspell has accomplished just that, and more. From the moment the doors open to a quaint black box theatre, the audience is enveloped into the world of colorful characters and emotional reciprocation.

Originally debuting on Broadway in 1971, Godspell is a musical that was both conceived and directed by John- Michael Tebelak. The story portrays parables of the gospel according to St. Matthew through upbeat musical numbers and comedic storytelling along with a few hysterical pop culture references. The stories are told and acted out by Jesus’ modern day, relatable, New Yorker disciples, who once strangers, form family-like bonds throughout the show.

The diverse and talented ensemble cast of American Heritage School’s production had high energy throughout the performance. The cast of 16 pulled off amazing harmonies and dance numbers that allowed room for characters to add their own style. Each character held their own and contributed a special personality to the ensemble, without taking away from other characters.

Jacob Greene portrays Jesus with a certain lovable charm. He shows kindness and forgiveness and he forms a special bond with each of his disciples as evident to the audience as the show progresses. When given the challenge of including a young audience member into the performance, his versatility was revealed.

The disciples also tackled a variety of challenges, including pantomime, which was well executed by Brandon Dawson and Frederick Bredemeyer. Another standout performance was achieved by Hannah Ellowitz in her solo “Bless the Lord”, which was a definite crowd pleaser. Although some disciples did not stand out on their own, they contributed to the ensemble as a whole.

The lighting, while it occasionally seized to illuminate important characters of a scene, it contributed to the mood of the story by using colors of red in times of betrayal. The makeup as designed by JoAnn Battat and Sofia Osio was done in great detail that the tattoos could still be seen in the harsh as well as the dim lighting. The props were also creatively and comedically used; a wooden meter stick that was broken in half to represent the division of land or beaded necklaces to represent wealth.

Infectious, engaging, and emotional, American Heritage School’s production of Godspell took the stage with dedicated characters and without a dull moment.

*** *** ***

By Taylor Fish of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High

Come sing about love with American Heritage’s spirited cast of “Godspell,” a group that truly comes bearing all good gifts!

Originally John-Michael Tebelak’s thesis project at Carnegie Mellon University, “Godspell” ascended to an Off-Broadway street of New York in 1971 with the addition of hymnal music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. The 2011 Broadway revival modernized the renowned gospel-rock musical, incorporating new elements of directing opportunities for contemporary contributions. Based on the teachings of the Book of Matthew, this series of innovative humorous parables and the betrayal of Judas captures the importance of building a communal world of neighborly love, support, and tolerance.

American Heritage’s production anchored itself in the intimacy of its all-encompassing setting. Thriving off of the density of their black box theater, the company sustained a tangible liveliness while establishing continuous affectionate relationships between the ensemble’s neighborhood members. Incorporation of aisle entrances and endearing audience interactions deepened the sense of warmth in this community that permeated through the fully immersed room.

Jacob Greene personified unending humility and compassion through his altruistic portrayal of Jesus, encapsulating the morals of his teachings with the kindness in his smile and the gentleness of his voice. Through his constant benevolent engagement with his followers and the participating members of the crowd, Greene sustained an alluring presence and brought authenticity to the role, particularly recognizable in his melancholy reassurance of a restored future for man in his tender deliverance of “Beautiful City.”

While each disciple of Jesus expressed him or herself with admirably individualistic characterizations, the spunk and geniality of Hannah Ellowitz alone generated an exuberance in this production that constituted a driving force of its sharp pacing and humorous input. Ellowitz’s relentless emotional commitment to the performance worked in tandem with her seemingly endless vocal range that she revealed as the company manifested the vibrant gospel spirit of “Bless the Lord.” Collectively, the cast demonstrated an unthinkable aptitude for musicality, conveying their control of vocal dynamics through the complexity of the acapella “Tower of Babble.”

The production’s technical aspects, though simple in design, fostered the stark contrasts in atmospheric moods, aligning moments of spiritual darkness with a dim gloom washing over the community. Although a few areas sparse in lighting occasionally posed an issue of focus on the speaker, the ambiance formed by the hues of pale blue to piercing white intensified the emotional delivery of the cast. Additionally, the rotating city set contributed heavily to the aura of the setting, strengthening the intimacy between the performers and the audience when the disciples return to the outside street, embracing with their faith in the future.

From their ceaseless energy to their unimaginable harmonization, American Heritage’s cast and crew of “Godspell” will undoubtedly leave you feeling blessed for days to come.

*** *** ***

By Sheridan Lasher of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High

“Prepare Ye” for an engaging performance that will lead you through the life of Jesus and his loyal disciples in American Heritage’s brilliant performance of “Godspell”.

With music by Stephen Schwartz and book by John-Michael Tebelak, “Godspell” follows the teachings of Jesus Christ to his disciples through humorous parables about Jesus’s lessons, as a neighborhood of distinct individuals comes together to convey the message of building a strong community. The musical was created in 1970 as Tebelak’s thesis project at Carnegie Mellon University and originally appeared on Broadway in 1976 before the modernized revival hit the stage in 2011.

Jacob Greene was perfect as the zealous, yet moving character of Jesus. His solo, “Beautiful City,” revealed his developed vocals and emotional artistry enhancing his portrayal of the influential and captivating young messiah. Hannah Ellowitz stood out from the company for her powerful voice and consistently expressive facials in the song “Bless the Lord,” engaging the audience and allowing everyone to feel like they were a part of the story. Elliot Mahon also made a lasting impression on the audience with his humorous voice-overs and well-controlled vocals in “Light of the World.”

The ensemble of this production truly carried the show, demonstrating their true understanding of the context in which the production takes place while still adding a modern twist to captivate the audience. Their harmonies were practically flawless and their dancing portrayed each individual’s personality. Though some of the company lacked focus, most of the disciples created strong emotional connections with each other and expressed a diverse group of eccentric characters.

The use of a black box theater created an intimate experience that otherwise would not have been expressed on a large-scale stage. Despite a few instances of darkness at important points in the story, all technical aspects of the show ran efficiently, and the set transitions were practically seamless. The wide array of props that were utilized throughout the performance enhanced the characters’ ability to portray the storytelling aspect of the plot.

The story of “Godspell” can be complicated to understand, but with modern innuendos and entertaining skits, American Heritage was able to turn this somewhat perplexing script into a humorous and inspiring story for all.

*** *** ***

By Shea Simpson of Archbishop McCarthy High School

Bless the Lord and prepare thyself, for American Heritage undoubtedly brought down the Tower of Babble with their captivating production of ‘Godspell!’

With music by Stephen Schwartz and a book by John-Michael Tebelak, ‘Godspell’ was based off of a thesis construed by Tebelak in 1970 at Carnegie Melon University.  The show soon evolved into a full length musical and first opened off Broadway in early 1971. Numerous revivals followed, with its Broadway debut occurring in June of 1973. Narrated and performed by Jesus Christ and his loyal disciples, ‘Godspell’ expresses the parables according to the book of Matthew through powerful harmonies and dance techniques. Audience members witness key moments of Jesus’ humanly life, starting with his baptism and ultimately ending with Judas’ betrayal, leading to the heart wrenching crucifixion of Jesus.

Despite minor sound issues, the show’s technical features were nearly flawless. Each light cue had significance, captivating different emotional responses, from the sharp contrast of deep red light accompanying Jesus’ death, to the bright spotlight that shone on Jesus during his last earthly moments. Every detail served a meaningful purpose in the show’s execution, from each red flower worn by the disciples to the bread and wine distributed to represent the Last Supper. Though Heritage’s production was produced with a modern twist, they executed the ambitious show with ease and finesse.

Portraying a role as demanding and well known as Jesus can sometimes seem a daunting task for an actor. For Jacob Greene, this most definitely was not the case. When Greene first entered the stage, his authoritative yet peaceful aura swept across the room, almost as if blessing the audience with his presence. His heartrending beautiful performance in the “Finale” brought onlookers to tears. Supporting the show alongside Greene was Dylan Erdelyi, playing both the parts of John the Baptist and Judas the betrayer. Erdelyi gave an emotional performance, showcasing Judas’ inner sorrow and regret for his grievous actions through expressive facial transformations and powerful body movement.

In any ensemble-based musical, a prominent compatibility between actors is detrimental to the show’s success. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the connection between the actors of ‘Godspell’ was incredibly strong and intimate. Each member of the show was given their moment to shine and when in the background, each actor put forth tremendous energy into the show. They worked as one cohesive unit and blended marvelously well with one another in show stopping numbers such as “Day by Day” and “We Beseech Thee.” Two notable ensemble members were powerhouses, Hannah Ellowitz and Jordyn Allen, whose voices shook the blackbox theater with “Bless the Lord” and “Learn Your Lessons Well,” respectively. Their passion helped bring forth an impactful show to the audience.

The cast of ‘Godspell’ succeeded in helping the audience “learn their lessons well” with their captivating and thought provoking performance, delivering this challenging piece of theatre in anything but a cacophonous manner!

*** *** ***

Reviews of The Foreverglades at Somerset Academy Arts Conservatory on Friday, 10/14/2016

By Daniel Agmon of JP Taravella High School

Take some hostile aliens, merciful alligators, a teenage heroine, combine with ominous music and a good dose of fog, and the result is a rare work of science fiction on stage. The curtains opened slowly onto the world premier of the innovative and revolutionary play “The Foreverglades”. Produced by Somerset Academy Arts Conservatory, “The Foreverglades” was quite simply out of this world.

Written, directed, and produced by Tyler Grimes, “The Foreverglades” is based off several science fiction classics, most notably “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and “Invasion From Mars”. Grimes began to write the play in 2012 when he was given the assignment at New York University to adapt a science fiction film for the stage. “The Foreverglades”, tells the story of Mitzi Carmichael, her friends, and her father Jerry during the midst of an alien invasion. This play, told from different perspectives, conveys messages of bravery and religious ideals, and raises the controversial question “What if?”

Clara Pulido starred as Mitzi Carmichael with admirable believability and embodied the persona of a thirteen year-old girl superbly. Her chemistry with her quirky best friend, Copper Jones, depicted by Gabriel Celik, was incredibly realistic. Celik exhibited exquisite comedic timing incessantly pretending he had a girlfriend who lived in Connecticut, and portrayed outstanding contrast in characters when his body was being controlled by the aliens.

Gianna Milici played the idiosyncratic, eccentric Carly Ghidorzi with hilarious facial expressions, never missing a chance in the well-written comedic banter and providing light relief in the darkest parts of the play. The shadowy Pastor Centauri, portrayed by Jessica Gomez, had a fierce stage presence, delivering remarkable monologues concerning the end of the world, and exhibited a beautiful dynamic in the third act as a more angelic figure.

The ensemble, a posse of girls playing the same army ranger, was very effective, giving off a vivid urgency and physicality. The cast had a magnificent connection with the script and skillfully expressed the playwright’s message. A few actors could have improved their diction, however the cast should be praised for depicting this new work with such finesse.

Technically, the sound design was marvelous, incorporating the highlights of science fiction phenomena. The transition music was awe-inspiring making the long scene changes seamless. Lighting, designed by Mandy Figueroa and company, also helped set the mood, with deep shades of rouge highlighting the more intense scenes. Make-up designed by Valeria Moran was fabulous, especially when depicting a very lifelike injury to one of the characters after an alien attack. Also the original music composed by Kiara Negroni-Martinez significantly complemented the battle of Alligator Alley.

Providing a new outlook on the social interaction between our human nature and foreign species from other worlds, Somerset Academy Arts Conservatory’s production of “The Foreverglades” was quite simply “out of this world”.

*** *** ***

By Eve Cohen of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High

Set your sights to the sky for UFOs in the swamps of the Florida Everglades, because big changes are about to crash land on the planet we’ve always known. Prepare for Somerset Arts Conservatory to abduct you into its out-of-this-world production of “The Foreverglades.”

“The Foreverglades,” written and directed by Tyler Grimes, is a comedic drama, with deep roots in the world of mysterious science fiction, that deals with friendship, betrayal, trust, and preservation. The play follows the story of 13-year-old misfit Mitzi Carmichael and the events leading up to the destruction of her beloved home, the Florida Everglades.

Struggling to stay self sufficient after her mother passed, the underrated outcast Mitzi Carmichael, portrayed by Clara Pulido, remained persistent in her determination to uncover the Everglades invaders. Pulido captivated the audience with her honest and emotional moments, particularly those reflecting on her mother’s death. She kept her intensity level high throughout most of the performance and stayed committed to her character. Mitzi’s zany go-to-guy, Copper Jones, depicted by Gabriel Celik, added to the enjoyment and understanding of the show with his humorous and believable acting.

Mitzi’s best friend, Carly, played by Gianna Milici, added an entirely new element to the performance with her priceless humor and childish sarcasm that filled the audience with laughter. She remained consistently engaged in her role and demonstrated impeccable comedic timing. Her intriguing facial expressions made for an exciting and eccentric character, especially in her intense scenes embodying a possessive spirit, that clearly showcased her versatile acting abilities.

The ensemble of soldiers in the second act of the play were quite helpful in understanding missing elements of the story. All members were extremely coordinated and connected. Additions such as the playing of the guitar throughout the act was an original touch that added a complimentary tone to the somber mood of their journey.

All technical aspects of the show ran smoothly. Though the blackouts were rather bright and occasionally lengthy, the transitions were efficient and the vivid lighting distinguished where the heightened areas of the show occurred. The sound cues and music were timed perfectly and properly fit the feeling of the show. The set was relatively simple, yet functional, and suited the stage well. The makeup application was complex, giving the show a more realistic essence. The intricacies of the work were displayed with a particular prominence in areas such as Copper’s scar, the gator monsters, and Mitzi’s stitched up mother.

Overall, Somerset did a commendable job in adding modern references and comedic adaptations to make its show easier to follow. The underlying tone left a chill of suspense upon the audience that helped create the mystery that caused our juvenile heroes so much strife. The deep importance of love and conservation were beautifully illustrated in Somerset Arts Conservatory’s production of “The Foreverglades”.

*** *** ***

By Savannah Bergeron of Archbishop McCarthy High School
The Great Barrier Reef is dead. Over 80% of the world’s natural forests have been cut down. Biodiversity has decreased so much that the Earth may be facing its 6th mass extinction. Humans have brought Earth “to the brink of self-destruction.” At this point, even an alien invasion might be more merciful than this continued anthropogenic destruction.

This is the main premise of The Foreverglades, a new play written by Tyler Grimes and performed by Somerset Academy Arts Conservatory. The play shows Earth’s last days as aliens invade and is from the point of view of a young girl named Mitzi, who loves to tell stories to her friends Copper and Carly and lives in the Everglades.

Just as “there are no other Everglades in the entire world,” there are also no other productions quite like the Foreverglades. Although the set was minimalistic, the lighting and sound beautifully conveyed both the themes and the mood. Additionally, the stage crew kept the show running smoothly through its numerous scene changes. As this was an original production, the actors had to develop their characters without previous references, creating a great challenge that was tackled well. As a whole, the entire cast was energetic and expressive, even though sometimes diction was lost during dramatic monologues and certain actors did not fully develop their characters.

Clara Pulido, who played Mitzi, solidly portrayed the passionate 13-year-old and especially developed her character in the poignant last scenes. Pulido also shared excellent chemistry with Gabriel Celik as Copper and Gianna Milici as Carly. Both Celik and Milici had sharp comedic timing and were able to convey a wide range of emotions, from dramatic death scenes and solemn reflection to hilarious facial expressions and humorous inflections.

Although the first and third acts of the Foreverglades focused on the main trio, the second act shifted to a specific battle told through a posthumous monologue of a girl who fought and died defending Earth. Seven different actresses played this character at the same time. Both staged and directed by students, the only set pieces in this act were seven chairs, which were used for everything from a secret government weapon to bunks to a truck.

The lighting and the sound were designed exceptionally well. Although the sound could overpower the actors at times, the use of the Stranger Things soundtrack was fitting and worked well with the troupes present. The stage was bathed in blue-green lights, but whenever aliens or anything ominous occurred, the soft blue turned to a harsh red. The lighting filled in the gaps the set left, evoking the spirit of the production and the Everglades itself.

Although the concept of aliens invading may seem as distant as the stars, The Foreverglades brought this tragedy to life in a heart-felt and sincere way.

*** *** ***

By Dylan Redshaw of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High

“Great stories are about the journey, not the ending.” Mitzi’s journey, filled with loyal friendships, a distant father, and an unexpected alien abduction, made for a superb performance by the Somerset Academy Arts Conservatory.

“The Foreverglades”, an original piece written by Tyler Grimes, made its premiere this past weekend at the Sunrise Civic Center. The show revolves around a young girl named Mitzi, living in the murky Florida Everglades, who stumbles upon an illuminating blue moon rock that lures an unknown force to planet Earth. When countries gradually begin to vanish and Mitzi’s close friend Carly is suddenly possessed, Mitzi realizes she has to stand up to the peculiar, alien obscurities and save the world from its annihilation.

The independent and amiable, 13-year-old girl, Mitzi Carmichael, was portrayed by Clara Pulido with a strong charisma and constant energy. Pulido demonstrated a cogent understanding of her character and a refined growth between Act One and Three that reflected her character’s course in an amusing way. Gabriel Celik played his role of Copper Jones, Mitzi’s witty friend and very secret crush, admirably. With their charming chemistry, Pulido and Celik illustrated the true depth of their loving relationship. Both actors did a remarkable job of portraying the ages of their juvenile characters.

Giana Milici, playing the role of Mitzi’s quirky, big-hearted buddy, Carly Ghidorzi, exuded an air of confidence while onstage with her delightful facial expressions and commendable inflections. Whether she was cracking an entertaining joke or being overcome by an intense alien life-form, Milici delivered each of her lines impeccably, thriving off of her comedic timing. The authoritative Pastor Centauri, played by Jessica Gomez, commanded the stage and spoke with utmost eloquence. She expressed her emotions powerfully through her enticing, clear voice and exemplary articulation.

The soldier ensemble in Act Two worked together tremendously. All of members in the group succeeded in individualizing each respective character with specific and distinct characteristics. The girls did a phenomenal job utilizing the chairs onstage to their advantage and creating compelling moments throughout the act.

The technical aspects of the performance excelled brilliantly. The show ran quite smoothly due to the efficient and fully organized stage management by Paulina Cruz, Joshua Stables, and Emily Rodriguez. Makeup, by Valeria Moran, helped convey each unusual, harsh injury with realistic designs and exquisite execution. The sound accentuated each scene magnificently and composed a mysterious mood reminiscent of the many sci-fi classics on which the play was based.

“There once was a girl who faced the end of the world.” Much like Mitzi tackled her battles, Somerset Academy Arts Conservatory faced the immense challenge of performing a completely original show and building its characters from the ground up. The dedicated cast should take pride in its impressive, out-of-this-world production of “The Foreverglades”.

*** *** ***

By Morgan Wolfe of JP Taravella High School

As Floridians, we tend to take the Everglades for granted, but Tyler Grimes, director at Somerset Arts Conservatory, found the swamp so intriguing he wrote an entire play with it as the setting. As one of his characters says, “great stories are about the journey, not the ending,” and the Everglades are the perfect place for an eerie journey.

Grimes first came up with the idea on the way to his NYU graduation in May of 2012. The show debuted with his own students on October 13, 2016. Inspired by science fiction movies, Grimes realized he had knowledge of the perfect location from growing up with South Florida’s murky swamp right in his backyard.

The story focuses on Mitzi Carmichael (Clara Pulido), an adventurous thirteen-year-old girl who aspires to tell stories. While a high schooler, Pulido strongly portrayed a strong-headed younger girl who is often brimming with youthful ignorance.

Mitzi’s partner-in-crime is Copper Jones (Gabriel Celik). Celik connected beautifully with Pulido’s character, and he made the audience hang on his every word with his impeccable diction and expressive face. Rounding out the trio facing an alien abduction was Gianna Milici, playing the role of Carly Ghidorzi. The gifted Milici truly stole the show from the second she stepped on stage with her brilliant comic timing. Her character becomes the ringleader who must save the day, and Milici channeled a take-charge attitude throughout the performance.

Supporting actors brought much to the show. Jessica Gomez, as the Pastor preaching about the abductions, had a demanding stage presence. Jerry Carmichael played Mitzi’s father and brought a grace and compassion to the complicated relationship of the estranged father and daughter.

Act Two introduced audience members to a battalion of female soldiers that fiercely defended the Everglades. All of the actresses in this ensemble gave breathtaking performances, working well as a team of actors and soldiers. At various times, they all embody one soldier named Mary Beth Cameron, and the transitions were handled seamlessly.

The tech ran almost flawlessly, although some set changes were a bit lengthy at times.  One of the most original moments in the show happened when eight chairs were turned into a car followed by a machine gun followed by other items of war. Lighting turned the stationary set into a moving scene and really enhanced the science-fiction feel of the play.

Not many times can an actor, especially in high school, be lucky enough to say they were in the original cast of a production, but the student at Somerset Arts Conservatory can. Kudos on creating your characters from bottom up and doing a terrific job doing so. As an audience member, it is very entertaining to see a show without having any preconceived notions, and Grimes and his cast and crew delivered an entertaining and thought-provoking night of theater.

Reviews of The 39 Steps at Royal Palm Community High School on Saturday, 4/1/2016.


By Dominique Monserrat of Saint Andrew’s School

An enigmatic mystery took place at Royal Palm Beach Community High School in the form of the play THE 39 STEPS on Friday evening.  This thrilling play followed Richard Hannay as he encountered foreign spies–or secret agents, depending on whom you ask–an evil professor, and dozens of other eccentric characters.  Originally a novel by John Buchan published in 1915, THE 39 STEPS was adapted for film by Alfred Hitchcock in 1935 and rewritten as a play by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon.  The final adaptation of the play, performed by Royal Palm Beach Community High School, was by Patrick Barlow, written in 2005.  Though the play originally calls for a four-person cast, with three of the actors playing multiple roles, Royal Palm Beach Community High School adapted it for a larger cast of fifteen, still with most actors playing several roles.

Leading the play as Richard Hannay was Ryan Gosling.  Gosling did a fantastic job embodying the ridiculous Hannay.  His exceptional commitment to his character was humorously shown in his extreme movements.  Most entertaining were his fight scenes, particularly with Julian Nieves as Professor Jordan.  Nieves was also very dedicated to his character, providing another source of amusement for the audience.  As he was one of the actors who played multiple roles, another role in which Nieves was exceptional was as the old man Mr. McQuarrie.  In a few minutes on stage, he had the entire audience laughing with his strong use of physicality and vocal inflection.

Playing opposite both Gosling and Nieves were Selena Lugo, Ashley Watson, and Nadalie Hilario.  Lugo started the play off on a good note with her ridiculous portrayal of Annabella, the secret agent who initially gets Hannay involved in finding The 39 Steps.  Watson, beginning the conclusion of the first act, danced around the stage as Professor Jordan’s housewife, garnering laughter from the audience for her obliviousness.  Hilario, as Hannay’s love interest, had excellent chemistry with Gosling, and her transition from a kidnapped woman handcuffed to Hannay to a loving woman who plays a vital role in the conclusion of the play was enjoyable to watch.

Every actor featured in THE 39 STEPS deserves to be commended for extraordinary commitment to their characters’ physicalities; their extreme characterization showed their understanding of the farcical element of the play.  In addition, each student brought an incredible energy to the stage.  However, at times the intense energy was too great, and the play became exhausting to watch.  Also, with more energy came more volume, and several times throughout the show diction and enunciation were sacrificed in place of yelling.  Another thing that interfered with audience members’ ability to understand the plot were the many accents; often, the accents were disruptive as opposed to adding to the humor and the message of the show.

While the complete lack of reality did not allow the audience to fully connect with the story on stage, the students of Royal Palm Beach Community High School did an admirable job creating relationships between characters and putting on an entertaining and comical performance of The 39 Steps.

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By Maya Quinones of Deerfield Beach High School

How far would you go to defend a murder you did not commit? With suspense, espionage, love, and a couple of missing fingers, Royal Palm Beach Community High School’s production of the chaotic comedy The 39 Steps answers these questions and more.

Adapted from both the 1915 novel by John Buchan and the 1935 film by Alfred Hitchcock, Patrick Barlow’s THE 39 STEPS combines elements of melodramatic theatre with Hitchcock’s signature suspenseful style. While not nearly as spine-trembling as Hitchcock’s The Birds or Psycho, Barlow’s hilarious adaptation of the story lends itself well to the over exaggerated style of melodrama. Boasting two Tony Awards, THE 39 STEPS has enjoyed positive critical responses since its 2005 debut. Famous for showcasing “four fearless actors, playing 139 roles in 100 minutes,” THE 39 STEPS was a theatrical feat on the West End.

Here in Palm Beach, Ryan Gosling plays the frantic bachelor Richard Hannay, on the run from the police for murder and plagued by the mystery of the elusive 39 steps. Gosling was clearly well educated in the style of melodrama, his physicality and facial expressions captivating scenes. Whether he was clinging to a moving train, sword fighting, or handcuffed to a woman, Gosling maintained a tremendous amount of energy throughout the performance. Selena Lugo plays the exotic undercover spy Annabella. Lugo’s confident stage presence and exaggerated physicality paired well with Gosling’s energy, the two sharing remarkable chemistry and hilarious dialogue. Constantly breaking the fourth wall, Gosling and Lugo had the audience intrigued by the mysterious 39 steps.

Opting out of the traditional four actor version of the show, Royal Palm Beach Community High School’s THE 39 STEPS took the opportunity to showcase its many talented students. Notably, Julian Nieves and Claudia Torres play three characters each, paying homage to the show’s original concept. Donning multiple accents, costumes, and personalities, Nieves and Torres successfully conveyed the likes of six different characters with confidence. The ensemble embodied everything from party goers to sheep, constantly molding themselves to new characters and situations. Although diction was an issue throughout the performance, it did not distract from the plot.

The minimal set had maximum effect, large blocks rearranged to represent everything from a train to a police car. In the absence of everyday household items stood actors, embodying lamps, walls, and coat racks. Scenes were differentiated well, and while set changes ran a bit long, music in the style of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic films filled the empty spaces. Lighting was very diverse, from intense reds portraying a film noir atmosphere to flashing whites bringing the inside of a train to life.

The Master of Suspense Alfred Hitchcock famously stated to “Always make the audience suffer as much as possible.” Royal Palm Beach High School’s production of The 39 Steps proves that suspense and comedy can go hand in hand, keeping their audience laughing while also keeping them at the edge of their seat.

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By Hannah Singer of South Plantation High School

“What are ‘The 39 Steps’???”  Find out in a quirky show filled with hilarious accents, wild goose chases, and spies in Royal Palm Beach Community High School’s production of “The 39 Steps.”

Originally premiering in 2005, “The 39 Steps” is based on the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock film of the same name. The play originally features just four actors playing different roles throughout the show. It relates the story of Richard Hannay’s sudden involvement in an international spy ring due to the murder of a woman in his apartment. Though he is not guilty of the crime, there is no explanation for an alternative killer, therefore leaving Hannay to be chased by the police throughout the show.

The energy was high throughout most of the production allowing the actors to have fun in this quirky show. Minimal technical aspects left the audience more able to focus on the hectic nature of the actions within the show.

Ryan Gosling’s portrayal of the eccentric Richard Hannay was full of larger than life physicality. His overemphasized use of movement and gestures demonstrated his understanding of the rather unique style of physical comedy within the play.

Some actors within the rest of the ensemble stood out through quirky and comedic moments. One such actor, Claudia Torres playing the roles of Compere, Margaret, and Ms. McGarrigle was completely animated in each of her roles. Her high-pitched voice and bubbly presence created for memorable comedic moments within her roles.  Mrs. Jordan played by Ashley Watson again with high energy was hilarious in her portrayal of a ditsy wife. Many of the other actors, however, had difficulty with diction and annunciation with their accents. This resulted in a great deal of lost dialogue and a misunderstanding of parts of the storyline.

The use of minimal props and a minimal set left much to the imagination in terms of thinking beyond what was currently on the stage. This worked for the show, along with the other minimal technical aspects, as they did not interfere with the actions happening on stage. Some microphone issues however, would result in lost dialogue during the show.

The mystery of “The 39 Steps” may never be completely discovered, but Richard Hannay will always find himself in another crazy adventure in Royal Palm Beach Community High School’s production of “The 39 Steps.”

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By Hagan Oliveras of JP Taravella High School

Lights dim, an exciting action movie tune plays as an overture, an air of mystery envelops the theatre. Curtain opens and you are greeted by a question, what are the 39 steps? The Royal Palm Beach Community High School Drama Department seeks to answer that question in this high energy production of the play, The 39 Steps.

It’s a fast moving, spy flick spoof following the exploits of Richard Hannay, a man who is roped into a wild goose chase across Europe to discover answers. It originated in London where it ran for nine years and won the Laurence Olivier award for best play. In America it enjoyed less success on Broadway, where it won two technical Tony awards

Ryan Gosling as our plays protagonist, Richard Hannay opts for a zany spin on the character. He has marvelous physicality and great energy on stage.

The Players in the show play a variety of different characters as Hannay’s journey progresses and while each one is consistently larger and more ridiculous then the next, you never quite believe these characters who are played more as singular token quirks then actual people on top of that diction is constantly a problem.

The simple set that, in conjunction with the equally uncomplicated lighting is functional and you don’t notice anything wrong with it. The sound is equally as robust and functional, however there was a fairly alarming moment late in act 1 where an actors mic wasn’t properly secured and ended up staying in his hand for a large portion of the scene.

Royal Palm Beach Community High School sustains a high energy throughout a fairly long and exhausting piece, a difficult feat. But in this case the actors lack the believably required to capture an audience, as you watch them you realize that very little care was paid to the characters and story, and instead the actors focused on trying to capture the physical, farcical nature of the piece. In the end the 39 Steps is a very difficult play and Royal Palm Beach Community High School makes a grand attempt at the piece but just doesn’t hit the mark.

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Reviews of Mary Poppins at Palm Beach Central High School on Saturday, 4/2/2016.


By Ryan Lim of West Boca High School

Come “Step in Time” down Cherry Tree Lane where you’ll encounter beautiful harmonies, exciting dance numbers, and pure magic at Palm Beach Central High School’s riveting production of “Mary Poppins”.

Mary Poppins is a musical based on the similarly titled movie created by Disney and book series by P.L. Travelers. The story follows the Banks family whose children are out of control and need a stern nanny. When Mary Poppins appears on their doorstep, the have no other choice than to hire this strict, yet peculiar nanny. Little did they know she would change the entire family’s life in the most magical of ways.

Jillian Halperin, playing Mary Poppins, immediately caught my attention. Her beautiful soprano voice rang throughout the theatre during her song. Halperin was clearly very committed to character, and was “practically perfect in every way.” Josh Houchins, playing Bert, also impressed me with his crisp, smooth vocals. Houchins captured the playfulness and flamboyancy of Bert very well.

Nicole Pena, playing Jane Banks, had an absolutely stunning voice and played the age of her character very well. Sometimes I forgot that she was truly a high school student. Her characterization and ability to play a stubborn child amazed me. Ben Shaevitz, playing Michael Banks, was always by Pena’s side. Similar to Pena, Shaevitz portrayed his character’s age very well. The two had extremely good chemistry and their interactions with Mary really brought something new to the stage.

Although there were some sound issues, the technical aspects were outstanding. The set was truly a masterpiece. The moment the curtain opened on the park, I was drawn into the show and brought to Cherry Tree Lane. When the trees began to glow during the song “Anything Can Happen”, I was overcome with joy. It was such a beautiful sight and filled the room with a magical aura.

Mary Poppins was a beautiful show that let me experience two hours of pure bliss. Palm Beach Central’s production was “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and more!

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By Gabi Simon of Coral Glades High School

Palm Beach Central’s production of “Mary Poppins” was “practically perfect in every way” with stunning sets, vivacious vocals, and dazzling dance numbers.

“Mary Poppins” is a musical with music and lyrics by the Sherman Brothers, with additional music and lyrics by George Stiles and Andrew Drewe, and a script by Julian Fellowes. The musical is a fusion of elements from the Disney movie and a children’s book series by P.L. Travers. When adapted to the stage, some elements from the movie were omitted while some elements from the book series were added. “Mary Poppins” originally opened on the West End in 2004 and won two Olivier Awards for Best Actress in a Musical and Best Theatre Choreography. The Broadway production of “Mary Poppins” opened in 2006 and received seven Tony nominations, including Best Musical, and won for Scenic Design. “Mary Poppins” tells the story of the Banks family and its new magical nanny, Mary Poppins. Mary’s old friend Bert, a jack-of-all-trades, narrates the story as Mary Poppins and the Banks children, Jane and Michael, create memories and learn lessons throughout Cherry Tree Lane.

Jillian Halperin played the prim and proper Mary Poppins. Halperin exuded an air of confidence and knowledge beyond most high school students. Halperin demonstrated amazing vocal ability in songs such as “Practically Perfect” and “A Spoonful of Sugar.” Narrating the story as Bert was Josh Houchins. Houchins demonstrated spot-on comedic timing throughout the show and shone in “Jolly Holiday” and “Step in Time.” Depicting the rambunctious Banks children were Nicole Pena (Jane) and Ben Shaevitz (Michael). Pena and Shaevitz had tremendous chemistry and both embraced the childlike mannerisms of the Banks children. Pena especially stepped into the role of Jane Banks and dazzled the audience in numbers such as “Cherry Tree Lane” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocius.”

The ensemble as a whole often lacked energy. They were able to pick up the energy in big dance numbers like “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocius” and “Step in Time,” but in other less dance heavy numbers they were not engaged in the scene and lacked motivation in their movements. A standout in the ensemble was Amy Cwick, who demonstrated exemplary dance technique in “Step in Time” and was fully engaged in the number.

The set, constructed by Lindsay Nichols and Chloe Lacatoure, was multi-functional and well constructed. Nichols and Lacatoure paid close attention to detail and made the audience feel like they were on Cherry Tree Lane. The show ran smoothly for the most part, but some of the scene changes took longer than necessary. Costumes were time period appropriate and aesthetically pleasing and fit the actors well.

Overall, “Mary Poppins” at Palm Beach Central was well-executed. The cast and crew was, for lack of a better word, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

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By Morgan Wolfe of JP Taravella HS

“Can’t put me finger on what lies in store, but I feel what’s to happen all happened before.” While the musical “Mary Poppins” has been performed numerous times before, Palm Beach Central High School brought a fresh spin to this beloved classic.

Every child grows up watching the Disney movie over and over. But the musical “Mary Poppins” first popped up in London’s West End in 2004, then hit Broadway in 2006, where it earned seven Tony nominations and one win. The musical is actually a combination of the film and the series of children’s books by P.L. Travers that started it all and introduced the world to the magical nanny.

Jillian Halperin, portraying the beloved Mary Poppins, was “practically perfect” in every way. Halperin’s magical range was impressive with its sweet high notes and her dance skills were just as delightful as her vocals. Josh Houchins, as Bert, played the lovable sidekick to perfection. When he led the dance number “Step in Time,” he left the crowd roaring.

Nicole Pena and Ben Shaevitz brought so much spunk and sweetness to their roles as the Banks’ children. Pena, in fact, possessed one of the best voices in the show, and her crisp and clear vocals rang out throughout the auditorium. When Hannah Baker appeared in Act Two as Mr. Banks’ old nanny, Mrs. Andrew, the show really took off. Baker bought the fire and energy that was lacking sometimes in the ensemble pieces earlier in the show. During her solo, “Brimstone and Treacle,” the stage turned blood red, and the audience could not take their eyes off of her brilliant, big and risky acting choices.

As always, the two biggest crowd-pleasers were “Step in Time” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” The ensemble maintained high energy and perfect choreography throughout both. In fact, in the latter number, the ensemble took the challenging choreography from Broadway and delivered a stellar performance, complete with all the accents and perfect diction in this difficult piece.

Technically, the show ran flawlessly with the exception of just a few mic issues. “Mary Poppins” has extensive set changes throughout, and they were all pulled off without disruption or extra noise. The student-designed set paid careful attention to every detail, especially the individually carved bricks that protruded in places.

The illuminated cherry trees added to the number “Anything Can Happen,” making the song picture perfect.

“Mary Poppins” is a timeless classic, where you know exactly what will happen next but are thrilled to be along for the ride once again. Palm Beach Central managed to keep it fresh and spirited throughout. In particular, the choreography and set pieces really lit up the stage.

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By Kayla Goldfarb of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Lights rise on Cherry Tree Lane.  It’s another dull, disappointing day.  Another governess gone for the Banks family and a new one needed immediately. In swoops Mary Poppins, who appears to have arrived by the wind!  Anything can happen, and in Palm Beach Central’s latest production, this unique nanny proved just that!

The story of this fantastical woman first originated from the children’s books written by P. L. Travers where they were later adapted into the critically acclaimed movie produced by Walt Disney, starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke.  The stage version of “Mary Poppins” kept the original music and lyrics done by the Sherman Brothers with additional help from George Stiles and Anthony Drewe.  The musical first appeared at West End in 2004 where it won 2 Olivier Awards.  It was then brought to Broadway in 2006, where it was nominated for 7 Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

Taking on the role of the magical nanny herself was Jillian Halperin (Mary Poppins) who absolutely lit up the stage. From her lilting, sweet vocals to her peculiar charisma, Halperin embodied the extraordinary persona of the iconic character. Alongside her was Josh Houchins (Bert), who proved to be a seasoned performer as he sang, danced, and even spoke in a clear Cockney accent the entire show without his energy ever wavering.  However, it was Nicole Pena (Jane) and Ben Shaevtiz (Michael) who truly stole the show.  The two had phenomenal chemistry with one another which, in turn, augmented their own individualized performances. With Pena’s sassy disposition paired with Shaevitz’s boyish charm, the duo depicted the youthful nature of the siblings superbly.

The production also featured a wide assortment of whimsical, entertaining characters.  Most notable was Hannah Baker (Mrs. Andrew), who brought a fresh, new energy to the stage, managing to deliver all her comedic content while still appearing frightening.  Sebastian Sosa-Reese (Neleus) and Delaney Keefe (Queen Victoria) stood out as well as two dancing statues in the park.  The two were so dedicated to their roles that they were believed to be actual statues until they started moving!  Also worth mentioning is Amanda Ibarra (Mrs. Corry/Mrs. Brill) who was both zealous and zany in her respective roles.

Though energy dwindled from time to time, the members of the ensemble managed to revive the atmosphere when they performed musical numbers such as  “Step in Time” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” with their infectious energy. Hats off to the student-run crews, who aided the ensemble in tying the show together. The stage crew must be applauded for their seamless transitions.    The student constructed props and set must be applauded as well as they added even more color to this bright show.

In their job that had to be done, the cast and crew of “Mary Poppins” told this classic story with an element of fun and in the most delightful way!

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Reviews of Chicago at West Boca High School on Friday, 3/11/2016.


By Aysha Zackria of NSU University School

Murder, showbiz, and all that jazz! West Boca’s production of Chicago was alive with biting satire and stunning vaudeville numbers, captivating the audience with every song.

After killing Fred Casely, Roxie ends up in Cook County Jail, where she meets Velma Kelly, who is both a murderer and a star. Velma and Roxie, both being represented by Billy Flynn in court, fight for their lives, money, and fame, wanting not only to survive, but also to maintain their status as celebrity criminals. Based on the 1926 play of the same name, Chicago was created in 1975 with music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and book by Ebb and Bob Fosse. It opened on Broadway in the same year, followed by a West End debut in 1979 and a Broadway revival in 1996. The original Broadway production was nominated for 11 Tony Awards and 2 Drama Desk Awards, winning one. The revival, however, won 6 Drama Desk Awards, 6 Tony Awards, and a Grammy.

Alexia Assuncao, playing Velma Kelly, stunningly portrayed a dramatic murderess with incredible conviction. Her voice was strong and full of personality in “All That Jazz” and “I Can’t Do It Alone”. Because of her electric stage presence and sharp movements, she was extremely entertaining to watch, just as her character was written to be. Ryan Lim, playing Billy Flynn, a deceitful, greedy, yet charismatic lawyer, acted the part wholeheartedly. His singing was crisp and clean, making every word he said easily understood. He was especially energetic and flamboyant in “We Both Reached for the Gun” and “Razzle Dazzle”.

Aaron Avidon, as Amos Hart, gained the audience’s sympathy and played up his character’s development, progressing from a naïve husband that caters to Roxie’s every whim to a man who would just wishes to be noticed in “Mr. Cellophane”. Hillary Corniel, playing Matron Morton, was always in character and delivered her lines powerfully. Her chemistry with Assuncao was apparent in their duet, “Class”. Carolyn Castillo, playing Roxie, convinced the audience of her ignorance and selfishness through well-delivered lines. However, where she really shined was in her dancing in numbers such as “We Both Reached for the Gun” and “Tap Dance”. Similarly, Samantha Frankenbush, as Hunyak, beautifully danced with flawless form, which is no easy task considering Fosse’s style of choreography. Frankenbush also spoke Hungarian with extremely realistic accent.

Both costumes and makeup were period-appropriate, contributing to the overall image of the show. Publicity, by Kayla Eckstein and Brigit Ryan, was effective, using multiple platforms to advertise. The show’s set was phenomenal in aesthetic and functionality. The dramatic lighting was an essential piece of the show’s decoration and set the mood in every scene.

This compelling production of Chicago told a tale of “murder, greed, corruption, violence, exploitation, adultery and treachery-all those things we hold near and dear to our hearts.”

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By Lauen Hutton of American Heritage School

Fame trumps everything in the windy city in the 1920’s. Corruption, murder and greed came together to create a dazzlingly cynical night full of loud numbers, hilariously bold characters and undeniable talent in West Boca High School’s production of “Chicago.”

Written in 1975 with music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb, “Chicago” is the longest running American musical on Broadway. Maurine Dallas Watkins’ 1926 play of same title served as the inspiration for the show, which ultimately ran for over 900 performances and won six Tony Awards. The story follows two murderers, Roxie and Velma, who wind up in prison together, competing for who can capture the public’s attention as criminal celebrities.

The set captured the high energy feel of the production with a massive, lit up ‘CHICAGO’ sign descending from the ceiling, two stories of city scaffolding and moving bars to give the essence of a jail cell. The attention to detail was equally commendable. Songs incorporated feathers and silks, the lighting changes consistently reflected the upbeat yet dark atmosphere and scene changes were painless.

The vibrant characters made this show powerful. Alexia Assuncao as Velma, a Vaudeville sensation turned murderer, demanded the audience’s attention every moment she spent on stage. Her expressive facial expressions ranging from contempt to desperation, committed dancing both solo and as part of the whole and dismissive and over the top attitude created a fascinating lead. Her vocals perfectly embodied the breathy yet bold style of the show, and her decline in status and her resulting desperation were captured stunningly.

In a show that focuses largely on women in prison (for amusing reasons such as husbands running into knives… ten times), the men almost stole the show. Billy Flynn, a confident, scheming and incredibly successful criminal defense lawyer displayed such humorous confidence which was strongly backed by impressive vocals. His flashy personality and witty one liners, including implications that had Jesus hired him as a lawyer things would have turned out differently, made him a pleasure to watch. Amos Hart, played by Aaron Avidon, portrayed a starkly opposing character, but still made audiences laugh with his meek and unlucky personality. Finally, M. Madden, was endlessly amusing playing a woman, Mary Sunshine, with a high pitched voice and a variety of frumpy dresses.

The choreography of the show was flawlessly executed from start to finish. Despite the large cast, everyone seemed perfectly in sync, even with the technically challenging Fosse dance style. The impact of seeing a stage full of performers, adorned in short sequined dresses or sheer bodysuits, isolating their body parts in unison and in perfect rhythm was truly hypnotic. The cast acted as a fluid, shimmering entity that was somehow both individualistic and cohesive. This combined with the incredibly strong vocals made for a particularly pleasing production.

West Boca High School’s production of Chicago used humor, near perfect choreography and bold characters to prove that publicity and fame have corrupted the criminal justice system to an almost comical degree.

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By Kelly Blauschild of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

The name on everybody’s lips is gonna be… West Boca High School! Perhaps those weren’t the original lyrics, but they certainly could have been; West Boca’s production of Chicago did, indeed, have that effect on its audiences.

Chicago, set in the Prohibition-era of the title city, is a satirical undulation characterizing the moral perversion of the criminal justice system. With lyrics by Fred Ebb, music by John Kander, and a book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, the musical simulates the notion of the “celebrity criminal” in contemporary society. This concept is personified in none other than Miss Roxie Hart. The plot surrounds the literal backfire of Hart’s committal of murder, complete with the tale of her incarceration and eventual trial. Chicago remains prevalent due to its reflection of immortal themes such as ambition, lust, and crime.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the production was the company’s firm commitment to character. In each number, even the “smallest” of roles could be seen contributing a massive effort at all times. The performance radiated validity, providing a genuine 1920’s atmosphere for viewers. West Boca High School told Chicago’s story through the use of several vaudeville-style acts. The use of an ensemble proved its beneficiality in musical numbers such as the ventriloquistic “We Both Reached For The Gun.”

Velma Kelly (Alexia Assuncao) skillfully portrayed the centerfold of the story. Assuncao manifested the identity of her role by captivating the house. Her killer instincts contrasted with her utter naïveté to project Velma’s knack for manipulation. She charmed theatergoers with her strong vocals and edgy poise, remaining true to her devilish appeal. Assuncao depicted her character’s arc admirably, reaching the climax during verbal altercations with Billy Flynn (Ryan Lim) and Roxie Hart (Carolyn Castillo). Roxie’s development from criminal to celebrity offered a subtle hint toward the damaging effects of stardom, particularly in the case of an “overnight sensation,” whereas Velma’s shift from cockiness to desperation illustrated the lack of stability in staying on top. Assuncao and Castillo established a competitive chemistry between them, similar to that of sisters. Lim, on the other hand, stole the audience’s heart by exuding confidence and charisma. His portrait of Billy included a sleazy aura with just the right amount of grime. He conquered scenes just as Billy Flynn conquered women- aggressively, and with ease.

The supporting cast assisted in driving the plot forward with integrity. At the heart of this was the potentially-not-guilty Hunyak (Samantha Frankenbush). Frankenbush flawlessly rattled off entire monologues in fluent Hungarian, leaving audiences to wonder whether the actress was of the Magyar descent herself. Frankenbush brought a pivotal moment to the show to life with the tearjerking scene where Hunyak is hanged for a crime she did not commit. Dissimilarly, a comedic element was provided by Mary Sunshine (M. Madden), who weepingly narrated Roxie’s court case. Madden, appearing in drag, displayed a melodramatic essence akin to that of a soap opera star.

Despite some faulty microphones, the technical categories excelled. Makeup (Amanda Helbling, Cristina Cautero, Missy Varela, Victoria Martin) was appropriate, and wigs remained intact throughout difficult dance numbers. Costumes (Elizabeth Yarris, Jewelia Carter, Heather Goughan) were beautiful and creative, while still remaining true to the original characters.

Overall, West Boca High School’s production of Chicago demonstrated sophistication and skill, forging a fine farce of cold-blooded killers. And that’s show biz, kid!

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By Valen-Marie Santos of American Heritage School

Jazzy, 1920’s inspired music fills the auditorium. Various performers dance onto the stage, exhibiting the proper style of dance for the era. The lights of a “CHICAGO” sign shine brilliantly. Already, energy takes over the stage, and not a word has been said or sung. West Boca High School’s production of “Chicago” has just begun.

“Chicago” is the second longest running musical on Broadway, and a winner of various Tony Awards. Inspired by music and events of the 1920’s and created by John Kander, Fred Ebb, and Bob Fosse, the satirical musical follows the story of wannabe vaudevillian Roxie Hart, who is sent to jail after murdering her lover. Hoping to get herself freed, Roxie hires Billy Flynn, a renowned lawyer who also represents Velma Kelly, a vaudevillian who has killed her husband and sister. As Billy Flynn publicizes and manipulates Roxie’s story, Roxie obsesses over the fame and attention her crime brings her. Meanwhile, Velma envies Roxie for stealing her spotlight. The conflict swells and eventually resolves, telling an overall story of love, lust, greed, envy, and murder.

West Boca High School’s “Chicago” could not have been so successful without the continuous energy of the ensemble. Despite the difficulty in tackling such a precise dance style, the performers executed the choreography with sharpness and accuracy. In the song “Roxie,” the ensemble of boys supported Carolyn Castilla (Roxie Hart) confidently and successfully. Another strong ensemble number was “Razzle Dazzle,” which had well-synchronized movements and effective blocking that made it a major highlight of the second act. “We Both Reached for the Gun” was also well supported by the ensemble of photographers and journalists.

Individual performers must also be commended for the level of maturity and talent they brought to the production. Alexia Assuncao (Velma Kelly)  brought power to the stage with her strong voice and constantly stayed in tune with her sassy and humorous character both physically and emotionally. From the opening number, “All That Jazz,” Assuncao’s voice conquered the stage. Ryan Lim (Billy Flynn) also exhibited great vocal skill in his impressive belting of the final note in “We Both Reached for the Gun.”

The incredible student-constructed set enhanced the believability of the production and gave the stage different levels, making the staging more interesting. From the brilliantly lit signs, to the various levels of the stage, it is evident that the West Boca High School crew put major effort into creating the elaborate set. The lighting also effectively conveyed the moods and themes of the show. Despite some small sound problems, the technical elements “Chicago” worked together to strengthen the production.

The brilliant performances and technical elements of West Boca High School’s “Chicago” blended together and created a production that stretched way beyond high school level theatre. The cast successfully tackled the mature content while constantly bringing power and energy to the stage. “Chicago” was such a success, it should be a crime.

Reviews of Lost in Yonkers at Pompano Beach High School on Thursday, 3/10/2016

By Neil Goodman of North Broward Preparatory School

What do you get when you mix a tough-as-nails Nana, a criminal uncle, and two brothers abandoned by their father? A dramatic comedy like no other! Pompano Beach High School redefines family drama in their production of Lost in Yonkers.

Winner of the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for best Play, Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers tells the tale of two brothers when their family hits hard times. Neil Simon has been heralded as a comedic mastermind, and it shows in this play. Most of the show’s comedy comes from Jay and Arty dealing with with their taciturn taskmaster of a grandmother after their father had find work on the road.

One-half of the show’s leading dynamic duo, Daniel Llorens, played the adolescent Arty with infectious energy. Llorens displayed clear comedic timing and convivial chemistry especially with Jay, played by Amorie Barton. Barton’s boyish charm and adept articulation allowed him to add excitement into many scenes. Both actors deserve accolades for taking on the underrated challenge of playing a much younger role, as both Llorens and Barton do not have the outward appearance of a thirteen and fifteen-year-old, respectively.

Catherine Hollows played the boys’ mentally handicapped Aunt Bella with refreshing sweetness. Hollows’s commendable characterization was augmented by her steadfast physicality and unique mannerisms. Taylor-Marie Long’s portrayal of Grandma received many laughs due to her evident commitment and sharp line delivery. Ryan Swart’s powerful stage presence and unwavering accent made the moxie-filled mobster Louie a constant standout. From the moment he walked on stage, it was obvious that Swart had a strong grasp of the role’s humor.

The show’s costumes and makeup fit the time period well, and the set was comprehensively furnished. At times, low sound levels made certain story elements unclear. Although moments of inappropriate lighting drew undue attention to lengthy transitions, the actors maintained professionalism and persevered.

To those that think making teenagers perform the mature humor of Neil Simon is harder than herding cats, this show proved them wrong.  From start to finish, the show had many endearing yet comedic moments. While there were instances of incomplete characterization and wavering focus, the cast of Pompano Beach High School deserves praise for their auspicious undertaking of a show as difficult as Lost in Yonkers.

Pompano Beach High School told a uniquely witty tale of family, forgiveness, and sacrifice in their heartwarming production of Lost in Yonkers.

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By Caitlyn Castiglione of Western High School

When a father of two sons is forced to find a job and leave his children with his strict German mother and peculiar siblings, a sticky situation emerges. Written by Neil Simon, Lost in Yonkers portrays the epiphany of a dysfunctional family. the play premiered December 31, 1990, this comic drama was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Simon’s work is often difficult to replicate; however, Pompano Beach High School successfully produced this stage classical.

Daniel Llorens as Arty and Amorie Barton as Jay had a beautiful chemistry that steadily built throughout the duration of the show. With lines teeming of comedic potential, both actors’ timing projected the ironic comedy of an unfortunate situation.

Ryan Swart as Louie truly engulfed the audience with his distinct, consistent accent and contagious laugh. As family stress escalated around him, this spunky gangster uncle remained the steady comedic relief.

Having a role who is the catalyst to a majority of dilemmas in the plot, Taylor-Marie Long as Grandma was faced with a difficult challenge. However, through stiff movements and consistently sour facial expressions, Long successfully portrayed an old-fashioned German grandmother and morphed a bitter role into a hilarious icon. This actress’ choice of making her elderly role stand up straight, as opposed to the typical hunched over depictions of a grandmother, emphasized the stubborn tendencies of Grandma and made her memorable.

Catherine Hollows excellently captivated Bella’s stunted age and stole the audience’s hearts. Her naive character was emphasized through Hollow’s acting skills that entertained the audience.

Pompano Beach High School’s Lost in Yonkers proved to entertain and emphasized the idea of blood truly being thicker than water. Though some lines seemed to not carry out to the audience, the comedic tone of the cast animated the plot. Even with tension and a common dislike for Grandma pooling, the family still acknowledges their love for one another in the long run.

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By Isabella Cring of Western High School

When an indebted widower has to leave his prepubescent sons with their militant grandmother, daft aunt, and gangster uncle, adventures are bound to ensue. Set in a World War II era upstate NY, “Lost In Yonkers” by Neil Simon is a heartwarming comedy about the misadventures of two young boys when they find themselves stranded in their unwelcoming grandmother’s home. Pompano Beach High School put their own twist on this play with wit and grace.

The two brothers, Jay and Arty, were played by Amorie Brown and Daniel Llorens, respectively. Their chemistry was consistent and endearing to a strong brotherly love and affection. Llorens adorably played the classic “little brother trying to be a man.” His numerous attempts at maturity and respect were an absolute delight. Catherine Hollows was great as the mentally challenged Aunt Bella. Her childlike behavior contrasted against womanly feelings created a truly realistic character. She was a bright light in the play.

Ryan Swart as Uncle Louie absolutely stole the show with his mobster charisma and physicality. His confidence and stage presence made him impossible to look away from. He taught the audience and the characters what true “moxy” really is. Taylor-Marie Long as the flawed matriarch had a strong arc as the show went on that made her a well-rounded and captivating antagonist.

Everyone in this show was always in the light, and sound was usually clear, with just some small problems with projection. Set changes were minimal and effective, maintaining the ambiance and energy of the play.

“Lost in Yonkers” by Neil Simon is a challenging and touching piece that, despite taking place in the 1940s, it is still relevant today. This show was brought to life with new energy by Pompano Beach High School. Their enthusiasm and charm made the audience wish for a time long gone- a time to be “Lost in Yonkers.”

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By Brittyn Bonham of Pine Crest School

Gangsters, Germans, and Jews; you wouldn’t expect all three when visiting Yonkers… unless you’re entering Neil Simon’s world of Lost in Yonkers. First performed on Broadway in 1991, Lost in Yonkers focuses on brothers who move in with their estranged grandmother. During their time with the strict relative, they meet and bond with many quirky members of their family and learn exactly what family means.

The show began with two brothers, Arty (Daniel Llorens) and Jay (Amorie Barton), begging Grandma (Taylor-Marie Long) to let them stay in her house while their father, Eddie (Manuel Collantes), pays off his debts. Their childlike Aunt Bella (Catherine Hollows) who still lives with her rigged mother, convinces her to let them stay. During their time in Yonkers they learn many lessons from silly, naïve Aunt Bella, tough, charismatic Uncle Louie (Ryan Swart), and asthmatic, nervous Aunt Gert (Stephanie Freeborn).

Llorens and Barton definitely nailed the chemistry that two young brothers should have. The three siblings of Jay and Arty’s father also held a wonderful chemistry throughout the show, giving a very believable relationship.

Swart perfectly portrayed the “Moxie” Louie claimed to be known for. He used a Brooklyn accent, comedic timing, and body language to play his role and truly acted as a the not so great role model the playwright intended him to be. His performance raised the energy and timing of the show and he brought the whole cast together.

Long gave a stern performance as the unbreakable matriarch of the family. Her accent was mostly consistent and was reminiscent of Germany, the country she migrated from.

Throughout the show it seemed that some actors did attempt to hold a “yonkers” accent, however there were many times in which these dialects were dropped and the siblings sounded like they were raised in different places.

The set was very fitting to the era and style of the play and the actors played off the props very nicely. However, due to some staging issues, many actors were upstaged or turned away from the audience during the show. The set changes were very lengthy and seemed unrehearsed, with the crew making funny gestures in a very unprofessional manner. The costumes didn’t fit many of the actors properly causing them to seem uncomfortable on stage.

Overall this production was slightly above average. The cast managed to bring the audience back in time and display how the boys were lost not only in Yonkers, but also in their discovery of themselves, only able to flourish due to the extreme characters in their family. Pompano Beach High School embraced this funny show and brought the audience on an adventure of familial love.

Reviews of Cats at Cypress Bay High School on Thursday, 3/10/2016.


By Erica Merlino of The Sagemont School

It’s midnight. It’s eerily silent. Suddenly, an explosion of music and lights reveals the phenomenon that is “Cats The Musical.” “Cats,” supported by a strong ensemble with truly developed characters, was one “Memory” that shall never be forgotten. Cypress Bay High School performed “Cats” to perfection (or purfection), due to a vibrantly talented cast, each who exuded brilliant amounts of energy and feline finesse.

“Cats,” one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most well-known creations, tells the story of “Jellicle cats,” as they decide which cat will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new life. “Cats” is the fourth longest-running show in Broadway history, with over 6,000 performances (and we thought cats only have 9 lives).

The task of carrying an ensemble-based show is quite the feat. However, Suzie Fyodorov and Ivan Azcarate, as Grizabella (The Glamor Cat) and Old Deuteronomy (the appointed leader) – respectively – rose to the occasion with ease and charm. Fyodorov stunned the audience with her vocal ability, and perfectly portrayed the “washed up,” sad, lonely, cat who is lost in her memories of when she was young and adored. Azcarate must possess natural leading ability, as he stepped up into a patriarch role for all of the cats. He had energy on stage that demanded attention and respect from the audience. Both characters acted as the spine of the show, and as the glue that held the production’s many elements together. They both left a deep impression on the audience, and their performances enhanced an already consistently amazing production.

Special recognition should go to each and every member of the cast. They each possessed magnificent ability to stay in the moment, to all embrace a feline physicality, and to maintain a high degree of energy throughout the entire performance. The entire ensemble was all so talented – their intricate, engaging choreography, their beautiful harmonies, and their extremely varied facial expressions were a few of the many highlights of the production. Jordanne Cantrill, as Victoria, stood out amongst the crowd. She was able to support each storyline at hand, and was able to portray a range of emotions throughout every scene. Her beautiful dancing was only enhanced by her prevalent acting capabilities, which formed one perfectly well-rounded character. Other notable performers include Adrian Machado as Munkustrap, and Ben Siegal as Mr. Mistoffelees. Machado, with his full understanding of his character, and Siegal with his faultless comedic timing and stage presence, were both wonderful attributes to the production as a whole.

The technical aspects of this production were flawless. Scenes moved fluently and with much avail. The costumes, by Angelica Herrera, Jillian Moore, Jordanne Cantrill, and Adrian Machado, were exquisitely crafted and suited each character wonderfully. The costumes were especially impressive, considering that they were student-done and still executed to superiority.

Cypress Bay did Andrew Lloyd Webber’s masterpiece (or meowsterpiece) justice, in every which way. Each character was so dedicated to their performance, making the production as a whole that much more enjoyable. An extremely impressive performance executed by this high school, one even the superb Gus the Theatre Cat would approve of.

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By Laralee Simpson of Archbishop McCarthy High School

Come one, come all, and be reborn in Cypress Bay’s Jellicle Ball in their memorable production of Cats!

Based off of T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,” Cats first opened on the West End in 1981 and then on Broadway in 1982. Winner of both the coveted Tony and Olivier Awards of Best Musical, Cats is the fourth longest running musical on both Broadway and the West End. With music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Cats tells the story of many feline characters assembling for their annual Jellicle Ball in a dystopian junk yard. Under the supervision of Old Deuteronomy, a cat must be chosen to be reborn into a new Jellicle life. Through song and dance, many cats are introduced and tell about their past glories and what makes them unique.

Despite a few lighting and microphone difficulties, the show ran incredibly smoothly. Every detail on stage had a specific purpose and added a dynamic feel to the show. From each set piece in the dilapidated junk yard, to every piece of yarn on the cats’ costumes, everything was perfectly placed and crafted.

As a collective whole, the ensemble of the production did an astounding job portraying the stealthy creatures. Every single actor on stage mastered cat like mannerisms and acted well off of one another. It can sometimes be a challenge to have a numerous amount of actors on stage dance in sync, but this was no obstacle in this performance. All dance moves were perfectly synchronized and were executed flawlessly, while maintaining to properly sing their different harmonies and showcase their talent to its full potential.

Stealing the show with her mesmerizing voice was Susie Fyodorov, portraying the iconic role of Grizabella. As soon as Fyodorov entered on the stage, you felt her pain as the deteriorated glamour cat, shunned by her fellow felines. Singing the famous tune “Memory,” Fyodorov left the audience speechless, singing with a stunning and passionate voice. Also captivating audience members was Jordanne Cantrill, playing the pure, white cat Victoria. With her remarkable dance technique, Cantrill didn’t stumble once, dancing with poise and perfection.

A notable dynamic character duo was Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer, played by Michael Valladares and Danielle Gonzalez, respectively. Their chemistry with one another in their song “Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer” was consistent and unfaltering. Singing and dancing in sync with one another, this sneaky duo had audience members laughing and cheering for their comedic performance. Also leaving an impression upon the audience with his entertaining performance was Max Berger, playing Gus, the theatre cat. He told the story of his past fame, when theatre was a better place. Berger had excellent comedic timing, delivering his lines with suitable inflection.

Through beautiful choreography and “purrfect” harmonies, Cypress Bay dazzled audiences with its stellar production of Cats, teaching onlookers that everything has beauty on the inside, no matter how repulsive they may seem on the outside.

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By Dashawn Perry of JP Taravella HS

Everyone knows that a cat has nine lives. But each cat also has three names: one commonplace, one unique, and one that only the cat itself knows. There are also many, many more important Jellicle customs that transpire only by the light of the Jellicle moon. In a staggering feline and incredibly entertaining production of “Cats,” Cypress Bay High School embodied the mysterious feline spirit.

“Cats,” with music and lyrics by the Andrew Lloyd Webber, is based off a series of poems by T.S. Eliot and originally opened in London in 1981 where it ran for twenty-one years. The same creative team brought the musical to Broadway as well in 1982. The musical takes the form of a vignette show, featuring the motley crew of Jellicle Cats attending an annual meeting where Old Deuteronomy, their leader, selects one special and worthy cat to ascend to the Heaviside layer.

At its heart, “Cats” is an ensemble show, and the large cast all poured their whole selves into their roles, each of them alway engaged and the appropriately cat-like sassy attitudes was always apparent.  . Harmonies were also always tight and precise, they sang very difficult music with ease through the entire show. Jordanne Cantrill’s choreography was appropriate and extremely entertaining, the Cast tackled the seemingly challenging choreography with ease.

Still, some performers managed to distinguish themselves above the rest. Victoria (Jordanne Cantrill) was an amazing dancer and exhibted the perfect feline movements that showed her extensive dance background, while she also sang soft beautiful solos. Demeter (Jillian Moore) another standout dancer. She shined in songs such as “Macavity” as her smooth jazzy tone filled the room. Munkustrap (Adrian Machado) shone on the stage as he sang songs sweetly, with great vocal variets and a velvety
tone, he captured the attention of many as he was one of the best dancers in the cast.

More central to the small amount of plot was Grizabella, played delicately by (Suzie Fyodorvo). Her voice was clear and strong as she tackled one of the staple songs of musical theatre: “Memory.” Old Deuteronomy, the leader of the Jellicles, was portrayed with a more confident presence by (Ivan Azcarate) whose voice was also impressive.

The technical elements were just as captivating as the performers themselves. The astonishing hair and make-up were truly transformative. Meticulously painted faces and hand-made wigs crafted a unique look for each cat that matched their fitted costumes. The wigs were also very well secured, staying on through the leaps and twists of the choreography.

Seemingly, cats are very much like you and me. All in all, with brilliant tech, dedicated actors, and beautiful choreography on top of difficult songs, Cypress Bay High School’s production of “Cats” was utterly un-fur-gettable.

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By Alex Wind of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Midnight. Not a sound from the pavement. Suddenly an explosion of music and lights reveals a larger-than-life junkyard. Tonight is the one special night each year when the tribe of Jellicle Cats reunite to celebrate who they are, and this is where Cypress Bay High School’s production of Cats begins.

Based on T.S. Eliot’s whimsical collection of poems, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, Andrew Lloyd Webber crafts a beautiful musical in which a tribe of Jellicle Cats on a moonlit evening must make the Jellicle choice and decide which of them will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and be reborn. The musical won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Book, and Original Score. A magical, moving, and often hilarious glimpse into the lives of others, Cats takes Eliot’s lyrical poetry and puts it into the mouths of a diverse company of singing, dancing felines.

Ivan Azcarate (Old Deuteronomy) gave a wonderful performance which included a rich baritone voice that perfectly suited the stately grandeur of the character he portrayed. Suzie Fyodorov (Grizabella) delivered an absolutely chilling performance, especially in the show’s most famous number “Memory” in which her elegant voice filled the theater with grace.

Adrian and Daniela Machado (Munkustrap) transitioned the show smoothly to lessen the confusion of the storyline, while exhibiting excellent singing voices and pristine dancing skills.

Another duo that impressed, Michael Valladares and Danielle Gonzalez (Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer, respectively) between their comedy, singing voices, and chemistry together, they depicted the nimble characters brilliantly. Jordanne Cantrill (Victoria) and Ben Siegel (Mr. Mistoffelees) showed their excellent dancing skills in their parts. Cantrill’s dance moves were not only impressive, but she showed off her experience as well by choreographing the show. Siegel’s characterization of his magical character contributed to his movements and acting as well.

The ensemble as a whole looked phenomenal as every actor maintained their unique characters, all the while having developed relationships with one another. Their mannerisms and actions were supported with their unmarred motivation as nothing seemed forced or uncomfortable. When the entire company sang together, their diction was impeccable and crisp, with superb harmonies and fluid dancing techniques that filled the stage.

The visually stunning set, lights, and make up only added to the spectacle of the show. Another dazzling aspect were the costumes, done by the students, they truly displayed the “cat” persona the actors portrayed.

Reviews of The Madwoman of Chaillot at St. Thomas Aquinas High School on Sunday, 3/13/2016

By Morgan Wolfe of JP Taravella HS

Are you a lover of life or a tax collector? This is a central question asked in the play “The Madwoman of Chaillot.” This March, St. Thomas Aquinas High School treated audiences to this relatively unknown yet entertaining work. Featuring Paris, Lady Gaga, and even invisible pets, there was something for everyone.

Written in 1943 by Jean Giraudoux, this poetic satire takes place in Paris and focuses on a madwoman – Countess – and her oblivion to the outside world. It debuted in France in 1945 and appeared on Broadway in 1948. It was later adapted into a Broadway musical, with a new name, and even became an American movie starring Katherine Hepburn.

Summer Benson, who starred as Countess Aurelia, really embodied her character and was at times hilarious and then poignant. Audiences really saw Benson’s character’s arc throughout the almost two-hour run time. Another standout comedian, Michael Dufek, practically stole the show as The Ragpicker. The audience’s laughter threatened to drown out his monologues throughout both acts.

Kristen Bermudo (The President) provided the loveable sass necessary for her character from beginning to end. An insane businesswoman, The President is a challenging role, but Bermudo stayed consistent and strong throughout, starting the show off with a bang. While the play is a satire, it does find its heart through the eyes of two lovebirds, Irma and Pierre, played respectively by Samara Chahine and Chris Rodriguez. Chahine shone in the closing lines of act one where she revealed her backstory and confessed her true feelings to Rodriguez’s character.

This play was a strong ensemble piece, providing character backgrounds for even featured actors who didn’t get as much stage time. As a group, the “madwoman ensemble” really stood out, with each character’s madness going more and more over the top than the last, making the Countess look less deranged. Another group that really pulled in the audience was the ensemble in the café, which provided another layer of satire to the story.

Technically, the mics sounded crisp and nice, and every word of dialogue could be heard perfectly. The costume crew obviously had a lot of fun matching costumes to their kooky characters. And makeup really aged the characters nicely.

It’s a nice surprise to see a show that you’ve never heard of before. St. Thomas Aquinas did a wonderful job of bringing “The Madwoman of Chaillot” to life. Kudos to the cast and crew for fully grasping the satirical nature of the play and embracing the characters to their fullest.

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By Laralee Simpson of Archbishop McCarthy High School

In the world of business, money can sometimes become an object of idolization. In St. Thomas Aquinas’ production of The Madwoman of Chaillot, audience members learned the importance of seeing the beauty in life and defending your beliefs, no matter who may be against you.

A poetic satire written by French dramatist Jean Giraudoux in 1943, The Madwoman of Chaillot was first performed in Paris in 1945, following the author’s death. The production first premiered on Broadway in 1948 and also was revived on Broadway in 1969 in a musical adaptation, starring Angela Lansbury. This theatrical piece focuses around the corruption of business, showcasing its greed when involving monetary items. Centering on Countess Aurelia, the madwoman herself, the story focuses on her belief and dedication in keeping the world a beautiful and sacred place. She feels, with the help of her fellow madwomen and friends, that the only way to solve this horrendous problem is to exterminate the materialistic businessmen and women.

Leading the show with her vibrant fashion statement was the skilled Summer Benson, playing the protagonist of the production, Countess Aurelia. Her over-the-top mannerisms helped to portray this colorful character to its fullest. Benson had impeccable comedic timing, leaving audience members laughing at every joke and ridiculous action. Equally engaging was the  hysterical Mademoiselle Constance, a fellow madwoman, played by Emma Seeger. Wearing an obnoxious blue tutu and petting her invisible dog, Seeger’s riotous performance made laughing compulsory.

Playing the farcical Ragpicker was Michael Dufek. Possessing a strong stage presence, Dufel delivered his humorous lines maintaining complete character. He spoke with strong, clear diction in his portrayal of the amusing chiffonnier. Also playing a witty character, through sign language and no words, was Benjamin Tripp, as the Deaf Mute. Although Tripp did not speak throughout the show, his facial, body and hand movements easily told his story for him.

From both an aesthetic and technical standpoint, the production was solid. The eccentric costumes perfectly suited each character, from the madwomen in their multicolored leggings and tutus to the contrasting black suits of the corrupt businessmen and women. Sound and lighting can sometimes be fickle aspects in a typical high school show, but there were none experienced by the audience. Without these distractions, onlookers were able to focus wholly on the production instead of being sidetracked by any possible stage malfunctions.

Although a difficult satire to execute on stage, The Madwoman of Chaillot was successfully showcased by St. Thomas Aquinas. Through commendable interpretation and character portrayal, the actors successfully conveyed the message that the beauty of life does indeed surpass excess wealth.

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By Erin Cary of NSU University School

A colorful band of artists, a search for oil beneath Parisian streets, and a so-called madwoman who finds herself facing a little more reality than she expected. St. Thomas Aquinas High School struck oil with their one-of-a-kind performance of The Madwoman of Chaillot!

Written in 1943 by Jean Giraudoux, The Madwoman of Chaillot centers around an eccentric idealist who, aided by her friends, fights against a group of business executives who want to dig up the streets of Paris in search of oil. The play premiered at Paris’s Théâtre de l’Athénée in 1945 after the playwright’s death. Translated into English by Maurice Valency in 1958, the poetic satire has received much acclaim and has been adapted to fit many formats, including film and musical theatre.

Summer Benson carried the show as the title character, the Madwoman of Chaillot. Her performance showed an advanced level of engagement and understanding of the text. Her eyes never left a scene, and even when she wasn’t the center of attention, her presence was constantly felt on stage. Michael Dufek (Ragpicker) also brought a much-needed energy and variety to the stage. His pacing and intonation with comedic moments had the audience bursting with laughter and brightened many scenes. The two both made use of varying physicality and vocal patterns to ensure that their performances were never dull. They showed an engagement and dedication that other actors at times lacked.

Kicking off the show, Kirsten Bermudo crafted a strong character as the ruthless President of an oil company. Her voice and stance conveyed her character’s stout determination and cruelty. Samara Chahine, as the guiltless female love interest Irma, showed a true depth of character when she was active on stage. Her counterpart, Chris Rodriguez, as the docile male love interest Pierre, remained lively from scene to scene and blended nicely with the other actors. Together, the pair gave off a nice chemistry and advanced the story well.

The other Madwomen of Paris, introduced in Act II, brought a bizarre and lovable ensemble to the stage. Emma Seeger (Constance) stood out as consistently engaged and connected even when the attention wasn’t on her. Her devoted relationship with her imaginary dog and her outlandishly funny arguments with her friends helped to energize the performance.  The ensemble of imaginative artists also managed to capture the attention of the audience and add to the production. Benjamin Tripp, as the Deaf Mute, impressed many with his signing and dance skills. His movements were sharp and defined, and his confidence boosted his performance. Although some ensemble members seemed at times disinterested in the production, the strength of a few actors helped to make up for that.

The show’s costumes and makeup contributed a lot to the performance. Each costume was clearly chosen with a strong understanding of the character, and the makeup choices helped to clarify the age and status of the roles. The stage management and sound seemed to run smoothly with only a few noticeable hiccups, and the show’s publicity appeared simple and effective.

Through a well-executed performance, the students delivered a stimulating and admirable production. No audience could forget St. Thomas Aquinas High School’s unique performance of The Madwoman of Chaillot.

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By Neil Goodman of North Broward Preparatory School

In a world where Paris may be destroyed in pursuit of oil, you have to be a little mad to save the day. St. Thomas Aquinas fully embraces this madness in its zany and hilarious production of The Madwoman of Chaillot.

Jean Giraudoux’s original version of The Madwoman of Chaillot was performed in 1945 and served as a satirical commentary on greed. Featuring a group of what today would be labeled “Hippies” battling the oil-hungry business executives of Paris, the show pokes fun at the shortsighted pursuit of wealth. Building off the 1975 Maurice Valency adaption, modern references and music were added in order to make the show’s message more applicable to present day.

Leading the show as the boa-clad, bohemian Madwoman of Chaillot, Summer Benson demonstrated a comprehensive understanding of her complex character and convivial chemistry with her fellow actors. Benson’s powerful stage presence and impressive comedic timing made her a constant delight. Benson also approached the maturity of the Madwoman with grace and poise, never slipping back into the habits of a high school student.

The Madwoman’s colorful counterpart, The Ragpicker, was portrayed with talent and pizzazz by the wonderful Michael Dufek. Dufek didn’t shy away from his character’s difficult dialogue, and he made each line more interesting than the next with his impeccable inflection and articulation. Emma Seeger brought infectious energy to her role of Constance, the Madwoman of Passy. Even when delivering lines to her imaginary dog named Dickey, Seeger maintained focus and never missed a beat. The Deaf Mute, played by Benjamin Tripp, made the most of his stage time with standout dance moves and adept ASL signing.

The set’s neutral colors served to highlight many characters’ funky and outlandish costumes, perfect for their roles. Lighting and sound were simple yet effective in making the actors seen and heard, yet it was unclear how certain technical elements were meant to signal changes in the story. Nevertheless, all cues were called in a timely and unobtrusive manner.

The cast as a whole succeeded in delivering the humor of the play, even with apparent changes to the script. While some actors had trouble understanding all aspects of their characters, moments of unpredictable comedy and endearing relationships shone through as hallmarks of the performance.

The skilled students of St. Thomas Aquinas should take pride in their poignant and heartwarming production of The Madwoman of Chaillot.

Reviews of The Odd Couple – Female Version at Deerfield Beach High School on Friday, 3/11/2016.


By Cayleigh Pine of Pine Crest

Can two people that are polar opposites manage to share an apartment without killing each other? As they say, misery loves company, and with two lonely, recently divorced women, misery loves a roommate, too!

The “Odd Couple”, written by Neil Simon, premiered in 1965 on Broadway, but had, instead of women, two leading male characters that were different in every way. This female version of the play was created around 20 years later, and Deerfield Beach High School displays some girl power through their performance!

The story follows Olive, a divorced, sloppy sports writer, and Florence, the also newly separated, neat-freak. When Florence has nowhere to go after her split, she moves in with Olive, and their oppositions cause friction in the household, leading to some hilarious moments between the two.

Olive Maddison (Maya Quinones) was very natural onstage; she played off every line the other characters would say, and owned each scene she was in. She also had great comedic timing, and projected well, which was great because of the fact that this high school did not have the cast perform with microphones; instead they had their mics either on the floor or hanging over the performers. Florence Unger (Cameron Maglio) was also enjoyable to watch; she had perfect reactions to every situation, and by making her responses so dramatic, she was able to draw a laugh from the audience whenever she spoke.

Some other members of the show that were hysterical to watch were Mickey (Dominique Bethel) and Sylvie (Richa Parikh). Mickey would always have loud and theatrical reactions to either something the other girls would say or phone calls from Florence that would constantly keep the audience in an uproar, while Sylvie had many sarcastic one-liners that were amusing to hear.

Overall, this production from Deerfield Beach High School was fun to watch, and it would definitely be “odd” to miss such a great show!

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By Veronica Lempicki of Western High School

Sometimes, opposites attract…and sometimes, they don’t. Neil Simon’s hilarious adaption of The Odd Couple tells the same beloved story of two polar opposites, except this time, it’s with the opposite sexes. The Odd Couple (Female Version) follows Olive Madison, laid back and something of a slob, and Florence Unger, the uptight neat-freak-two best friends who find themselves living together against all odds. Deerfield Beach High School presented The Odd Couple with spectacular poignancy, leaving audiences feeling as if they had witnessed the real-life goings-on in a New York apartment occupied by quite the odd duo.

Maya Quinones portrayed the sports-savvy, mess-prone character of Olive Madison. Quinones’s ease at displaying confidence in her character proved impressive, her mega-realistic tone and gestures, seemingly effortless, provided much believability and was acutely admirable. Her comedic timing was artful, while her more serious moments were equally as adroit. The ever-classic linguini-meets-wall scene was delivered as humorously as expected, absurdly and memorably. Quinones chemistry with Cameron Maglio, who played the role of Florence Unger, was engaging and dynamic. Maglio portrayed her over-the-top character hilariously. Her mannerisms and vocality were very consistent and added a delightful air of warranted absurdity to the performance. Her interactions with the Constazuela brothers, Manolo and Jesus (played by Marcel Elkouri and Dylan Hershey, respectively) were continuously entertaining. The brothers maintained a humorously in-sync performance, the two working very well to
gether.

Hugely entertaining, the Trivial Pursuit ladies contributed heart and believability to the performance. The quartet, along with Florence and Olive especially, portrayed a friendship so genuine, it seemed as if they had all been best friends for years. Their considerable chemistry made for a supremely memorable and evocative performance. Dominique Bethel played Mickey, the worrisome cop who had the audience in hysterics with her hilarious pacing and high pitched concerns. The tough, no-nonsense Sylvie was played by Richa Parikh, her sarcastic and dead-pan demeanor instilling laughter in huge waves throughout the crowd. Enijdna Van Bokkelen (Vera) and Vanessa Morris (Renee’) portrayed their characters with impressive humorous ability. All the ladies had distinct, funny character quirks which were all delivered effectively.

Despite some diction and pitch issues, the actors produced a cohesive, humorous performance deserving of many rounds of applause. Complete with an immaculate set and prop pieces, Deerfield Beach High School’s The Odd Couple proved incredibly enjoyable, leaving audiences with the distinctive understanding of the compatibility, or incompatibility, between order and disorder.

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By Marissa Mitchell of St. Thomas Aquinas High School

The Odd Couple is one of Neil Simon’s most well-known works. The original comic stage play premiered on Broadway in 1965, but in 1985 Simon created The Female Odd Couple. Deerfield Beach High School’s production of The Odd Couple (The Female Version) was both amusing and solidly executed.

An odd couple. The common phrase is used to refer to a pair that are essentially polar opposites. Olive Maddison and Florence Ungar, the main characters of the play, exemplify this term. Olive, recently divorced, is laid-back, slovenly, and living alone. Florence, on the other hand, is an exceptionally neat and high-strung housewife. These two friends begin to clash when Florence’s husband divorces her and Olive takes her in as a roommate.

The set of the show was the very cozy and well constructed living room of Olive’s apartment. The show began with the promising and witty banter of Olive’s ensemble of friends engaged in a game of Trivial Pursuit. Although the dialogue was a little fast, the actresses completely immersed the audience into the humorous dynamics of their friend group. Maya Quinones shined in the role of Olive, effectively conveying her character’s tough but fun-loving attitude.

Cameron Maglio played the melodramatic role of Florence with convincing physical comedy. Olive and Florence’s conflict appeared genuine, even in moments as iconic as the linguine scene. Both actresses consistently embodied the contrasting personalities of their characters. The costumes of the cast were indicative of the 1990’s. Marcel Elkouri and Dylan Hershey played the only males of the production, Manolo and Jesus Constazuela. The actors performed with good comedic timing and charm.

At times it was difficult to hear the characters, but the cast deserves plaudits for their projection considering there were only floor and hanging miles. Although Olive and Florence separated as roommates at the end, both characters experienced obvious growth. Deerfield Beach High School’s production of The Odd Couple (the Female Version) was a comedy not to be missed.

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By Erin Cary of NSU University School

An overemotional, methodical hypochondriac and a disconnected, messy scamp share an apartment – what could go wrong? Find out at Deerfield Beach High School’s capricious performance of The Odd Couple – Female Version!

Written in 1965 by the American playwright Neil Simon, The Odd Couple tells the story of two friends who find themselves living together despite all reason. Through good times and bad, the two learn to love each other in spite of their differences. The original play premiered on Broadway in 1965 and was an immediate success, inspiring a motion picture and two television sitcoms. Twenty years after the original production, Neil Simon altered the play to accommodate two female leads. The new version ran on Broadway for a year, with the main characters, originally Felix and Oscar, becoming known as Florence Unger and Olive Maddison.

Maya Quinones, as the muddled and chaotic Olive Maddison, gave a beautiful performance with strong physicality and a naturally confident voice. In her own apartment, she gave off an air of relaxation and ease that made her performance more believable and successfully stood in contrast with the anxious and uneasy air of her counterpart. Her accent flowed assertively through her clear and steady voice, making her one of few actors whose lines were never lost. Cameron Maglio, as the organized and rigid Florence Unger, showed a solid commitment to her role, with a steady physicality that helped to convey her character’s discontent. Maglio developed an aura of superiority and prestige that helped to solidify her performance. Together, the two leads had wonderful chemistry that truly embodied the essence of the odd couple.

Starting off the show were Olive’s Trivial Pursuit buddies, played by Enijdna Van Bokkelen, Vanessa Morris, Richa Parikh, and Dominique Bethel.  These ladies displayed strong individual dynamics that allowed them to function well as a group. Dominique Bethel (Mickey) stood out specifically as dedicated and engaged throughout the performance. She made each emotion apparent through her expressive face and her commanding physicality and had the audience bursting with laughter at every exaggerated moment. Marcel Elkouri and Dylan Hershey also possessed impressive comedic timing  as the astutely Spanish Constazuela brothers. Elkouri (Manolo Constazuela) exuded a strong aura of confidence and respectability central to his role. His quick wit and sharp responses helped to improve the passing of the show, while successfully humoring the audience.

Together, the cast had nice chemistry and strong enough dynamics to maintain audience’s attention throughout the performance. While transitions seemed at times awkward and choppy, the actors were generally successful in regaining a decent pace with each scene. The show’s iconic moments and amusing one-liners were landed victoriously, giving audience members a laugh. Although sometimes lacking energy, the cast crafted a constant structure that helped connect moments over time.

In a relatable, eccentric, and naturally funny performance, Deerfield Beach High School uniquely composed a dynamic production of confidence and force. Through laughs and screams, two staunch opposites became the closest of friends and formed a perfect duality in The Odd Couple – Female Version.

Reviews of Chicago at The Sagemont School on Sunday, 3/06/2016


By Veronica Pereira of St. Thomas Aquinas High School

“All that Jazz” was sure brought out for Sagemont’s performance of “Chicago”. The black box theater rendition of Broadway’s second longest running show lended itself to close audience encounters and personal interactions with the talented inmates of Chicago’s women’s prison.

“Chicago” tells the story of Vaudeville actress Velma Kelly who shot her husband and sister. She is the most famous inmate and has a good lawyer, Billie Flynn, who she assumes will stick with her and get her case acquitted. All goes fine for her until Roxie hart murders her lover and steals Velma’s spotlight. As the two women fight for freedom the only way they know how, illegally and scandalously, a bond between them is formed through competition and necessity. The musical first premiered on Broadway in the seventies, but didn’t do well until its second showing in the nineties, which is still running.

Sagemont School’s performance emphasized the vaudevillian style of the show through costumes, dances, and close audience interaction. Actors paid close attention to making sure each side of the audience received face time and felt connected with the story. Amongst some positives were the student choreography and impressive wigs that stayed put during the entire show.

Velma (Susana Obando) had a beautiful series of dances that brought out her character nicely. She was a very professional dancer even in the most risque of scenes. Roxie Hart was beautifully embodied by Jessie Jordan. Her facial expressions and body language were always consistent and sharply executed even during tough scenes and songs including “We Both Reached for the Gun”. Even when her mic pack suffered a slip during the final scene, she continued with poise acting as Roxie, and making little fuss over it. Billy Flynn (Paxton Terris) also had many difficult scenes executed simply and cleanly.

There was a large ensemble involvement in this production. The men and women dancers added color and action to otherwise dry scenes, sometimes even overshadowing the conversation and singing of the main actors. Go-To-Hell Kitty played by Marcella Vargas stood out as not only a good dancer but also a strong and beautiful singer who carried the ensemble voices. Hunyak (Erica Merlino) also stood out with her touching performance and Hungarian speech. Her ending was truly well portrayed.

The costumes were chosen true to the vaudeville style by Andres Hernandez and crew. The lights were well executed by David Scorca and crew, and finally the sound design was controlled by Arturo Fernandez and crew. Although there were minor technicalities throughout the show, it ran smoothly and without interruption.

“Chicago” in Sagemont’s rendition was a high impact and close encounter production full of the true vaudeville nature of the show. There were elements of excitement and entertainment of all kinds accompanied by the acting and dancing of talented high school students.

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By Sofie Whitney of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Welcome to the women’s block of Cook County Jail in Chicago, Illinois.  After meeting with Matron Morton, you will be sent to your cell, but not until you catch The Sagemont School’s radiant production of “Chicago”.

With music by Joe Kander, book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, and lyrics by Fred Ebb as well, the original production of “Chicago” opened on Broadway in 1975, but didn’t have much success.  The show got most of its glory from the 1996 revival, which won six Tony Awards, and is now currently the second longest running musical on Broadway. Set in the 1920s, “Chicago” is a satire of corruption, greed, violence, and adultery that follows the story of aspirant vaudeville performer and newfound murderess, Roxie Hart, and the events that transpire leading up to her big murder case.

The egocentric and fame-hungry murderess Roxie Hart was portrayed by Jessie Jordan. Her performance demonstrated a full understanding of the dazzling essence required for her character.  In the musical numbers, “Funny Honey” and “Roxie” Jordan showcased her elegant and soulful vocals. Billy Flynn, Roxie’s charming and suave, yet very intelligent lawyer, was depicted by Paxton Terris. Terris skillfully depicted the deviousness of his character and was constantly engaged in every scene he appeared in.

Susana Obando characterized the bold and seductive Velma Kelly.  Obando commanded the space with her delightful vocals and flashy dance moves during her rendition of “I Can’t Do it Alone”.  Andres Hernandez, who played the sweet, big-hearted, and innocent Amos Hart, gave a truly sincere performance.  Hernandez portrayed his character with a believability that evoked compassion for his character’s pitiful situation.

The ensemble played a huge role in the success of this production.  The majority of the ensemble appeared to be fully committed in each of the songs they were featured in.  Standout numbers included “Cell Block Tango”, “We Both Reached for the Gun”, and “Razzle Dazzle”, all of which consisted of in-sync choreography and extensive energy from everyone on the stage.

Despite some issues with sound amplification, the technical aspects of the show ran smoothly.  Costumes chosen by Andres Hernandez, Taylor Briesemeister and crew fit the theme and era of the production entirely.  The lighting, done by Michael Reardon, Arturo Fernandez, and Skylar Scorca, suited each scene appropriately.

“Nowadays” it’s difficult to find a show with as much “Razzle Dazzle” as The Sagemont School’s production of “Chicago”.

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By Hannah Singer of South Plantation High School

“The name on everybody’s lips is gonna be Roxie!” Welcome to the Cook County Jail and watch a tale of murder, fame, and jazz unfold through The Sagemont School’s production of “Chicago.”

Premiering in 1975 on Broadway, “Chicago” is the second longest-running Broadway musical ever. With music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb and book by Ebb and Bob Fosse, the 1920’s set musical is a satire on corruption and the justice system. It follows the story of Roxie Hart and the murder of her lover, as she becomes a celebrity for the crime she has committed. During her stay in the Cook County Jail, she meets Velma Kelly, a vaudeville performer also in jail for murder. The two go head to head as they fight for fame, fortune, and the attention of charismatic lawyer, Billy Flynn.

The Sagemont School’s use of a black box theater brought uniqueness to the classic “Chicago.” The emotion and energy of the entire ensemble was felt due to a heightened sense of intimacy with the audience. The cast’s liveliness and dedication created for a very engaging production.

Jessie Jordan’s portrayal of Roxie Hart was filled with energy. Her refined vocals and bubbly characterization melded well together to bring about the naïve personality of Roxie. Velma Kelly played by Susana Obando dazzled with her polished dance technique and sardonic character choices. The stark contrast between the two ladies worked seamlessly to create memorable moments on stage.

From ensemble members to larger supporting roles, many members of the cast had commendable performances. Claudia Moncaliano’s performance of Mama Morton was noteworthy with powerful vocals and a domineering stage presence. Andres Hernandez evoked emotion in his portrayal of Roxie’s loyal husband, Amos, especially in his solo, “Mister Cellophane.” The Merry Murderesses were memorable through their number “Cell Block Tango” with overpowering vocals, precise dance, and impressive synchronization.

Technical elements of the show made many scenes more engaging to watch. Period appropriate costumes full of flapper dresses and feather headpieces were appealing to the eye. There were also beautiful lighting moments where actors were illuminated during intense scenes. Aside from microphone and wig inconsistencies,  the technical aspects of the show intermingled well with the overall performance.

Come see Roxie and Velma’s story of fame and corruption, and you’ll truly be captivated by the lifestyle of a 1920’s murderess in The Sagemont School’s “Razzle-Dazzling” production of “Chicago.”

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By Maya Quinones of Deerfield Beach High School

Broadway’s most famous tale of “murder, greed, corruption, violence, exploitation, adultery, and treachery” is brought to life in The Sagemont School’s stellar production of the hit musical Chicago.

Now taking the spot as the second longest running show on Broadway, Chicago didn’t always have tremendous success on The Great White Way. In its original run, Chicago’s dark themes and unique Brechtian theatrical style made audiences uncomfortable. Over time however, the production has accumulated immense popularity, featuring big name celebrities such as Bebe Neuwirth and Taye Diggs. Music by John Kander and Lyrics by Fred Ebb, Chicago satirizes the American attitude toward crime and the press, highlighting the underground corruption lurking within the justice system in 1920’s Chicago. With six cast albums and six Tony Awards under its belt, Chicago has not only stood the test of time, but also remains relevant to today’s issues with the overt sensationalism the press attaches to horrific crimes.

Jessie Jordan plays Roxie Hart, the aspiring vaudeville star turned murderess. When Roxie shoots her illicit lover, she is immediately incarcerated with little hope of a short sentence. Jordan’s infectious charm and devotion to her character was consistent throughout the performance, Roxie’s bubbly blonde hair and persistent pout demanded the attention of the audience. Equally as impressive is Roxie’s foil, the sarcastic and tough Velma Kelley, played by Susana Obando. With near perfect dance technique and mature line delivery, Obando’s portrayal of Velma Kelley was that of a professional quality. In the numbers “Nowadays” and “Hot Honey Rag,” Obando and Jordan danced in unison, bringing their contrasting qualities to an equal balance of talent. The two actresses had strong chemistry and a complete understanding of the material, proving that despite its mature themes, high schools are capable of tackling the macabre nature of Chicago.

Paxton Terris plays the suave and manipulative Billy Flynn, the most popular lawyer in town. With cigar in hand and a perfectly pressed pink suit, Terris successfully guided the story as Billy Flynn takes control of both Roxie and Velma’s cases. Andres Hernandez plays Amos Hart, the pathetic yet caring husband of Roxie. Hernandez’s authentic portrayal of Amos sparked empathy from the audience as he lamented his unimportance in his solo “Mr. Cellophane.” Hernandez turned the “invisible, inconsequential” Amos into a character worthy of remembrance. Chicago’s classic Bob Fosse choreography was honored in this production, cohesive homage’s to the original production’s dance technique featured in numbers such as the famous “All That Jazz” and “We Both Reached for The Gun.” While sometimes lacking in vocal support, the ensemble maintained energy and successfully assumed multiple roles throughout the performance.

This performance in a Black Box theatre, had the production accomplish very much in very little space. The staging was balanced and effective in representing everything from a courtroom to a bedroom with minimal set pieces. The lighting was dramatic and playful, casting hues of red, blue, and bright white across the stage. Costume malfunctions and microphone inconsistencies were relatively non-distracting and handled professionally by the cast.

The Sagemont Schools impressive production of Chicago proves the vast talent a high schooler is capable of. Unlike poor Amos Hart, this production will not go unappreciated.

Reviews of Bye Bye Birdie at West Broward High School on Thursday, 3/03/2016.


By Samantha Gaynor of Coral Glades High School

West Broward High School killed two birdies with one stone as they brought committed actors and competent technical aspects to their dynamic production of “Bye Bye Birdie.”

Set in 1958, “Bye Bye Birdie” tells the story of Elvis-like superstar, Conrad Birdie, who is drafted into the army much to the dismay of his screaming fans. His agent/songwriter Albert Peterson plans a publicity appearance before his departure in which he gives one lucky fan a kiss to promote his song. With book by Michael Stewart, lyrics by Lee Adams, and music by Charles Strouse, “Bye Bye Birdie” satires the simple American society of the late 1950s.

Capable lead actors gave this production wings. Sarah Gorfinkel as Rosie Alvarez delivered an exceptional performance that only strengthened in the second act. From her convincing movements to her powerful voice, Gorfinkel embodied the spirit of the ’50s with ease. She especially shined during “Shriner’s Ballet” and “Spanish Rose” in which her dancing and mannerisms gave a level of enthusiasm to her performance. Colin Miller as Albert Peterson brought sincere vocals and animated dancing to his role. His corny demeanor proved effective for the show’s style.

The youthful vigor of Kim MacAfee, played by Frankie Storfer, matched well with her sweet voice and energetic acting choices. Her “How Lovely to Be a Woman” was both funny and true to her character. Jacob Dungan’s delightful portrayal of Hugo Peabody created an honest and innocent personality. Dungan’s comedic “drunken” moments, skilled dance steps, and proficient embodiment of the ’50s style made him a joy to watch. The title role of the show, Conrad Birdie, portrayed by Shea Kleinman, conveyed The King’s personality with humorous leg movements especially during “Honestly Sincerely.” Bailey McConnell was notable as Mae Peterson for her comical dedication to the persona of a doting mother. She captured attention with her outrageous manner and zeal. Doris MacAfee and Harry MacAfee, portrayed by Julianna Rector and Jorge Amador, respectively, were also memorable for entertainingly presenting the satirical 1950s family. Amador’s repeats of “Shut up” to his youngest daughter and
his amusing presentation were welcome comedic reliefs.

A vibrant ensemble, both in their color scheme and their performance, were birdies of a feather whenever they appeared onstage. They executed their limited choreography with spirit and synchronization and proved most vivacious when screaming Conrad’s name and singing his theme song. Ursula stood out among the group for her exuberance and commitment.

1950s commercials projected onto the scrim was a welcome technical element that appeared during “One Last Kiss.” That combined with adequate overhead lighting, mostly appropriate costumes, and period makeup elevated the production.

Although some of the actors lacked energy and maturity to their performances, overall West Broward High School’s production of “Bye Bye Birdie” made audience members want to strap on their blue suede shoes and dance along with charismatic characters.

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By Nick Lopez of Cypress Bay High School

What’s the story, morning glory? What’s the tale, nightingale? Well, the latest gossip around town is that West Broward High School took flight with their latest production of Bye Bye Birdie, entertaining an audience with retro charm  and the commitment of some charismatic leads.

Bye Bye Birdie opened on Broadway in 1960 with a start studded cast which included Dick Van Dyke and Chita Rivera, where  it won three Tony Awards including Best Musical. Set in the late 1950s, the musical follows the story of Conrad Birdie, an Elvis-esque rock-and-roll sensation, who is drafted into the army. Taking advantage of the situation, his management team  choose a lucky fan to receive one last kiss from Birdie before he is deployed.

Colin Miller boasted confidence and stage presence as Albert Peterson, Conrad Birdie’s songwriter and agent. He possessed a seamless 1950s demeanor, and showed complete command of his role’s vocal style. Opposite Miller was the lovely Sarah Gorfinkel as Rosie Alvarez; her vocals were exquisite, her dance solos were irresistibly captivating, but it was her ability to give her character depth despite the presentational style of the show which truly made her a highlight performer.

Jorge Amador gave one of the show’s more memorable and hysterical performances as Harry MacAfee, the father of Kim, the fan who wins Conrad Birdie’s “last kiss.” Some performers lacked Amador’s comedic timing, a factor that when paired with a lack of natural interactions between actors led to occasionally awkward pacing. Jacob Dungan was charming and spirited as Hugo Peabody, Kim’s boyfriend, and did well to give an endearing character arc to a familiar archetype. Danoeh Renaud stood out amongst the company as the Mayor’s wife; despite having a minor part, Renaud showed complete understanding of the musical’s campy style and remained completely in character throughout the show. Renaud’s enthusiasm wasn’t always shared by the rest of the ensemble, which displayed inconsistent energy levels and had difficulty in executing large group harmonies.

Dazzling costumes and a playful, multi-faceted set dressed the stage with a retro vibrancy that complemented the show’s colorful characters and music. The stage crew maneuvered these components efficiently, with very quick set changes performed cleanly and consistently. However, microphone and music levels lacked balance, an issue which was complicated by performers that struggled with enunciation.

West Broward High School’s latest musical was playful, nostalgic, and commendably entertaining. Multiple performers soared, providing a memorable night for an audience that wasn’t quite ready to say Bye Bye Birdie by the time that the cast took their bows.

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By Melissa Kean of Piper High School

Audience members had the opportunity to take a trip back to the 1950’s while watching West Broward High School’s uplifting production of “Bye Bye Birdie”.

Bye Bye Birdie opened on Broadway in 1960, instantly becoming a huge hit and one of the most memorable American musicals. With the book by Michael Stewart, lyrics by Lee Adams, and music by Charles Strouse, Bye Bye Birdie won several Tony awards including Best Musical. The musical takes place in 1958 and displays the relationship between Albert Peterson, a songwriter in the music industry, and Rose Alvarez, his secretary and lover. The two of them are in charge of the nation’s hottest celebrity and every teenage girl’s dream guy: Conrad Birdie. It turns out that Conrad was drafted into the army, and in order to give a proper “bye bye” to all of his fans, Rose schedules a publicity stunt for Conrad, in which he serenades and kisses one lucky fan picked at random, on live television. That lucky fan turns out to be Kim MacAfee, a fifteen-year-old girl from Sweet Apple, Ohio. Although this appears to be a dream come true for Kim, she soon discovers that people aren’t always who they seem to be.

West Broward High School created a positive atmosphere throughout the entirety of the show, with an animated ensemble that welcomed you to their small town of Sweet Apple. Some actors worth noting include Sarah Gorfinkel, who portrayed the loveable Rose “Rosie” Alvarez, impressing the audience with her incredible vocal range and authentic characterization. The passionate Gorfinkel proved herself to be a triple-threat and stole the show with her dance moves during the song “Spanish Rose”. Albert Peterson, played by Colin Miller, showed off his talent and graced the stage with his charming, optimistic personality. Shea Kleinman played the Elvis-like Conrad Birdie, who displayed his unmistakable stage presence in the song “Honestly Sincere”.

The star-struck Kim MacAfee was played by Frankie Storfer, who accurately depicted the adventurous teenager and revealed her vocal talents in many various numbers. Kim’s parents, portrayed by Julianna Rector and Jorge Amador, showed audiences that it’s very important to care for your kids, even if you don’t exactly understand them. Jacob Dungan played Hugo, Kim’s jealous, yet hilarious “steady”. Hugo’s comedic timing was superb, never seeming to miss a beat.

West Broward High School’s rendition of this classic tale was refreshing; the sets were colorful and represented the time period nicely. Although some mishaps occurred when it came to lights and sound, the design overall was executed quite impressively. The running crew was remarkable; each scene change was quickly accomplished and went by unnoticed. Audience members were brought back to the 1950’s as the students incorporated a projection of old cartoons during the television scene, ultimately creating a sense of nostalgia that radiated across the theatre.

It has been said that if you love someone, let them go. West Broward’s production of “Bye Bye Birdie” showed that some goodbyes are truly beautiful, leaving a mark on audience’s hearts for weeks to come.

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By Carlos Hernandez of Coral Glades High School

With intricate and fun-to-watch dance numbers, vibrant colors throughout the whole show, and captivating characters that were a joy to follow, West Broward High School’s production of Bye Bye Birdie made it difficult to avoid starting a fan club for the cast and crew.

Taking place in 1958, BYE BYE BIRDIE tells the story of an Elvis Presley-like superstar named Conrad Birdie on his last moments before he must join the army. Birdie’s agent and songwriter, Albert Peterson arranges for Birdie to give a lucky girl from his fan club a kiss to promote Birdie’s new song One Last Kiss, leading to several crazy situations. The lucky girl, Kim MacAfee, has recently gone steady with Hugo Peabody and Hugo is not happy about the kiss. Out of jealousy and rage, Hugo punches Birdie in the face on live television where the kiss was supposed to take place, causing mayhem for the rest of the show.

Colin Miller portrayed the part of Albert Peterson, who is too devoted to Conrad Birdie and his songwriting to see the love that his secretary, Rosie Alvarez, has for him. Miller did an outstanding job of showing his character’s development throughout the show to his audiences and demonstrated smooth vocals. The secretary, Rosie Alvarez, who is trying to catch the eyes of Albert, is played by Sarah Gorfinkel. Gorfinkel gave a highly memorable performance in the second act with intricate dance numbers and a drastic change in character from a quirky secretary to a fierce, Latin dancer. Gorfinkel also proved her vocal ability in the second act in several songs, such as Spanish Rose and the show’s sweet and final song, Rosie.

Moving the show along exceptionally well were Frankie Storfer and Jacob Dungan, who played the parts of Kim MacAfee and her jealous boyfriend, Hugo Peabody. Storfer gave the first act a boost with her song How Lovely to Be a Woman, where she showed off a superb vocal range and ability. Dungan, although not having a large part in the show, stood out to the audience with his dedication to his character. Dungan’s dancing and acting ability was truly a treat for the audience. Together, Storfer and Dungan progressed the show smoothly and showed a good chemistry on stage. Also noteworthy was Jorge Amador, who portrayed Kim’s protective father, Harry MacAfee. His comedic timing and energy added a great sense of humor to the show.

Although the music was too low in the first act, contributing to a low energy from the cast, the sound crew showed devotion to the show as the problem was fixed in the second act. The stage crew did an outstanding job, as they showed very smooth transitions between scenes.

West Broward High School’s production of the classic musical Bye Bye Birdie was notably fun to watch and listen to, as the cast and crew surely put a happy face on all of the audience members throughout the entire show.

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By Dylan Redshaw of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Have you heard about Hugo and Kim? Well, I heard they got pinned! Find out all of the stirring details at West Broward High School in their production of Bye Bye Birdie.

Bye Bye Birdie, with book by Michael Stewart, lyrics by Lee Adams, and music by Charles Strouse, is a satirical comedy based on American life in the 1950s. The adored show won Best Musical at the 1961 Tony awards and introduced many hit songs. Bye Bye Birdie follows the slick, rock & roll sensation, Conrad Birdie, when he is drafted into the army. Albert peterson, an aspiring english teacher and songwriter, is convinced he can win his girl, Rosie, and make a fortune by getting Conrad on the Ed Sullivan show to kiss a crazed teenage girl before he leaves. Chaos commences throughout the town of Sweet Apple, Ohio when Conrad comes to visit and the story unfolds further still.

The nervous, animated, Albert Peterson, was played by Colin Miller without flaw. Miller’s vocals resonated beautifully and his amiable presence illuminated the stage. Albert’s girlfriend and coworker, Rosie Alvarez, portrayed by Sarah Gorfinkel, was fully committed in her every scene, having a complete understanding of her bright character. Gorfinkel charmed with her phenomenal dance moves and amusing hispanic accent in her headstrong solo, “Spanish Rose”. Miller and Gorfinkel had a strong, genuine chemistry and by the end of the production, their relationship developed immensely.

Shea Kleinman thoroughly portrayed his role of the smooth, teenage heartthrob, Conrad Birdie. With his killer smile and distinct body language, Kleinman was truly enjoyable to watch. Frankie Storfer as Kim MacAfee, the obsessed fan that Conrad is assigned to kiss, expressed the character of a 1950s daughter admirably. Other commendable performances include Jacob Dungan as Hugo Peabody and Abby Dungan as Ursula Merkle, who always had fantastic emotions even when they weren’t the focal points.

Although at times the energy fell short, the cast as a whole provided satisfying dance numbers and pleasurable vocals in songs such as “A Lot of Livin’ to do”. The fanatic teen girl ensemble captivated with their clear-cut interactions and they never let their enthusiastic spirit falter. The technical components, such as makeup, sets, and lighting all contributed in making the show the best that it could be. The sound seemed to have slight trouble with the mics and a few cues, but the issues did not persist and the actors gave their greatest effort regardless.

Overall, West Broward High School’s Bye Bye Birdie successfully brought the audience back to the retro years with their tuneful performance.

Reviews of Legally Blonde at Cooper City High School on Friday, 3/4/2016

By Nya Hedman of South Plantation High School

Is blonde the new brainy? Just ask the cast of Cooper City’s Legally Blonde. With upbeat musical numbers and exuberant characters Legally Blonde takes you on a journey as one girl goes from spunky sorority sister to adorable academic.

Legally Blonde the musical was based on the book and movie of the same name. The music and lyrics were written by Laurence O’Keef and Nell Benjamin. The show opened on Broadway in April 2007. The story tracks Elle Woods as she follows her ex-boyfriend Warner to Harvard Law School.  Her time at Harvard brings new friends (and enemies) and guides her to find her true self.

The production was extremely fun conveying a euphoric attitude the entire audience could feel. The show featured many whimsical scenes, characters, and musical numbers that left the audience wanting more. The show did have moments where the energy dipped but the cast was able to pick it back up and come back stronger. The show featured real dogs as the pets of Paulette and Elle which was very unique for a high school production and added an extremely comedic aspect to the production.

The lead Elle Woods played by Rylee Kilman had a phenomenal voice that could belt, riff, and hit any note thrown her way. She almost never left the stage yet maintained her character the entire time. She not only could sing and act the part, but she could bend and snap like it was nobody’s business. Kilman brought the perfect energy to the extremely chirpy character yet was able to avoid overacting, bringing a natural ease to her performance.

The supporting cast featured a plethora of talent from hysterical hair dressers to Delta Nu sisters. Francesca Maurer as Paulette sang with a crystal voice that was absolutely stunning and had perfect comedic timing. Also, Aaron Schultz/Carlos/Hair Colorist played by Alec deJesus proved that you do not have to have a big role to shine. He had a terrific energy and was completely outrageous yet absolutely hilarious consistently through the show. The technical aspects of the show were nicely executed but did have some flaws. The sound was sometimes distracting due to microphone issues, and at times the lighting cues were off. However the make up was highly effective and allowed the cast to be seen under the stage lights

Ultimately, the show was very light-hearted and enjoyable to watch. This production truly taught not to judge a book by its cover and that everyone can accomplish whatever they set their mind to do, proving that blondes really do have more fun.

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By Tristan Hutchison of Cardinal Gibbons High School

An imaginary Greek chorus, a scandalous murder trial, and a whole lot of pink! Sounds like the ingredients of a classic in the making, right? Well, you’re close! It’s Cooper City High School production of Legally Blonde.

Legally Blonde originally opened on Broadway in April of 2007, with Music and Lyrics by Neil Benjamin and Laurence O’Keefe and Book by Heather Hach. After 595 performances, the musical closed in October of 2008. However, it continues to tour around the world and be revived to this day. Based on the novel by Amanda Brown and the 2001 film of the same name, the story follows Elle Woods, a sorority President at UCLA. After her boyfriend, Warner, breaks up with her for not being “serious” enough to fit into his life plans, she follows him to Harvard Law School to win him back. Elle soon realizes however, that she doesn’t need Warner and she’s much more then just a “dumb” blonde.

This production showed off a variety of talent from its young cast. Some stand out performances include, Francesca Maurer’s portrayal of Elle’s best friend Paulette. Maurer was a delight to watch on stage, especially during her songs “Ireland” and “Bend and Snap.” Maurer was always in the moment and was ready to make the audience laugh at any time.  Another wonderful performance in this show was that of Alec deJesus, who played a variety of characters including Aaron Schultz. deJesus really brought charisma and excitement to his roles. Especially, during his dance numbers, which were not only hysterical but also flawless. The final performance that really stood out was the Judge played by Jennifer Lopez. Lopez shined whenever she was on the stage. Whether she was delivering a line or showing off one of her sarcastic facial features, she really made the best out of the part she was given.

Technically, the show had a few challenges. There were several times when a character could not be heard or there was microphone feedback. At points in the show, the ensemble lacked emotion or seemed lost on stage. For the most part, everyone did a fantastic job.

All in all, Cooper City’s production of Legally Blonde was an exciting experience. It really showed you not to judge a book by its cover, because even sometimes the most absurd book may surprise you.

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By Mikayla Queeley of Dillard Center for the Arts

Legally Blonde is a musical that had music and lyrics written by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin and also a book by Heather Hach. The story is based on the novel Legally Blonde written by Amanda Brown and the 2001 film that is titled the same. Legally Blonde tells the story of “don’t judge a book by its cover.” The lead Elle Woods, is a California born, UCLA attending, perennially perky girl, who goes on a love born mission to attend Harvard University to follow after her ex-boyfriend, Warner, who breaks up with her due to her lack of ambition and his “plans”. As we follow Elle through her journey of Harvard we learn that there is way more than what meets the eye and love can come when you least expect it. She ends up solving a case on her own, proves she’s a worthy opponent, and finds love with the teacher’s assistant, Emmett. This show is a perfect example of perseverance, feminine strength and self belief.

Leading the show was Rylee Kilman playing the ditsy, optimistic, friendly, and determined Elle Woods. Kilman’s consistent energy and vibrant smile gave the uptown character lots of life. From the top of the show to the end of the show, The Delta Nu girls, were always in it to win it; showcasing their wonderful characterizations, constant show of love for their Delta Nu President Elle, and sassy yet tasteful attitudes, which was definitely shown in “Bend and Snap”.

Francesca Maurer played the role of Paulette with perfection; never once loosing character or the crowds attention. Francesca’s superb singing was more than just a treat to listen to throughout the evening. Although sometimes it was hard to hear actors without a microphone, the lines that were heard kept the audience rolling; especially in the enthralling song ,”There! Right There!”

There were many costume and prop changes within this show which is hard to pull off and this cast pulled it off almost effortlessly. There were a few moments where you could see the changed costume or prop being switched out or dropped onto the floor, which was distracting at times. One actor had many character changes and executed each character so well that you would forget he had two other roles. This actor’s name was Alec deJesus who played Aaron Schultz, Carlos, and the Hair Colorist. DeJesus undeniably stood out in each and every role he embodied, making a lasting impression with such little stage time; constantly bringing spunk and pizzazz to each scene and never upstaging the leads or what was happening in the story.

Although there were times where there was light  where it wasn’t needed, the lighting choices for the most part within the show were well executed; like in Paulette’s song, “Ireland” where the stage was lit with an envious green, giving the scene a homey and Scottish feel.

Cooper City High’s production of Legally Blonde definitely had me, “bending and snapping” all the way home!

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By Melissa Kean of Piper High School

Ohmigod, you guys! Pink becomes the new black in Cooper City High School’s production of “Legally Blonde”, teaching audiences that a book is so much more than its cover.

Legally Blonde opened on Broadway in 2007, receiving seven Tony nominations and ten Drama Desk nominations. This modern musical was based on the 2001 film and novel by Amanda Brown, eventually becoming a major hit for musical theatre lovers everywhere. With music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin and book by Heather Hach, Legally Blonde centers around the ambitious blonde president of UCLA’s Delta Nu sorority, Elle Woods. When Elle’s supposed love of her life, Warner, breaks up with her and makes her feel like she is not good enough for him, Elle sets on a journey following him to Harvard Law School, to prove to him that she can accomplish anything. Elle gets into Harvard with the help of her sorority sisters. Upon her arrival at Harvard, she meets a man named Emmett. Emmett, along with her hair dresser Paulette, helps her strive for the greatness they know she can achieve.

Playing the high spirited, leading feminist lady was Rylee Kilman, who brought life to Elle Woods with her likeable personality and remarkable vocal talents. Francesca Maurer, also known as the spunky, boisterous hair-dresser named Paulette, genuinely shined throughout the entire show. Maurer’s impressive vocal range and breath support as well as her dedication towards her character was truly something to be noted. Emmett, played by Sergio Owen, had a presence on stage that made audience members want to listen to what he had to say. His amiable personality allowed him to connect with the audience, and his chemistry with Elle remained consistent.

Sean Edelman portrayed the egotistical Warner, and charmed the audience with his believable characterization, ultimately making you love to hate the conceited character. Similarly, Vivienne, Warner’s bad tempered-girlfriend was played by Doni Rotunno. Rotunno had great character development, displaying that it’s never too late to become a better person. Caleb Polsky brought Professor Callahan to life with his stern personality and serious facial expressions, enthralling the audience with his mature voice.

The ensemble cast showed off their talents with high-energy throughout each musical number, and each member of the cast danced as if no one was watching. Although some characters lacked presentation and believability, the show overall was not one to miss.

The use of real dogs for both Elle and Paulette’s characters was a surprising challenge for a high school production, but Cooper City executed this factor nicely and put a smile on the audience’s faces. The lighting was pleasing, their use of colors added to the moods and tones of each musical number. The appealing costumes helped describe each character’s personality and was overall nicely designed. Although some set changes were performed slowly and could have been smoother, this did not take too much away from the magic that Cooper City brought to the stage.

Cooper City’s rendition of the well-known “Legally Blonde” was refreshing, the students managed to keep audience members feeling “so much better” with copious laughter, applause, and maybe even some tears along the way.

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Reviews of Annie at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High on Saturday, 3/04/2017.

By Kylee Hay of West Broward High School

With the adorable auburn curls and signature burgundy dress, “Annie” is back at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Set in Depression-era New York, “Annie” follows the story of an orphan desperately trying to find her biological parents and the people and obstacles she meets on the way. Annie eventually finds her family in the wealthy Oliver Warbucks and his secretary Grace Farrell. Brought to Broadway in 1977, the book by Thomas Meehan, and music and lyrics by Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin, became a hit. The show has won many Tony and Drama Desk awards and has become a classic.

In the title role of Annie was Ashley Paseltiner who brought charisma and energy to her role along with solid vocals and perseverance to overcome the many obstacles faced throughout the production. Alongside Paseltiner was Alex Wind playing Oliver ‘Daddy’ Warbucks. Wind brought impressive vocals and solid comedic timing to the show while maintaining the necessary emotion for some of the play’s not-so-happy scenes. Grace Farrell, played by Taylor Fish, was another solid addition to the show. Providing lovely vocals and characterization, Fish proved her role a definite necessity. Another bright spot in the show was Ethan Kaufman who played Rooster. He dominated the few scenes he was in and proved that you can be crucial to a plot even if you appear in a limited amount of scenes. Providing the necessary comedic relief for the show was Michelle Malove, playing Miss Hannigan, and John Barnitt, playing President Franklin Delano Roosevelt; both provided superior comedic timing that
is most necessary in a show such as Annie. Their excellent timing allowed them to land the laughs in just the right places.

The energy of the show seemed low at first, but by ,”Fully Dressed (Children)”, the cast elevated the energy. Some characters lacked emotional connection with other characters, however, overall the cast really immersed themselves into the childlike spirit and expressed the era of Annie. The actors experienced many distractions and obstacles during the show, however the actors overcame them with professionalism and persistence. At times, actors could not be understood due to microphone issues, but cast members compensated by projecting.

The costumes and makeup for the show accentuated the contrast between the two classes of 1930’s New York City, juxtaposing both the wealthy billionaires and the residents of the poverty plagued Hooverville. The choreography really captured the feeling of the period of the show, and the child-like spirit of Annie and her fellow orphans.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ performance of Annie was an overall excellent show that proves we should go through life with an optimistic, child-like spirit, and most importantly that the sun will always come out tomorrow.

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By Lauren Hutton of American Heritage School

Even in a country plagued by depression, one little girl wearing nothing fancier than a smile proved you can find happiness in the darkest of times. In a night full of high energy numbers, bold characters, and incredible talent, Marjory Stoneman Douglas put on a production of “Annie” you need to see “Tomorrow.”

Premiering on Broadway in 1977 and running for six years, “Annie”  was based on the popular comic strip “Little Orphan Annie” by Harold Gray. With music and lyrics by Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin respectively, the production won seven Tony Awards including Best Musical. The 1930’s story follows Orphan Annie as she fails to complete her dream of finding her parents, but finds an equally heartwarming connection with billionaire Mr. Warbucks instead.

The strong technical elements of this production allowed for a variety of moments to shine. From a revolving set that easily transitioned between the streets of New York City, a stingy orphanage, and the decadent home of Mr. Warbucks, to lighting that darkened in somber moments and shone red during a shanty town police raid, the atmosphere of every scene was successfully conveyed time and time again. The use of real dogs (and the flexibility of those handling them) as well as period-appropriate costumes, also helped build a consistently believable production.

Another high-point was the ensemble’s ability to bring a sense of cohesion and energy to every number of this show. From the orphan girls conveying a sense of sisterhood with one another in their rendition of “Fully Dressed”, to the sincere relationship between Annie and Mr. Warbucks, the dynamics between characters played a dominant role in creating the show’s resounding optimism. The cast also managed to work well together not only in executing the challenging choreography and difficult vocals with ease, but also in working together so as not to overcrowd the stage even with over thirty people dancing at a time.

Combined with a talented cast, several vibrant individuals elevated the show. Taylor Fish (Grace Farrell) brought a sophistication to every one of her scenes and actively engaged with others even when the spotlight wasn’t on her. Her subtle flirting with Mr. Warbucks, sincere affection for Annie, and commitment to every song allowed her to draw the audience’s attention throughout the night. Michelle Malove (Miss Hannigan) was also immersed in her character, and brought an entertaining, crazed presence to both dramatic moments and songs such as “Little Girls. ” John Barnitt as President Roosevelt provided incredible comedic relief, committing completely to his character – while in his wheelchair and out of it. He brought a sense of joy to the show. Ultimately, Ashley Paseltiner (Annie) did lead the musical with the poise and childish physicality necessary to carry the production, making it an incredibly lively and enjoyable experience.

With its high energy performances, seamless choreography, and powerful technical elements, there was a sense of joy in Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ “Annie” that truly captured the importance of unfailing optimism even in the face of adversity.

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By Nicole Sugarman of JP Taravella High School

Leapin’ lizards! The spunkiest red-head of them all is headed straight for Easy Street in Marjory Stoneman Douglas’s production of “Annie”. After seeing this heartwarming family classic, you can ‘bet your bottom dollar’ that you will ‘be fully dressed with a smile’ and exclaiming “Oh my goodness, oh my goodness!”

Created from a book by Thomas Meehan, music and lyrics by Charles Strouse, and Martin Charnin, “Annie” tells the story of a fiery young orphan who experiences a rags-to-riches transformation. She is suddenly plucked from the orphanage, run by the drunken and villainous Miss Hannigan, and swept away into the luxurious world of Mr. Oliver Warbucks, the billionaire. Based on the Harold Gray comic strip, “Little Orphan Annie”, this beloved musical debuted on Broadway in 1977 and ran for almost six years.

Playing the jaunty and streetwise title role, Ashley Paseltiner convincingly depicted this wide-eyed little girl through her sweet voice, never-ending optimism, and contagious smile. Paseltiner stayed in the moment without cessation, even as dogs barked and wheelchair malfunctions caused a President to dive offstage during her solo. Paseltiner completely captured the childlike essence of this young orphan girl and provided a concrete foundation for this show. Playing the confident and self-assured business man, Oliver Warbucks, Alex Wind exquisitely portrayed the age and persona of this character. Wind’s excellent portrayal of the character made him a clear standout in this production.

Taylor Fish, portraying the classy Grace Farrell, private secretary to Oliver Warbucks, perfectly captured maternal qualities as well as the acumen of a real business woman in this role. These attributes were showcased in numbers such as “I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here” and “You Won’t Be An Orphan For Long.” Playing the cruel and booze-loving Orphanage Director Miss Hannigan, Michelle Malove fully embodied this drunken woman through her incredible physicality and evident animosity for little girls. Melanie Weber, playing the youngest orphan, Molly, displayed the childish demeanor of this character through moments of panic, and sassy remarks to the other orphans and Miss Hannigan. Playing the hilarious and jovial 32nd President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John Barnitt brought additional humor to the production, conquering a minor wheelchair flub like a professional.

The ensemble in this production exhibited well-executed, high energy, and polished dance numbers. The melodious harmonies and lively facial expressions enhanced the numbers contributing to the busy city buzz in “N.Y.C”, and the true excitement circulating the mansion in “I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here”, “New Deal For Christmas”, and other numbers. Specifically, the orphans ensemble did an excellent job of portraying each character’s unique quirks and traits in numbers such as “Fully Dressed (Children) ” and “Hard Knock Life. ”

The costuming, hair, and makeup in this production befitted each character as well as the 1930’s era. The revolving set and beautiful backdrops allowed for swift scene changes and visually appealing scenery.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas’s hopeful and uplifting production of “Annie” reminded everyone that the hard knock life is only temporary and that the ‘sun’ll come out tomorrow’!

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By Quinn Devita of North Broward Preparatory School

Stick out your chin, and grin, and say you’ll be coming to Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ production of “Annie”! Written by Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin, “Annie” is the timeless tale of a young orphan searching for her long lost parents in the Big Apple during the 1930s. As we glimpse the city during the Great Depression we are introduced to the rich Mr. Warbucks who develops affection for the bright Annie during the holiday season. During this performance ‘you’ll be fully dressed with a smile’ as the actors take you back in time!

Leading the ensemble was Ashley Paseltiner as Annie, the hopeful orphan with a head full of curly red locks. Paseltiner interacted brilliantly with her fellow orphan girls and demonstrated strong energy throughout her performance while working proficiently with her furry co-stars. Alex Wind gave a strong performance as the famous Oliver Warbucks, a New York billionaire with a golden heart hidden behind his suit. Wind developed a natural connection with Annie and the rest of the cast while expressing emotions with impressive vocals.

Supporting the lead cast was Ethan Kaufman who was able to create a sleazy character while complementing his stage sister, Miss Hannigan played by Michelle Malove. Malove remained a comedic accent throughout the entire show and delivered an excellent performance as Annie’s bitter enemy. Taylor Fish portrayed Mr. Warbucks’ sweet and sassy secretary, Grace. Grace formed a meaningful connection with young Annie and demonstrated strong acting skills during her different interactions with fellow actors. Other standout performances included that of John Barnitt as the historic Franklin D. Roosevelt. Barnitt brought consistency to his character while utilizing his wheelchair as a strong comedic device that engaged the audience.

The cast kept incredible energy throughout the show while demonstrating natural chemistry, excellent dancing skills, and vocal harmonies. As a whole, actors worked together to bring the audience a fantastic production.

Supporting the actors were the many student-run technical elements. Specifically, Dylan Baierlein did an amazing job handling the large task of directing the show. Baierlein proved his firm dedication to this production as demonstrated through thoughtful staging and character work that was apparent throughout each scene. Furthermore, the costume team proved to have done an immense amount of research when selecting historically accurate costumes, which highlighted the characters personalities. In addition, Theresa Prayther supplied the show with smooth choreography that perfectly complemented the show. While there were a few issues with muffled microphones, the actors and crew were able to efficiently and effectively move forward.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ production of “Annie” was a clear example of excellent theater and had the same effect on everyone. Hopefully you’ll be going to their show ‘Tomorrow’!

*** *** ***

By Sydnie Rathe of American Heritage School

“Smile, darn ya, smile!” In Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ performance of “Annie”, smiles swept the faces of each audience member as they experienced these students’ energetic retelling of this American classic.

Premiering on Broadway in 1977, “Annie” the musical, is based on the comic strip by Harold Gray called “Little Orphan Annie”. With music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin, and book by Thomas Meehan, “Annie” follows the journey of a young red-headed orphan who dreams of finding her parents. The original Broadway musical was granted seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and has grown to be one of America’s most beloved tales.

Truly radiant throughout the entire production, Taylor Fish, portraying Grace Farrell, exhibited maturity and ‘grace’ well beyond any expectations of a high school student. Onstage, she appeared as a professional actress with life and energy, not to mention her stellar vocals. Opposite her, Alex Wind as Oliver Warbucks matched her level of excellence and filled the room with his smooth and incredibly rich voice. Ashley Paseltiner, playing Annie, developed her spunky character with a youthful charm that captured the members of the audience’s hearts.

Notable performances by John Barnitt as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Michelle Malove as Miss Hannigan, and Melanie Weber as Molly, all stood out in the context of the show and greatly contributed to the lighthearted nature of this particular production. However, every great production relies on a great ensemble, and this ensemble most certainly carried the show. Featuring full dedication to character by each of the 36 cast members (and 4 dogs), the ensemble was cohesive and maintained consistently engaged without distracting from the main action.

One of the most striking aspects of this show was that tech was almost entirely student-done. Direction by Dylan Baierlein was effective and impressive in his ability not only to manage the sheer number of people involved, but also in how smoothly he accomplished this daunting task. Additionally, the choreography by Theresa Prayther was inventive and extremely well-executed. Overall, while there was an occasional imbalance in sound between the actors and the tracks, tech was done professionally and truly aided the fluidity of the production.

While a few actors struggled with some of the more vocally challenging portions of the show, generally the vocals were strong and placed the cherry on top of this entertaining performance. In spite of a few minor details, this cast and crew of talented, dedicated students achieved greatness and ensured that not a single audience member would leave without an ear to ear smile.

*** *** ***

Reviews of Spamalot at NSU University School on Friday 3/04/2016

By Dominique Monserrat of Saint Andrew’s School

A spin off of the classic comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Spamalot, the 2005 Tony Award Winner for Best Musical, tells the story of Arthur, “King of the Britains” during the Middle Ages as he assembles the Knights of the Round Table in order to bring chivalry to Britain.  Together, Arthur and his knights, along with his trusty companion, Patsy, embark on a God-ordered quest to find the Holy Grail.  Along the way, they encounter showgirls, Not Dead Fred, a Prince longing for love, Taunting Frenchmen, the Knights of Ni, and of course, the Lady of the Lake.

The students of NSU University School did a spectacular job putting on a production of Spamalot.  A standout performance was Avrumie Tornheim, as Sir Robin.  From the moment Tornheim appeared on stage, his comedic timing and extraordinary facial expressions ensured that he commanded the audience’s attention.  In his big number, “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway,” he showcased his vocal range and his dancing abilities with mastery.

Several small groups used their time in the spotlight to really make the audience laugh–the French Taunters had one of the most memorable scenes, and Ben Crawford’s French accent was comical but understandable, unlike some others.  The Knights of Ni also did a fantastic job; their ridiculous antics, such as asking King Arthur to find a shrubbery, were absolutely priceless moments onstage.

In addition, Carlo Feliciani’s portrayal of Patsy was impeccable.  Feliciani was constantly engaged and involved in the action of the show, and his chemistry with Andrew Singer, as King Arthur, was hilarious.  The two bantered back and forth, and their song, “I’m All Alone” was absolutely hysterical.  Opposite Singer, as the Lady of the Lake, Michelle Langone shone–her incredible vocals stole the show every time she sang.  Her performance was full of the sass of a diva who longed for the spotlight.

The show itself ran relatively smoothly, with only a few minor bumps in the road, which the actors handled gracefully.  The crew deserves to be commended for quick set changes, and the actors for their many quick changes.  All of the actors also should be recognized for not being fazed by the several sound glitches, which could have been a much bigger disruption to the performance.

Sophie Septoff’s choreography was very creative and the ensemble, for the most part, pulled off some difficult numbers, though they could have been more cohesive while dancing, and some vocals were lost due to the intense focus on dancing.  The dancing was generally very impressive, though, and complemented the humor of the show.  Overall, the students of NSU University School had audience members laughing for the whole show, and were a stellar example of exceptional theatre.

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By Cristian Tello of Deerfield Beach High School

Grab your sword, put on your Crown, and mount your horse as you begin your journey in search of the Holy Grail. As NSU University School’s performance of Monty Python’s Spamalot will be having you looking for the grail inside of you. With comical wit and musical talent that will leave you in states of constant amazement and laughter.

Spamalot is the theatrical adaptation of Monty Python and the Holy Grail with both the script and lyrics written by Eric Idle. Much like the film it is adapted from, the play is a satire on that of Arthurian lore and legend as it details King Arthur and his knights as they journey in search of the Holy Grail. The musical starts with Arthur in search of knights and then proceeds with their quest into varied lands in search of the grail. This group of comical knights would run into a variety of colorful characters such as the Knights of Ni, Herbert, and the recurring Lady of the Lake. After the discovery of the Holy Grail the performance has an ending that can never be seen coming and is completely unexpected that is instantly hilarious.

This superb performance of Spamalot stood on pillars supported by amazing actors. Michelle Langone, playing the part of the Lady of the Lake, provided her tremendous voice to many key songs. “Divas Lament” really brought out her vocal range  and  showed the comical nature of her character. Avrumie Tornheim playing the knight Sir Robin provided his amazing tap dancing skills and vocal capability to the hysterical song “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway”. Another actor that can’t go unnoticed is Carlo Feliciani, in the role of Patsy.  Even though his character doesn’t Speak much, the few lines and songs he has in combination with his facial expressions will make you never take your eyes off of him.

Though the performance was spectacular,  there were very minor critiques that could be improved upon. The British accents of the actors were superb; however some characters were a little overbearing, making some dialogue difficult to understand. Also though not every actor had the same vocal ability, they were able to provide good delivery of  songs by singing within their vocal ranges.

The technical components of the musical were absolutely stupendous. The lighting of the performance was absolutely spot on with smooth transitions from scene to scene. The sound and microphone usage was superb, though there were occasional mishaps that were quickly attended to by the sound crew. The set pieces were cleverly designed as the knights are travelling through different lands and the idea of having roll-on sets and drop-in backgrounds helped the fluidity of the performance.

NSU University School’s performance of Spamalot held at the Silverman Auditorium at the Epstein Center is one that will definitely leave you in constant laughter. With incredible vocals and superb choreography in combination with excellent technical components, your journey for your grail will be one you won’t forget.

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By Gabi Simon  of Coral Glades High School

“Broadway is a very special place, filled with very special people, people who can sing and dance, often at the same time!” The same can be said about the wonderful cast and crew of NSU University School’s production of Monty Python’s “Spamalot.”

“Spamalot,” a musical comedy with book and lyrics by Eric Idle and music by John Du Prez, Eric Idle, and Neil Innes, premiered on Broadway in 2005 and had a successful run both on Broadway and the West End. “Spamalot” has won three Tony awards, including the award for Best Musical, and a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album in 2006. Based on the 1975 film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” “Spamalot” parodies the classic Arthurian tale through a series of eccentric characters and zany songs.

Leading the knights on their journey was King Arthur, played Andrew Singer. Singer demonstrated superb vocal ability in “I’m All Alone” and “The Song That Goes Like This (Reprise)” and expert comedic timing throughout the whole show. Singer embraced the exaggerated mannerisms that one would hope to see in such and over-the-top show. Supporting King Arthur, sometimes literally, was his lovable and goofy sidekick, Patsy, played by Carlo Feliciani. Feliciani gave a consistent performance and maintained Patsy’s quirks, such as his goofy grin, from curtain to curtain. There was good chemistry between Singer and Feliciani and one could clearly see the strong relationship between the two characters. Assisting Arthur and his knights on their journey, though mostly behind-the-scenes, was the Lady of the Lake, played by Michelle Langone. Langone won the hearts of cast and audience members alike with her dazzling voice in “Come With Me” and “The Song That Goes Like This.” Langone was not fazed by any microphone problems and gave a performance that would put divas, like Britney Spears, to shame. Sir Robin (Avrumie Tornheim) shone in the second act in numbers such as “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway” and “His Name is Lancelot.” Tornheim displayed exemplary comedic timing and admirable dance technique.

The ensemble as a whole was entertaining and added to the production. The ensemble was a bit out-of-sync at times and there were times that some ensemble members were not involved in the scene. For the most part, the ensemble shone in the big dance numbers such as “Knights of the Round Table” and “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway.”

Despite some microphone feedback, the technical aspects of the show were flawless. The show ran smoothly due to the stage management and the cues were clearly laid out in their scripts. Choreography by Sophie Septoff matched the pace of the show and worked well for the group of dancers in “Spamalot.” Props by Kalani Bankston and Madeleine Smith were well constructed and fit the time period. The makeup design showed a clear distinction between the peasants and royalty and stood out on characters like the Lady of the Lake. Projections by Matthew Goldberg were clean and clever, but lacked originality since most were from the original production.

NSU University School’s production of “Spamalot” is filled with wonderful talent both on and off stage. The cast and crew at NSU University School will have you “looking on the bright side of life” after seeing their production of “Spamalot.”

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By Sofie Whitney of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Welcome to Camelot!  Take a seat at the round table and don’t “Run Away!” until you see NSU University School’s hilarious production of Monty Python’s “Spamalot”.

“Spamalot” is a musical comedy based on the film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”.  With music by John Du Prez, Eric Idle, and Neil Innes, and lyrics and book by Eric Idle as well, “Spamalot” opened on Broadway in 2005, and went on to receive three Tony Awards, including Best Musical.  The show follows King Arthur and his knights on a great quest to fetch the Holy Grail.  As these “Knights of the Round Table” travel the land, they each encounter a few obstacles in their path that make for quite the interesting journey.

NSU University School’s production of “Spamalot” captured the true humorous essence of the story. Every actor in the cast seemed to have full understanding of the English humor of Monty Python.  The show is full of ensemble driven numbers, and boy did they deliver.  The ensemble had endless energy and a skillful group of dancers with never-ending facials.

Andrew Singer, as the fearless and daring King Arthur of Britain exhibited both commendable vocals and unconditional amusing characterization.  Singer’s comedic timing during interactions with his fellow knights was consistently spot on.  The lively and radiant Lady of the Lake was portrayed by Michelle Langone.  Langone’s angelic vocalization and priceless stage presence made for quite the noteworthy performance.  Her dynamic and dazzling rendition of “Diva’s Lament” left the audience wanting more.

The supporting cast of the show all possessed coherent and consistent British accents, as well as powerful energy throughout the entirety of the performance.  As Patsy, King Arthur’s trusty right-hand man, Carlo Feliciani created much of the hilarity of the production.  Each time Feliciani took the stage, he did it with animated facials and unbroken characterization.  Patsy’s chemistry with King Arthur added sincerity to Feliciani’s otherwise very nutty role.  Avrumie Tornheim, as the not-so brave, yet delightful Sir Robin, had a complete understanding of his character and all the quirks that came with it.  In the show-stopping number “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway”, Tornheim displayed admirable vocals and exemplary dance moves as he paraded across the stage singing about Jews.

Besides numerous microphone issues, the technical aspects of the show ran smoothly.  The crew conducted set changes that were quick and seamless.  The production was student choreographed by Sophie Septoff, who did a commendable job of creating moves that were both appropriate for each song, and highly entertaining.

“Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”, and maybe you will find something half as remarkable as NSU University School’s production of “Spamalot”.

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Reviews of Flowers for Algernon at Saint John Paul II Academy on Friday, 3/03/2017.

By Rebecca Correa of Archbishop McCarthy High School

“Intelligence and knowledge changed me,” ponders Charlie Gordon, a previously challenged man. Witness what else goes through Gordon’s mind by joining the cast and crew of Saint John Paul II Academy as they embark on the beautiful, yet tragic, journey of “Flowers for Algernon.” A show full of emotional challenges, abusive relationships, and impulsive decisions is brought to the stage of their Academy and is put to life in an unforgettable way.

Originally written as a short-story by Daniel Keyes,’ “Flowers for Algernon” flourished into a full-blown novel that was initially rejected by many publishers due to the tragic ending, but despite these troubles, Keyes was able to publish the novel in 1966. Some libraries banned “Flowers for Algernon” due to the sensitive content based around Charlie Gordon, a mentally challenged boy. As the story opens, Charlie is selected to take part in a surgical experiment, in which they increase his knowledge capacity immensely. After performing the surgery, Charlie became known as a “genius”, proving the experiment to be successful, and when a decline is observed in Algernon, the test rat, the show takes a dreadful turn.

Taking on the challenging role of Charlie Gordon was Coleton Santacroce. Santacroce demonstrated a notable contrast throughout his transitions of intelligence, which grew from the physicality and vocal register of a young boy to that of an intelligent man. Not only did Santacroce successfully differentiate the levels of his brain, but he also executed the foundation of his struggles very nicely. As his memories began coming back, Gordon remembers his Mother and Father, who were played by Brooke Purre and Carey Tarkinson; Santacroce took in the pain from viewing their decline of love and affection and performed it beautifully.

The commendable actress, Audri Harrypersad, who took on the role of Dr. Strauss, definitely left a memorable impact on the show. Harrypersad took in each piece of information that was given to her and reacted to it in an honest way. She put forth an organic performance that cared for the experiment and well-being of Charlie by not making any impulsive decisions, unlike Professor Nemur (Katrina Yba’ez). The contrast between their personas was very evident and created a chilling tension between the project partners.

Saint John Paul II Academy set a gloomy mood with their strategic use of their set and lighting. The strategy used behind the set was very intricate and well though out, as it moved based on the current intelligence of Charlie Gordon. As the lights gleamed down on the curtain to shadow Gordon’s family, an eerie feeling slithered through the audience, creating the proper atmosphere for the scene. Along with the success of lighting cues, the sound crew did a phenomenal job by allowing each breath of emotion to circulate through to the audience.

Overall, Saint John Paul II Academy took the well-known storyline of “Flowers for Algernon” and executed it in a commendable way by taking on the challenges it puts forth.

*** *** ***

By Andres Hernandez of The Sagemont School

To solve a maze is to delve into the human experience. In order to succeed, one must pick a path, accept mistakes, and move forward. Above all, solving a maze is about finding the light at the end of the tunnel, a theme which has been woven between the lines of Saint John Paul II’s intriguing performance of “Flowers for Algernon”.

From the page, to the screen, to the stage, the timeless narrative of “Flowers for Algernon” has spread across a wide range of media. Although originally conceived as a short story by Daniel Keyes, the stage play tells a similar tale of a young man named Charlie Gordon, who becomes the first human test subject of a revolutionary surgery to enhance intelligence. A thought-provoking story of ethics and the treatment of the mentally disabled, it is no wonder that “Flowers for Algernon” has become a true American classic.

The journey taken by Charlie Gordon is one of emotional complexity, and Coleton Santacroce stepped up to the plate to skillfully show the many sides to his character. Beginning as a mentally disabled young man and transforming into a full-fledged intellect, Santacroce gradually altered his speech and physicality to create a strong character arc. An interesting element to Charlie’s internal affliction was his battle with his younger self, portrayed by Blake Earl. A figment of his subconscious, young Charlie was a painful reminder of his troublesome childhood, and scenes between the two were revealing of the toll the experiment has taken on his psyche. A pivotal point in the show occurred when Charlie screamed to his younger self, “whose to say your light is better than my darkness?” At that moment, it became clear that Charlie’s newfound knowledge did nothing more than rob him of his youthful bliss.

Personifying the themes of morality and ethics were the doctors behind the operation. In particular, Audriana Harrypersad brought a keen sense of realism to the production as the passionate Dr. Jeanine Strauss. From her benevolent interactions with Charlie to the sleepless nights in her office, Harrypersad was able to demonstrate Dr. Strauss’ true values as a doctor. John Douglas also delivered a memorable performance as the quirky psychologist Burt Seldon. Always a welcomed figure onstage, Douglas’ precise diction and innocent tone contrasted well with some of his more solemn scene partners.

The cast collaborated collectively to execute lapses in time, as well as portray Charlie’s scattered memories of childhood. While some scenes felt a bit forced in terms of delivery and emotional commitment, every moment onstage was relevant and succeeded in advancing the plot line fluidly. The lighting staff should be credited for creating a clean design that, although simple, was effective in adequately illuminating scenes, as well as directing the audience’s focus. Also worthy of recognition were the vintage props. From an old-style typewriter to a massive tape recorder, the props were effectively utilized and an accurate reflection of the time period.

Much like the doctors in the show, the students of Saint John Paul II took a risk and brought light to an otherwise murky subject. The final result was a production rich with symbolism, and commendable efforts from the entire cast and crew.

*** *** ***

By Lauren Hutton of American Heritage School

With unexpected parallels between an extraordinary mouse and an individual deemed laugh-worthy by society, the harrowing journey of a man plagued by distressing memories and an IQ that leaves him feeling trapped were explored with sincerity and poignancy in Saint Paul II Academy’s rendition of “Flowers for Algernon.”

Based on Daniel Keyes’ award-winning 1958 novel of the same title, this play follows the life of Charlie Gordon, a loving and hardworking man who suffers from an intellectual disability. Playwright David Rodgers worked with Keyes to create this play, which kept the authenticity of the story and allowed for an easy transition between the forms of media to create something touching and thought-provoking.

Charlie undergoes an experimental surgery that aims to exponentially increase his intelligence. However, as Charlie’s IQ supersedes his emotional intelligence, his world deteriorates with a newfound understanding of the cruelty he has endured and a dark past he cannot seem to overcome. This journey leaves him with Algernon, the mouse who first endured the experimental procedure, as his only companion. When Algernon begins to regress in a frantic manner, Charlie knows his grasp on clarity may be rapidly slipping away.

There was a certain attention to detail in the technical elements of this production that created a believable and heartbreaking atmosphere. As Charlie grew to comprehend the world around him, a three-dimensional backdrop of a maze shifted from an illogical, impossible puzzle to a simplistic and conquerable symbol of understanding. In the second act, Charlie’s distressing reversion mirrored the maze as it once again became disjoined and irrational. Additionally, as Charlie regained memories of his childhood, the figures of his parents and sister appeared as terrifying shadows behind a screen. With further progress, his family members became very real, though equally troubling, visible characters. The props and 1960’s costumes also added to the authenticity of the show with period-appropriate consistency, and the inclusion of a video documenting Charlie’s growth during the climax of the production made a powerful statement on the dehumanizing nature of the experiment.

Ultimately, the impact of this show was only possible through Coleton Santacroce’s  understanding of his character, Charlie Gordon. The mannerisms of a friendly, though often oblivious man were perfectly conveyed throughout the show. His speech, which began fragmented and simplistic, seamlessly transitioned into that of a genius, spouting scientific theories with ease. On a deeper level, Santacroce also captured the emotional distress of Charlie’s evolution. His darkening personality, increasing frustration, and overwhelming fear were all conveyed intensely and tragically. Blake Earl, playing younger Charlie Gordon, also captured the distress of his character and acted as a haunting shadow throughout the show, refusing to leave older Charlie’s side.

As Charlie cries out towards the end of the show, “I am a person, too,” we see questions of humanity brought to light. Saint John Paul II Academy’s creative portrayal of “Flowers for Algernon” captured Charlie’s increased isolation and heartbreaking treatment in a way that was not only impressive, but also incredibly thought-provoking.

*** *** ***

By Brooke Whitaker of Archbishop McCarthy High School

“I am a human being, a person, and I was before you ever wheeled me into that operating room!” These words, spoken by Charlie Gordon, capture the ethical and moral dilemma at the heart of Saint John Paul II’s poignant production of Flowers for Algernon – how great of an effect does intelligence have in defining one’s self?

Charlie Gordon may only have an IQ of 68, but he’s kindhearted and fiercely devoted to learning – traits that cause his schoolteacher to sign him up as the first human test subject for a strange new experiment. Designed to rapidly improve intellect, this miraculous procedure has already made a lab rat, Algernon, a genius, and will supposedly give Charlie a normal life. Yet as his intelligence grows and the scientists learn the effects might not be permanent, the line between blessing and curse blurs, and Charlie finds himself struggling with emotional growth, understanding the cruelty of the world, and coming to terms with the actions of his family.

Stepping into the role of Charlie Gordon is no easy feat, and Coleton Santacroce tackled it with aplomb, crafting a sensitive, relatable character free of stereotypes. Tactful use of physicality and vocal differences allowed Santacroce to believably portray all the nuances of Charlie’s sudden transformation, and his dedication to character made his eventual end all the more heart wrenching.

As the team of scientists responsible for the experiment, Audriana Harrypersad (Dr. Strauss), Katrina Yba’ez (Professor Nemur), and John Douglas (Burt Seldon) did an excellent job in seeming older, burdened with the stress of their work. They had nice chemistry and played well off one another. Other actors, such as Blake Earl (Young Charlie) and Nicole Sous (Norma), only had limited stage time, yet made powerful use of it, contributing even further to the moving production.

In order to better represent the struggle Charlie is undergoing, the set designers decided to construct a large maze backdrop, one that was moved either closer together or further apart, depending on Charlie’s mental state. It was a creative addition to the show, and helped cement its central themes. Stage management and crew must also be commended for their hard work. Despite some distracting instances of crew coming on stage in full light, each change was remarkably quick and quiet.

When Daniel Keyes’s short story was first published in 1959, it gave a generation several things to think about – mental illness, human nature, love. As Saint John Paul II’s own production of the stage version demonstrates, these things are just as relatable and inspiring today. Every human being, regardless of intellect, has self-worth

*** *** ***

By Fiona Baquerizo of American Heritage School

What would it feel like to be superhuman? No, not with a cape and flying abilities, but with a greater mind than anyone to ever walk the earth. To know every language, every book, and every equation ever created are just some of the benefits. But are there any downfalls? For Charlie Gordon, there are. Saint John Paul II Academy’s production on Flowers for Algernon shone a light on these questions and more, exploring the risks of trying to change oneself forever.

First a short story by Daniel Keyes, Flowers for Algernon was adapted into a play by the original author and David Rogers in 1969. The show follows the incredible journey of Charlie Gordon, a thirty four year old man with the mental capacity of a third-grader. He, alongside the lab rat Algernon, becomes the subject of the world’s first study to augment an IQ to genius-level. However, his intelligence soon begins to outgrow his emotional development, and all things fall to pieces.

Actor Coleton Santacroce (Charlie Gordon) led the production with exemplary physical character development. His commendable vocal and physical transition from a mentally disabled man into a strong and grounded genius showed great maturity. Santacroce took charge on stage with energy that gave the show constant momentum. Supporting the production was actress Audriana Harrypersad (Dr. Strauss). She tackled the role, originally written for a male, by exploring nuances, adding depth to her scenes and character.

Featured actress Nicole Sous (Norma) brought a light honesty to the show whenever she walked on stage. Her chemistry with Santacroce (Charlie) made her stand out. Featured actor Blake Earl (Frank/Young Charlie) played two distinct roles, bringing comedic relief as well as dramatic intensity to the show.

Technically, the crew at Saint John Paul II Academy demonstrated wonderful creativity. The set team designed the backdrop of a maze that came together and fell apart in accordance to Charlie’s mental development and deterioration. The prop team gathered and utilized impressive pieces such as old recording devices, a typewriter, and a mouse cage. The technical crew was innovative, and their hard work was evident.

At many times, poor articulation made it difficult to understand the actors. Slowing down and truly listening to one another would have aided the scenes’ arcs. As well, some characters remained one-dimensional throughout the production. In a play written with magnificent depth, superficiality seemed out of place.

Despite these lapses, the cast and crew of Saint John Paul II Academy’s Flowers for Algernon came together to tell a story of self discovery and bring attention to the respect of the mentally challenged. While Charlie’s growth yielded success, it did not bring happiness. Trying to change himself did not work, but accepting his identity and having unconditional love triumphed in the end.

*** *** ***

Reviews of Smile at Coral Glades High School  on Saturday, 2/27/2016.


By Daniel Agmon of JP Taravella HS

smiklemdGiggling Girls in high heels, generously applied lipstick and polished nails, came together under dazzling lights, hoping to have one of the very best weeks of their lives in Coral Glades High School’s production of Smile.

Loosely based on the 1975 film with the same title, Smile debuted on Broadway in 1986 with music composed by Marvin Hamlisch, book and lyrics written by Howard Ashman. Smile, which received a Tony nomination for Best Book of a Musical, tells the story of several beautiful pageant contestants all dreaming to be crowned Young American Miss, and the high-spirited couple, Big Bob and Brenda Dicarlo Freelander, who manage the pageant.

Don Jeanis who portrayed the winsome Big Bob Freelander had a convincing stage presence and deeply resonating vocals.  The apprehensive Robin Gibson, depicted by Megan Begley, delivered many genuine moments and realistic emotions. Her authenticity was truly prominent and her down to earth manner contrasted well with the charismatic Doria Hudson, played by Haley Amann. Amann illuminated the stage, captivating with her praiseworthy vocals in difficult songs such as “Disneyland.”

Sophia Young conveyed the devoted Brenda Dicarlo Freelander with the utmost vivacity and exhibited a superb growth in character development while Eli Flynn was very amusing as the sassy choreographer, Tommy French. Gabi Simon stood out from the other contestants with her impeccable comedic timing and dazzling dance skills as the spicy Maria Gonzales. Samantha Gaynor, as Sandra-Kay Macafee, was also noteworthy.

Overall the ensemble led the production with their consistent, specific characterizations and superior energy. Harmonies and diction sometimes were lacking, but were more than compensated for by the passionate enthusiasm throughout the production, particularly in the song “Until Tomorrow Night.”

Stage manager, Kristen West, succeeded in smooth transitions between scenes and no mishaps were evident. Lights designed by Jamie Brothman set crisp moods and specifically exemplified the dramatic moments. The vibrantly colored costumes, designed by Haley Amann and company added depth to the time period, and were a master undertaking for such a large cast. The live orchestra was a welcome addition and never overpowered the actors.

Coral Glades High School ‘shined’ in their glowing production and showed the importance of always having a “Smile”.

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By Taylor Barth of JP Taravella HS

Charisma, talent, and infectious smiles, were only a mere few of the qualities Coral Glades’ cast of Smile displayed in this year’s Young American Miss pageant.

With music by Marvin Hamlisch and book and lyrics by Howard Ashman, SMILE is a musical based on the 1975 film of the same name. Smile is a backstage look at the cut-throat competition at the Young American Miss pageant in the 1980’s. When the day of the pageant has finally arrived, chaos erupts when someone hacks into the computer and projects scandalous pictures of one the contestants. Though SMILE was a “flop” on Broadway, Coral Glades spread a compelling message and taught that true beauty is not only on the outside.

As an ensemble, the cast performed very well together. Though a few moments of the show were sung off pitch and not in harmony, they were always together in every dance number and had beautiful vocal moments such as in, “Smile.”

Robin Gibson, the girl who is still unsure why she signed up for the pageant, was played by Megan Begley. Begley was endearing and had great comedic timing while writing to her mom about how unprepared she was for the pageant. Haley Amann as the southern belle, Doria Hudson, had dynamic character development, vibrant facial expressions, and vivacious energy. During her noteworthy solo, “Disneyland,” Amann showcased her broad vocal talent and commitment to her character as she sang her heart out about her pageant fantasy world. Respectfully, Amann and Begley had incredible chemistry together and were very believable instant best friends.

Sophia Young as the previous Young American Miss, Brenda Dicarlo Freelander, took control of every moment on stage with ease and a level of mastery. Young captivated her spectators with her beautiful and crisp vibrato and her elegant mannerisms. Her husband, Big Bob Freelander, depicted by Don Jeanis, spoke feverishly to Brenda about the chaos of the pageant and sang powerful solos. Maria Gonzalez played by Gabi Simon used every comedic quip to her advantage and was a highlight of the show. Not only did she dance gracefully while cooking guacamole for the judges, but she also was consistently engaged and energetic throughout the entirety of the performance; making her a stand out performer.

Tech Wise, the show ran smoothly. Costumes by Haley Amann and company were vibrant with color and the appropriate time period, which added a lot of personality to every character. Publicity by Samantha Gaynor was well executed and very detailed from the cast posting smiling “selfies” certain days of the week, to getting pictures of administration in tiaras and sashes. Having just put the show in the J.P. Taravella High School theatre that week, they overcame every challenge spectacularly.

With fantastic energy among all, Coral Glades truly did “Shine” and overcame all “Nerves” in their heartwarming production of Smile.

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By Morgan Wolfe of JP Taravella HS
Wardrobe, hair, then makeup. Most important of all, don’t forget to smile! Coral Glades High School presents an exciting production of Smile.  With a zany group of teenage pageant girls, vibrant costumes and angelic voices, audiences instantly believed they were really watching the Young American Miss Pageant.

Smile, originally a 1975 film, reached Broadway in 1986. The music for Smile was written by the famous Marvin Hamlisch, who was also the composer of A Chorus Line, in addition to many other classics. Though Smile only stayed alive on Broadway for 48 performances, it received Tony and Drama Desk Awards nominations.

Megan Begley and Haley Amann, who portrayed the characters of Robin Gibson and Doria Hudson, created the heart and warmth of the story. In the midst of the craziest of pageants, Robin and Doria find a way to build a real friendship despite starting as competitors. Begley, the story’s protagonist and pageant innocent, gave an honest performance and instantly captivated the audience with her sweet voice. She stayed true to her character throughout the entire show. Amann did a terrific job of keeping her southern belle aura, never once dropping her accent. And you could hear a pin drop as she sang the solo “Disneyland” in Act One.

While the contestants are the heart of the story, Sophia Young practically stole the show as Brenda Dicarlo Freelander, the former beauty queen who now runs the pageant. Young’s commanding presence made you believe she was twenty years older than the other actors and completely in charge. In fact, when mic issues occurred, it was Young’s strong, crisp voice that could always be heard. Don Jeanis also stood out as Brenda’s husband, Big Bob Freelander. The two created a very believable relationship.

Two standout comedic actors were Gabi Simon (Maria Gonzalez) and Eli Flynn (Tommy French). Simon played a pageant girl with a thick Hispanic accent who had a strange obsession with avocados. Simon possessed amazing stage presence as well as being one of the strongest dancers in the show. Flynn stole every scene he was in as the flamboyant pageant choreographer. Sassy and memorable, he left the audience laughing in every scene.

Technically, the show was close to flawless with the exception of some sound problems. The costumes added amazing elements to the show, as well as giving the audience an insight into some characters who didn’t drive the major plot. The student-created light plot complemented the show well, along with smooth set changes that seemed to happen when the audience wasn’t looking.

Smile does just what it sets out to do – it puts a smile on the audience’s faces throughout the entire show, even if the contestants aren’t always as happy on stage. Kudos to Coral Glades High School, and their first-time director, Sarah Amengual, for bringing the show to life and sharing it with local audiences.

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By Maya Quinones of Deerfield Beach High School
In the competitive world of beauty pageantry, sixteen gorgeous California teenagers fight to be crowned the next Young American Miss. Proof that beauty really does come from within is revealed in Coral Glades High School’s dazzling production of Smile.

From the men who brought you the Tony Award winning A Chorus Line and the beloved musical, Little Shop of Horrors, Marvin Hamlisch and Howard Ashman’s music and lyrics combine to make the hilarious comedy about the behind the scenes antics of beauty pageants. Based on the 1975 film by the same name, Smile made its Broadway debut in 1986. Although the show achieved minimal success in its premiere, it has become a favorite among High School Theatre productions.

Megan Begley plays the bookish and introverted Robin Gibson. Unsure about her place in the pageant world, Robin frequently doubts her ability to win. Through Robin’s fear of public speaking and awkward dance technique, Begley’s emotional performance transformed her into a true underdog. Doria, the ambitious Southern Belle, is played by Haley Amann. Determined to win the acclaimed Young American Miss title, Doria uses her charm and extensive knowledge of pageant history to climb the rhinestone studded ladder of success. Amann’s adorable southern twang and impressive vocal talent resonated in her solo “Disneyland,” in which Amann proves through an intimate and authentic performance that Doria is much more than a beauty queen. Sophia Young plays Brenda Dicarlo Freelander, the perfectionist pageant coordinator and former third runner-up at the national Young American Miss pageant. Young’s mature voice and devotion to her character guided the performance as Brenda frantically organizes the pageant, later realizing that her past will not hold her back.

Gabi Simon hilariously portrays the bubbly Mexican-American contestant Maria Gonzalez, her Latin accent and swift dance moves made the audience erupt into laughter whenever she waltzed onto the stage. Simon completely embodied the guacamole obsessed Maria, never losing her independent and jovial spirit. While sometimes difficult to understand, the ensemble of beautiful contestants all the way from El-Centro to Sacramento California maintained an exorbitant amount of energy in numbers such as “Shine” and “Smile.”

The set represented the American spirit, as dangling stars of red, white, and blue decorated the stage. Scene changes were quick and seamless, as bunkbeds and office desks were moved on and off stage by the efficient actors and stage hands. The lighting ranged from nervous reds to hopeful blues, spotlights hitting the actors perfectly. While some projections were faulty in alignment, the messages were clearly conveyed.

Coral Glades High School’s Smile reveals that there is more to pageant life than sparkly tiaras and aesthetic beauty.  It enforces the message that true beauty comes from being yourself and never losing your spirit.

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By Veronica Lempicki of Western High School

A glittering gown cannot always disguise a forced smile. With scandalous betrayals, wrenching losses, and genuine amity. Smile, written by Marvin Hamlisch and Howard Ashman, recounts the ugly and the heartwarming behind the scenes goings-on of a 1980’s beauty pageant. Coral Glades High School’s production of Smile is stock full of energy and emotion.

Sophia Young, portraying Brenda Dicarlo Freelander, the passionate pageant coordinator, proved a talent beyond her years. Young did not hit one imperfect note, her masterful vocals demanding attention and dominating the stage. Brenda’s husband, Big Bob Freelander (Don Jeanis), remained the constant voice of reason as Brenda goes into overdrive upon learning that the national chairman will be an attendee at the pageant. The chemistry between Young and Jeanis felt natural and believable. His booming voice commanding the stage, Jeanis proved an incredible vocalist. Superbly convincing, Sophia Young’s adroit portrayal of a thirty-five year old woman seemed no simple task, particularly as she was surrounded by actors and actresses whose roles depended greatly on their connection with and amplification of their own age.

Doria Hudson (Haley Amann), an experienced contestant with a troubled home life, proved a sympathetic and endearing character. Amann’s portrayal drastically exceeded typical high school standards. Her massively impressive consistency, believability, and powerful voice set her apart. Amann closed the show with a reprise of her solo, “Disneyland,” a heartfelt and poignant moment intertwining optimism and daydream.

The unlikely but tender friendship that arises between Doria and Robin Gibson (Megan Begley), felt organic and true. Gibson, having no previous experience with pageants, practically trips into the Young American Miss pageant by accident. While at first Gibson feels incongruous and insecure, Megan Begley artistically portrayed her character’s confidence development. Begley’s vocal performance mirrored her character’s growth, while in the beginning singing with a sweet and vulnerable tone, and later, powerfully and grandly belting long notes.

Dynamic and lively, the many pageant contestants breathe life and energy into the show. Each contestant had her own distinct and spirited characteristics. Gabi Simon, who played the ever-pleasant and guacamole-loving Mexican-American contestant, Maria Gonzalez, won the audience over with her comedic delivery and admirable dedication to her role. Even through a slight costume malfunction, Simon remained perfectly in character, maintaining her humorous rendition. Two other notably memorable contestants were Sandra-Kay Macafee (Samantha Gaynor) and Shawn Christianson (Cassidy Zafonte) and though their characters differed drastically; one quirky and peppy, the other cold and conniving, both acted with commendable conviction.

The student orchestra’s exemplary sound complemented the singers with precision. Attention to time-era detail in the costume and makeup design added an impressive believability to the performance.

Immensely entertaining and just downright fun, Coral Glades’s production of “Smile” leaves audiences beaming with a lasting smile all their own.

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Reviews of the performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Boca Raton High School on Saturday, 2/27/2016.


By Nick Lopez of Cypress Bay High School
Country hoedowns, island calypsos and Elvis – no, this is not the set-list for a Las Vegas variety show, but rather a glimpse of Boca Raton Community High School’s rendition of the Old Testament in their latest musical production of Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. At the hands of a vibrantly talented cast, this charming spectacle truly transcended ancient scriptures and lit up the theatre as Boca Raton tapped and belted their way through a timeless tale with riveting energy and finesse.

Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s earliest works, with the original West End production premiering in 1973 before opening on Broadway in 1982. This completely sung-through musical tells the Biblical story of Joseph, who has the ability to interpret dreams. After his brothers fail to kill him in a fit of jealousy, Joseph ends up as a servant to the Pharaoh and his powers are put to the test to determine the fate of all of Egypt.

The success of this production rested on the fantastic dedication displayed by the entire cast and ensemble – the vivacity and colorfulness of the show’s visuals seemed like mere extensions of the performers’ own enthusiasm. A strong, unanimous commitment to the show’s campiness highlighted both the comedy and playfulness in the music; this immersion helped off-set enunciation issues by some actors, which sometimes interfered with the clarity of the plot. The ensemble sounded and moved beautifully, with dynamic and difficult dance sequences executed with precision, cleanliness and vigor.

Trevor Wayne drove the production with a passionate performance as Joseph. Wayne exuded charisma and likability, creating resonating depth in the titular character while simultaneously showing powerful vocal command of demanding songs such as “Close Every Door.” Hayley Adams, Katlyn Gatti, Valeria Castano, and Channing Ramsey commendably navigated their way through similarly difficult solos as the four narrators of the story, while the group of eleven brothers delivered consistently entertaining numbers that offered both irresistible comedy and vocal splendor. In particular, Alec Taylor boasted hilarious characterization as Reuben in the country ballad “One More Angel in Heaven”.

Boca Raton’s stage crew executed complex maneuverings of elaborate set pieces with fluency and efficiency; this, along with a captivating system of projections and a festive costume design truly allowed the whimsicality of the music to manifest visually on stage. Although it was sometimes difficult to hear the ensemble in several group numbers, Boca’s excellent orchestra did well  to keep a continuous balance with the on-stage vocals.

It was red, and yellow, and green, and brown –  and many, many other colors, but mostly, Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was an unforgettable display of a cast’s energy and commitment. This feast for both the eyes and the ears had the audience at times cackling, at times humming infectious melodies –  and at all times marveling at the talent of Boca’s animated performers as they told a story of family, resilience, and redemption with an enthusiasm of biblical proportions.

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By Amanda McCabe of North Broward Preparatory School

Boca Raton Community High School’s production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” was energetic, inspiring, and exciting. The musical was written by Tim Rice and composed by Andrew Lloyd- Webber.

The musical is a rock opera and is entirely sung through without spoken lines. The show begins with the narrator introducing Jacob and his twelve sons. All of the brothers seek their father’s attention but are jealous because Joseph, Jacob’s favorite son, receives all of it. Joseph also tells the brothers that one day, they will bow to him. They are so enraged by the idea that, when Joseph receives the dreamcoat with its many colors, the brothers hatch a plan to get rid of Joseph and just as they are about to leave him to rot in a well, a slaver comes by and the brothers sell Joseph. Joseph becomes a slave for Potiphar and is quickly promoted because of his work ethic. When Mrs. Potiphar tries to get into a relationship with Joseph even though Joseph fiercely denies her, Potiphar finds out and Joseph is put in jail. There, he meets a butler and a baker. He interprets their dreams and quickly becomes famous for always being correct in his predictions. When the Pharaoh ultimately finds out, Joseph is brought before him and saves Egypt from a famine. When the eleven brothers, starved and weak, beg Joseph for food, he does not know if he should reveal himself as their brother or remain the Pharaoh’s right hand.

Trevor Wayne (Joseph) gave an entrancing performance of both heart and incredible vocals. He truly committed to his part and had incredible stage presence. Alec Taylor (Reuben) added a bright spot to the stage with his incredible energy, dancing and commitment. Valeria Castano (Narrator) had a beautiful, powerful voice that commanded the attention of the stage when she was singing.

Robert Mendonca (Pharaoh) did a very good Elvis-impersonation and he was a very convincing performer. Channing Ramsey (Narrator) had a beautiful voice and her grace on the stage was impressive. Allegra Mannarino (Mrs. Potiphar) was an incredible dancer and actress who truly committed to her movements.

The set was incredible and the tech crew was seamless in their movement of set pieces. The projections and the lighting added to the overall performance. The colors of the costumes were beautiful and showed that the costume designers had a true grasp of the time period and culture of the show. The coordinating between the costumes of the brothers and their wives was also very appealing. The ensemble harmonies were incredible and the cast and crew worked together very well.

Some actors had difficulty with diction during their songs and words were lost to the audience.

Boca Raton Community High School’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” was an incredible performance and an exciting show!

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By Aysha Zackria of NSU University School

When all hope seems to be lost, pick a goal, dream, or wish and use all of your strength to make it come true. Boca Raton High School’s production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” tells the story of how this simple action can have the most awe-inspired impact.

Joseph, favored and given a beautiful coat by his father and wronged by his eleven brothers as a result, endures many hardships, but his ability to interpret dreams causes the pharaoh to notice him. When his brothers come to him asking for food, they do not recognize him and Joseph is forced to decide whether to forgive them or seek revenge. With music by Andrew Lloyd-Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, this production based on the Biblical story of Joseph was originally written as a 15-minute cantata for the Colet Court School in London in 1968. After its premiere, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat underwent a large series of changes before opening on Broadway in 1982. Since then, it has been nominated for 6 Tony Awards, 3 Drama Desk Awards, and 7 Laurence Olivier Awards, one of which it won.

Trevor Wayne, playing Joseph, had a magnificent presence that made him the focus of attention in every number. His physicality and conviction conveyed both power and humbleness. Wayne’s strong voice and impressive vibrato enhanced the grandeur that the music was written to have, especially in “Close Every Door” and “Any Dream Will Do”. His crisp diction ensured that every word he sang was easily understood.

Alec Taylor, as Reuben, portrayed a backstabbing, yet lovable, brother with exaggerated facial expressions and a comical country accent in “One More Angel in Heaven”, in which Joseph’s brothers are pretending to grieve him, but when their parents leave, begin celebrating. During that celebration is a tap routine, which Taylor executed flawlessly. Valeria Castano, one of four actresses splitting the role of Narrator, drove the story forwards with elegance and grace, while still providing the large voice required for the role. Robert Mendonca, as Pharaoh, had a hilarious physicality that perfectly fit his Elvis-like character, especially in “Song of The King” when he describes his revealing dream. Joseph’s brothers all had consistent mannerisms that conveyed their manliness in “Those Canaan Days”.

The costumes in this show not only unified groups of people and completed the Middle Eastern aesthetic of the show, but also provided a fantastical color scheme. Joseph’s brothers and their wives donned outfits with matching colors, which made character identification straightforward. Lighting contributed heavily to the atmosphere of each scene. Examples of this would be the single off-white spotlight on Joseph during “Close Every Door” or the colorful flashing lights behind the cyclorama during “Joseph Megamix”. Projections done on a large book in the beginning and on the sphinx in the end were placed and timed very well.

This wonderfully zany production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” teaches the lesson that everyone needs something to believe in and “any dream will do”.

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By Maya Quinones of Deerfield Beach High School
If you have an hour or two, Boca Raton Community High School’s magnificent production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber classic “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” is well worth your time. Step back many centuries ago into a world where dreams come true.

From the man who has paved the Great White Way with countless Tony award winning musicals including “Phantom of the Opera’ and “Jesus Christ Superstar”, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s timeless “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” has delighted audiences of all ages for decades. The performance tells the beloved biblical story of Joseph, the favorite of his father Jacob’s twelve sons. When Jacob gives Joseph an extravagant coat of every shade, hue, tint, and color, Joseph’s brothers plot to get rid of him in a fit of jealousy. After his brothers sell him into Egyptian slavery, Joseph must rely on his unique ability to interpret dreams to survive. Leveraging every musical style from country-western to jazz, including a straight up Elvis impersonation, the production is a delightful mixture of musical styles from past to present.

Trevor Wayne completely embodied the role of Joseph, his vocal talent and devotion to his character anchoring the production. Imprisoned by his master Potiphar, Joseph contemplates his existence in his powerful solo “Close Every Door,” expertly carried out by Wayne. Never missing a beat, Wayne brought authenticity, humor, and wonderment to his role. The talented voices of Channing Ramsey, Haley Adams, Kaitlyn Gatti, and Valeria Castano narrated the production. All four were strong vocalists, describing Joseph’s journey from start to finish, providing a solid foundation of storytelling for the entire performance.

Joseph’s eleven brothers appeared in a cohesive ensemble multiple times throughout the production. Their strong voices, animated expressions, and abundant energy brought constant laughter and delight to the audience. Simeon, played by Alejandro Estevez, provided an impressive French dialect in the hilarious number “Those Canaan Days.” Alec Taylor and Benjamin Tharrington donned cowboy hats and southern twangs for “One More Angel,” a country-western number combined with a professionally executed tap routine. The entire cast of this production never lost focus or energy, dancing in near perfect unison in countless elaborate routines.  While sometimes difficult to understand, the talented voices of the ensemble came together in a powerful harmony.

Upon entering the auditorium, the audience is presented with the production’s first technical feat. An enormous book stands open center stage, pages of Genesis and quotes from the likes of Walt Disney to Shakespeare projected onto its pages. In one swift motion, the book glides off stage to reveal Joseph for the first time. Perfectly aligned projections aided in portraying different locations, from Joseph’s sandy home in Canaan to his dismal jail cell in Potiphar’s palace. The lighting assumed every color of Joseph’s coat, shrouding the stage with bright hues. Microphones were consistent and costumes  were well fitted and appropriate for the time period.

Boca Raton Community High School’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat provides a enjoyable theatrical experience with a powerful message; Any Dream Will Do.

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By Erica Merlino of The Sagemont School
To come out of Boca Raton Community High School’s production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” without humming the music (or wishing you could tap dance) is impossible. A production exploding with color, outstanding ensemble numbers, and remarkable characterization and vocal ability, this through-sung musical is guaranteed to dazzle you.

“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, is based on the biblical story of the “coat of many colors.” Beginning in 1969 as a concept album, it was first performed in the late 1970’s at the Queen’s Theatre of London. With such a beautiful storyline, the exploration of universal themes, and the fun, catchy musical numbers, it’s no surprise that over 20,000 amateur theatre groups and schools have successfully put on productions since then. However, Boca Raton Community High School’s version was so creative and impressive, it left a memorable impression on all audiences alike.

One might not able to carry a titular character with such ease. However, Trevor Wayne stepped up to the plate brilliantly and carried the production with a riveting performance as Joseph. Acting as the spine of the show, Wayne kept consistent level of energy and motivation that carried through audience through the severe character arc Joseph undergoes. His strong stage presence consistently commanded everyone’s attention, even if he was not speaking or being spoken to; and his beautiful vocal ability served as a “cherry on top” of his already magnificent performance.

The narrators of the production each gave a stunning performance and served as the glue that held all the production’s many elements together. Typically performed by one actress, this production split up the role into four extremely talented young women. Hayley Adams, Katlyn Gatti, Valeria Castano, and Channing Ramsey each portrayed impressive vocal ranges while maintaining a consistent story-telling persona a narrator must upkeep.

The entire cast must be applauded for incredibly preserving extremely high energy for the entirety of the show and the complete ability to stay in the moment at all times. The entire ensemble was all so talented – the ensemble performances, all with beautiful harmonies and intricate choreography were a few of the many highlights of the production. A group that stood out deservingly and with much avail, was Joseph’s brothers. Each character understood their comedic moments – without overstepping – as they were able to display in their song, “These Canaan Days.”

The dynamic stage design was interesting and kept the audience enthralled at all times. The use of projection was a creative choice, and a very intelligent choice at that. It gave the set up another layer of awe and was a spectacular feature. Also, the costumes were a stunning factor – the use of color was extremely skillful and meticulously thought out. The only way the production could’ve been enhanced would derive from a combination of the actors’ improvement of diction and an improvement of the mics used, as some songs were affected by not being able to understand individual lyrics.

A colorful production (yes, pun certainly intended), “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” was a superb testament to the biblical story. Each character should be proud of their astounding performances, and they each deserve a technicolor dreamcoat of their own.

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Reviews of In the Heights at Boca Raton High School on Friday, 2/25/2017.

By Alex Wind of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High

Welcome to Washington Heights! Grab a coffee at Usnavi’s bodega, try a new style at Daniela’s salon, go dancing at the local club, and if you need any help with directions, Rosario’s taxi service is always here to help. While you’re visiting, why not check out Boca Raton Community High School’s production of “In The Heights”!

Over the course of the Tony Award-winning musical “In The Heights”, journey through a day in the life of the many colorful residents of Washington Heights — a New York City neighborhood on the brink of change. Usnavi, a first generation Dominican-American and corner bodega owner, and his friends and family struggle with the pressures of rising rents and closing neighborhood businesses. As one family scrambles to pay for their brilliant daughter’s Ivy League tuition, another young woman is trying to put a down payment on her new apartment, and Usnavi himself is desperate to get back to the Dominican Republic to reconnect with his roots after the death of his parents. Throughout the show, we see the residents of Washington Heights grapple with love, lust, identity and racism, all while the prospect of a winning lottery ticket hangs in the air, potentially changing the livelihoods of the people and their community forever.

Alec Taylor (Usnavi) excelled with suave and comedic rap delivery and a palpable energy onstage that consistently supported the cast throughout the show. Taylor drove the production as the real heart of the musical, and his chemistry with every character was undeniable. Taylor and his love interest, Valeria Castano (Vanessa), had especially great rapport. Castano’s harsh realism as Vanessa grounded the rest of the characters, mesmerizing the audience with her polished, powerhouse voice.

Channing Ramsey (Nina) embodied the hardworking Nina in every conceivable aspect, from line delivery to posture. Benjamin Tharrington (Benny) not only had great comedic timing, but also was able to capture the more serious elements of the production with ease. Ramsey’s and Tharrington’s vocals blended beautifully in the songs “Sunrise” and “When You’re Home,” adding to their spark. Erica Gibson (Abuela Claudia) immaculately exemplified the matronly figure of the barrio. Her presence was so large that her spirit still seemed to linger during the performance of “Alabanza” at her funeral.

Bianca Mota’s (Daniela) strong portrayal of a gossipy salon owner remained consistent throughout the show, maintaining character even when she wasn’t the focus of the scene. Aided by Christina Lorenzo (Carla), the pair never failed to reap laughter with their shenanigans. Another hilarious actor, Karlo Buxo (Sonny), used his diction and impeccable comedic timing to create an adorable goofball in his role.

The multi-purpose and student-made set was not only constructed beautifully,  but also used to perfection. In addition, the lighting adequately conveyed the mood of whichever scene was occurring. The glow emanating from the backdrop of the George Washington Bridge brought a significant feel of realism to the show.

Full of life, authenticity, and hope, “In The Heights” finds its “home” at Boca Raton Community High School.

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By Aaron Avidon of West Boca High School

The students at Boca High do an expert job of bringing Lin-Manuel Miranda’s tale of struggle, community and love to life in their rendition of “In the Heights.”

The first thing to take notice of is the beautifully designed set. Both sides of the stage are blazoned in graffiti, fire escapes, and brick walls, looking just like a city street in the heart of New York City, with the addition of subway entrances to further immerse you in the story. Another tech element that sticks out is the beautiful lighting design. The use of different hues and colors perfectly conveys the varying moods throughout the show, be it the bright red to create an almost authentic heat, or the simple spots spread across an almost totally dark stage to create tension and suspense during a city blackout. Along with authentic and age-appropriate makeup and hair, and trendy and modern clothing serving as the costumes, it felt as though i was actually walking among the citizens of Washington Heights.

Of course, the tech is only half of this full package, with the other half being the incredibly talented cast. Leading the pack is Alec Taylor, playing the role of Usnavi, the passionate protagonist and owner of the local convenience store. In the role, Taylor easily glides through the intense rapping present in the show’s music, and despite some difficulty with the sound, as quick witted rhymes can be difficult to make out in the heat of a scene, he has no trouble conveying genuine emotion and an organic feeling of love for his city and home. Beside Taylor, Channing Ramsey pulls off a stunning showcase of singing and acting in the role of Nina, the Stanford dropout only wanting to make her parents and community proud. Ramsey, despite suffering illness and injury, has no problem moving around the stage flawlessly, and sings incredibly emotional and heart wrenching numbers without skipping a beat. Standout solo, “Breathe”, had me hooked from the first note.

Along with these powerhouse leads, the supporting cast also does a standout job. Benjamin Tharrington, playing the role of Benny, lends his voice and charisma to an emotional and fun performance, being able to swing from happy-go-lucky to distressed and beaten without hesitation. His stage chemistry with Ramsey in duet numbers like “When You’re Home” can’t be ignored. Val Castano was a burst of energy as Vanessa, the fiery employee of the local hair salon. Her astounding voice is often the forefront of large ensemble numbers, and her solo in “96,000” was absolutely striking.

Overall, Boca High’s rendition of “In the Heights” is truly something to behold. Through incredible technical aspects, beautiful singing, acute and authentic dance, and bombastic acting from every cast member, the story of love and unity in the face of struggle and hardship will definitely have you invested from start to finish.

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By Andres Hernandez of The Sagemont School

Lights up on Boca High, where the streets are alive and people strive to thrive living their lives. The salon girls open shop, and everybody stops to hop over and buy a treat from Piragua Guy. Usnavi unlocks his door to open up his store, and everyone swarms in (it’s a snack they’re looking for). The George Washington Bridge towers over the town, reminding everyone to look up and never down; to stay strong and believe through all the sleepless nights, and to head over to Boca High to witness “In the Heights!”

Created by the ingenious Lin Manuel Miranda, “In The Heights” transports audiences back to his childhood stomping ground of Washington Heights, New York, where a tight knit family of locals work to stay afloat through the struggles of everyday life. Personifying the meaning of love and sacrifice, each character discovers something new about themselves as they open their hearts to one another. Featuring a spicy latin score and numerous show-stopping numbers, it is no wonder “In The Heights” earned four Tony Awards and has become a musical classic.

Setting the city in motion is Usnavi (Alec Taylor), the quirky bodega owner with big dreams of one day returning to the Dominican Republic where he was born. Taylor brought endless energy to the role and created authentic relationships with the other characters. Equally commendable was his ability to tackle the difficult rap verses while maintaining clarity and strong diction. His relationship with Vanessa (Valeria Castano) was especially intriguing, as the two shared some beautifully sincere moments onstage. Castano herself gave the role of Vanessa the perfect dose of latin flare. In songs such as “No Me Diga”, Castano impressed with her stunning vocals and sky-high belting notes.

Adding another dimension to the production were the stellar featured performances, most notably Bianca Mota as Daniela and Sven Ballarte as Piragua Guy. Mota served up sass on a silver platter as the outrageous Daniella. Her hilarious portrayal of the opinionated hairdresser was just the right amount crazy, and even the scenes where she lingered in her salon were well executed. “Piragua! Piragua! Que calor, que calo-o-or!” Sven Ballarte got the party started as the infectiously positive Piragua Guy. With strong vocals and fiery dance moves, Ballarte brought life to the stage whenever him and his cart rolled by.

A true ensemble effort, the entire cast should be commended for executing fast-paced choreography in a variety of numbers. The song “96,000” was impressive both vocally and physically, as the cast sang and danced about what they would do if they won the lotto. Cleverly designed, the beautiful set allowed for the cast to enter and exit the stage from numerous locations, making the city seem bustling with citizens passing along the streets. The lighting was an excellent compliment to the set, playing with different hues and spotlights to help the audience focus on specific moments and characters. Although faced with minor mic issues, the cast handled them professionally and made sure they did not hinder the performance.

A show about culture, family, and learning to reach for the stars, “In The Heights” is a love letter to the dreamer in all of us, and Boca High successfully conveyed that message. With a dedicated ensem

*** *** ***

By Amanda Ribnick of Cypress Bay High School

Boca Raton High School’s production of the broadway musical “In The Heights” sent fireworks flying off of the stage. Between the high energy hip hop dancing, innovative usage of set pieces, and perfectly placed harmonies, the cast brought us to el Barrio to show us “what it’s like in the life of Washington Heights”.

Growing up in Washington Heights, Lin-Manuel Miranda, the writer of the show, was able to take what he perceived day by day and transform it into one of Broadway’s best hip hop musicals. Written initially in 1999, “In The Heights” was presented at the National Music Theater Conference in Waterfield, Connecticut in 2005. It then opened at the Off-Broadway 37 Arts Theater in 2007 before premiering at Broadway’s Richard Rogers theatre in March of 2008. Running on Broadway from 2008-2011, this musical won a variety of awards ranging from a Grammy as well as 4 Tony Awards including Best Musical.

Leading the show, Usnavi (Alec Taylor), the owner of a small bodega, was very charismatic, always illustrating different relationships with everyone he interacted with on stage. He had incredible control over his diction which was crucial to the understanding of his upbeat raps. He and his hilarious cousin Sonny (Karlo Buxo) shared a wonderful bond on stage, demonstrating both the sarcastic humor they share as well as their brother-like bond.

Vanessa (Valeria Castano), Usnavi’s love interest, caught eyes the moment she struted on stage. Her powerful voice commanded attention during her song “It Won’t Be Long Now”, which featured some incredible dancers who complimented her quite nicely. She works at the salon next to Usnavi’s bodega with Daniela (Bianca Mota) and Carla (Christina Lorenzo), who are hysterically snarky gossips. Whether they were singing together or sassing each other, the trio never failed to entertain. Two other notable characters include Graffiti Pete (Allegra Mannarino) and Piragua Guy (Sven Ballarte), who lit up the stage whenever they were present.

The cast exhibited true cohesive unity during the song “96,000”. Easily one of the most difficult songs vocally in the entire show, the cast’s energy was through the roof considering the complex hip hop dance moves that were performed by the ensemble during the song. The set was beautifully crafted, having multiple levels that were used throughout the show. The cast also manipulated stairs in various numbers, which always provided a novel twist to the performance.

Certain performers did not command the stage as well as others. There were some difficulties with mics either not working or being imbalanced in volume, especially during group numbers. Although this hurt the production’s value, the actors on stage pushed through these roadblocks and proved to shine despite them. Because certain songs were cut from the production, the pacing of the show was a little fast at times, which slightly hindered the building of relationships between characters as well as the audience.

Despite certain setbacks, the cast put on a great performance overall, reminding us that sometimes we need to accept help, sometimes we need a minute to breathe, and sometimes, we need to remember to enjoy every simple moment, to treasure the little things, and to remember how far a little patience and faith can bring us.

*** *** ***

By Maya Quinones of Deerfield Beach High School

Amidst the nationwide adoration of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton,” it’s easy to forget where this famed composer, lyricist, and actor found his footing. In 2008, Miranda brought Broadway a different story about the “greatest city in the world,” set in the predominately Dominican-American neighborhood of Washington Heights. Now, almost ten years later, Boca Raton Community High School steps out of South Florida, and “In The Heights” with their production of Miranda’s first immigrant story.

The winner of four Tony Awards, including Best Musical, In The Heights celebrates Latino American culture through the close knit community of Washington Heights. From the underrated punk graffiti artist to the selfless grandmother, everybody knows everybody here and everyone is family. Usnavi seems to notice everything, and has a lot to say about it. An orphaned Dominican with a killer goatee, Usnavi (Alec Taylor) talks fast and falls in love even faster, his pride for his city fueling his commitment to his little bodega. When Usnavi discovers he’s sold a winning lottery ticket, his dreams spread quicker than the gossip in the hair salon.

It was obvious that Taylor had done his research and practiced his lip trills in preparation for this massive role, as he not only embodied Usnavi, but also the charisma and cadence of Lin Manuel himself, the originator and creator of the role. Taylor’s performance anchored the production. He captured the audience with flawless Spanglish rap, and provided a consistent foundation throughout the show.  Usnavi’s terrific rap is only matched by the captivating belt of his sweetheart, Vanessa. Played by Valeria Castano, Vanessa dreams of moving downtown away from her sordid past, but is struggling to find the means to get there. Castano’s strong vocal power coupled with her fiery dance skills supported a simple wish, to get out and move on.

Usnavi’s bodega is the hot spot for the best caf’ con leche in town, and doesn’t prosper from one pair of hands. Always ready to take an order or sneak a soda, Sonny (Karlo Buxo) is Usnavi’s younger cousin. Lazy enough to kick back but just spirited enough to dream, Buxo plays Sonny with an empathetic quality that exudes a genuine connection with Usnavi. When it’s a bit too hot for caf’ con leche, hit up the Piragua Guy (Sven Ballarte) who’ll treat you to a fresh snow cone and a hilarious melody.

Upon first viewing the stage, complete with subway entrances, brick buildings, fully stocked bodegas, and a beautiful view of the George Washington Bridge, the audience is transported into the streets of Washington Heights. Reminiscent of the original Broadway staging, the set paid a terrific homage to Anna Louizos’ brilliant design. While some scene transitions felt abrupt with the use of a traditional blackout, the flow of the show continued nonetheless. Limited mic errors and terrific diction heightened the intricate lyrical style, but an overwhelming orchestra often diminished it. And while the show typically does run about two and a half hours, the choice to cut some songs from this production resulted in what seemed like a rushed ending.

Boca Raton Community High School’s “In The Heights” takes on the new age of musicals, an era of a multi-genre Broadway that celebrates all cultures, people, and most importantly, music.

*** *** ***

Reviews of A Heart Divided at Western High School on Friday, 2/19/2016


By Paige Slowinski of South Plantation High School

capy1-02-25-15-10-29If you’re looking for a play with teen angst, forbidden love, conflict and death, then “A Heart Divided” is the show for you. It was recently performed by Western High School, which did an amazing job capturing the characters’ true feelings and emotions.

“A Heart Divided”, written as a novel by Jeff Gottesfeld and Cherie Bennett, is the story of a liberal-minded girl named Kate, played by Veronica Lempicki, who lives happily with her family in New Jersey and aspires to be a professional playwright someday.  All is well until Kate’s father gets offered a job in Redford, Tennessee, a small town with deep southern roots. When Kate starts going to her new school, she is appalled to discover that the school symbol is the confederate flag. However, she soon meets Jackson Redford, played by Bruno Enciso, a third generation good ole boy who is as southern as they get. As they sort through their differences, they fall in love and work together to change the controversial insignia.

Overall, the production had a few flaws, but the entire cast came together to put on a quality show. The actors made a point to highlight both comical and serious areas when necessary, and stayed in full character the entire time. Everyone exhibited high energy and kept the audience on the edge of their seat to find out what would happen next.

The leads in this show were very strong in their physicality while establishing the mood and vibe for the entire show. Lempicki, who was a narrator of sorts throughout the play, did a superb job of keeping scenes from dragging by conveying her every emotion in a believable way. The same can also be said of Enciso, who played the role as a dominant character with a spot-on southern accent.

The supporting cast showed strong commitment and enthusiasm in the portrayal their characters. Special praise goes to Brooke Stanish, who played Sally Redford, the strict southern mother of Jackson, and Santiago Zornosa, who played the antagonistic redneck Jared Boose. Both of these characters shone in their roles and brought a sense of professional realism with them on stage.

The director’s choice of minimal tech categories made for a more natural presentation, which made the audience to feel that they were one with the actors. However, the frequent blackouts and the accidental talking from backstage heard through the microphones were slightly distracting. Even so, the use of the screen center stage was very creative and brought a good visual element when a character was describing a setting.

All in all, “A Heart Divided” is a difficult and emotional show, but Western proved that this feat was not out of their reach. The entire cast and crew is commended for their triumph on this engaging production.

.              *             *             *

By Carmen Horn of North Broward Preparatory School

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Western High School’s production of A Heart Divided explores whether Lincoln’s famous words hold true for a town.

“A Heart Divided” by Cherie Bennett and Jeff Gottesfeld tells the story of the controversy surrounding the confederate flag in a small southern town. In Redford, Tennessee, the confederate flag is a symbol of honor, of tradition, and the school’s emblem. Told almost exclusively through soliloquies directed toward the audience, this show follows a young playwright, Kate, who moves to Redford from New Jersey and quickly takes the side of the students fighting for a mascot change. When she falls in love with Jackson Redford III, descendent of the town’s founder, she learns some important lessons about how the past can shape the present.

Veronica Lempicki played Kate Pride, the primary narrator of the show who emphasized the more liberal view toward the flag. She remained consistent and high energy throughout the production, delivering her lines with emotion and variation. Alongside her was Bruno Enciso, who played the conservative Jackson Redford III, and whose intention and commitment was present.

Kate’s younger sister, Portia, played by Micaela Mercado, added a comedic, more lighthearted touch to the production. Her stories were filled with humor and were immensely relatable. She was one of the most believable and genuine characters on the stage. The most intense member of the ensemble was Reverend Roberts, played by Austin Le-Forrester. His speeches added history and background to the story, and kept it grounded in its intent. Another notable performance came from Daniela Cardenez, who played Sara, Jackson’s Ex Girlfriend. Her accent was one of the most consistent in the show, and she was able to transition from cheerleading mean girl to sweet southern belle without any trouble.

The costumes of the show set the tone of the show instantly, with the entire cast clad in red, white and blue, the colors of the American (as well as Confederate) flag. The cast worked well together, even without much direct interpersonal interaction, and was able to overcome any technical difficulties they encountered, presenting a well put together show.

In “A Heart Divided”, Western High School’s cast and crew were able to tell a story of separation with remarkable unity.

.              *             *             *

By Michael Valladares of Cypress Bay High School

Western High School’s production of “A Heart Divided” brings an incredibly relevant story of clashing cultures to life on the stage. Through a play that emphasizes family values and regional differences, Western exposes new perspectives on an incredibly controversial subject.

“A Heart Divided” tells the story of Kate Pride, a liberal-minded girl from New Jersey, who moves to the southern town of Redford Tennessee. While initially reluctant to accept her country-lovin’ culture, she begins to appreciate her new home when she meets Jackson Redford III, a descendant of the town’s namesake. As their relationship blossoms, a petition to replace the local high school’s Confederate flag insignia gains Kate’s support–and soon Kate and Jack’s families are pitted against each other over the meaning of this poignant symbol.

“A Heart Divided” is not a traditional play as it is presented in a presentational style. Rather than engaging in dialogue to advance the narrative, the actors directly address the audience. This reduces the onstage action, but allows the play to become a debate, which allows the audience to be a judge.

Leading the show is Veronica Lempicki as Kate Pride. Lempicki characterized the shy “new girl,” which lead to believable and consistent storytelling. Opposite her is Bruno Enciso, playing Jackson Redford. Enciso maintained phenomenal consistency with his southern accent and embodied the Southern boy through his relationship with Lempicki. From Kate’s family are Micaela Mercado as Portia Pride, Kate’s sister, and Isabella Cring as Jensen Pride, Kate’s mother. Mercado played the self-proclaimed “weird girl.” She embodied the quirky personality of Portia, and her comedic timing was excellent. Mercado manages to get laughs with simple, understated jokes. Cring was an excellent mother as well, being equal parts: protective and friendly. Cring proved a stark contrast to Jackson’s mother, Sally Redford, played by Brooke Stanish. Stanish was extremely believable and an almost toxic person, which was perfect for the role. Lucy and Nikki Roberts, sisters who were leading the petition against the flag, often had moments that were extremely powerful. Played by Kayla McCall and Elan Lewis, respectively, McCall was able to deliver monologues with a poetic feel that fit with the heavy racial themes of the show. Lewis was understated and realistic, and a boon to the cast. While some actors were disconnected from each other, and interpreted the play differently, Western nonetheless has a powerful cast.

Western’s lighting design, lead by Melody Zapata, was excellent, though it appeared as though actors had to wait for lights occasionally. There were sound issues at times, and, though the projecting of sets onto the stage produced a cool effect, the execution of the projector was not consistent in working.

Western took a risk with such a heavy play, but it was worth it. To shed light on both sides of an issue that envelops the nation still today is not easy. And to play it with an even-handed viewpoint is even harder. Western left audiences with a real question about what does it mean to be American?

.              *             *             *

By Isabel Hidalgo of Cooper City High School

Soft, sweet, singing voices full of hope and patriotism in the darkness of a silent theater are the first things that are heard in Western High School’s production of the play, “A Heart Divided.” A moment later, a gunshot rings out, and every actor’s face contorts into a look of horror at the tragedy only those on stage seem to be able to see. Thus begins a show outlining the lives and opinions of those people who live in the small Tennessee town of Redford.

“A Heart Divided” takes place in the present day, when Kate Pride, the lead character, and her family have moved from the NYC suburbs to Redford. At once, Kate is shocked by the way the Confederate flags flies everywhere around the town, including at her own new high school, where the rebel flag is both the school symbol and the football team’s name. Her attention is caught by a petition to change the school’s mascot, but not before she meets an attractive boy that is almost a physical representation of Redford; Jackson Redford III.

Throughout Western High School’s production, many actors and the roles they played shone under the spotlight. Kate Pride, played by Veronica Lempicki, was consistent in her role, reacting genuinely to every action in the play.  Several supporting characters, for example, Anne Augustus, played by Milagros Cots, and Nikki Roberts, played by Elan Lewis–were strong in both action and vocal projection throughout the play. Portia Pride, played by Micaela Mercado, played her part with the humor and awkwardness that her role called for, and did so in a way that was authentic and a pleasure to watch.

The Singers, played by Kyra Mejia and Brian Inerfeld, added an intense emotional connection to the play. Their clear, controlled vocals gave the production a patriotic sentiment that could be easily related to and reminded those watching that the conflict of the Confederate flag within the play was real and still ongoing.

Near the end of the play, Kate Pride stands alone in the center of the stage, looking out onto the audience that has heard her heart-wrenching story. With gentle sadness in her voice, she delivers the lines that best summarize this production: “I’ve been thinking about a heart divided – how the heart of Redford was so divided by a flag from a war that ended seven generations ago. The funny thing is, I think it’s okay. It’s the people who only want one opinion – their opinion – who we have to worry about.”

.    *     *     *

By Nick Lopez of Cypress Bay High School

Western High dipped its toes in some rather controversial waters with their production of A HEART DIVIDED, a piece which debates the role of the Confederate flag in the American culture. The choice was bold, but the show did more than just rely on the sensitive subject of the source material; it tugged at the heartstrings by examining a how a community struggles to reconcile common passions tainted in red, white, and blue with a past stained in haunting black-and-white.

A HEART DIVIDED is structured in a presentational style, with characters delivering most of their lines directly towards to the audience and operating within an absence of substantial dialogue. It follows the story of a teenage girl named Kate who moves from New Jersey to a small town Tennessee. She soon takes issue with the school’s use of the Confederate flag as an insignia, but simultaneously develops an affection for a boy with deeply-rooted ancestral ties to the town’s culture and heritage.

Veronica Lempicki led a large cast as Kate with a natural performance that often complemented Bruno Enciso’s passionate portrayal of Jackson Redford III, Kate’s love interest. Micaela Mercado, playing Kate’s younger sister, Portia, gave the most committed performance of the production. She brightened the stage with radiance and energy through every line, gesture, and movement. Unlike some actors, who experienced difficulty in finding different levels of expression, Portia created a well-rounded character capable of quirkiness, humor, and poignant emotion in a memorable, yet nuanced performance.

A supporting cast overcame recurring issues with pacing and chemistry by creating a variety of personalities and archetypes that powerfully developed the idea of a communal identity. Austin Le-Forrester gave the most impressive transformation as Reverend Roberts, an African-American leader in the town of Redford; although some performers struggled with portal their adult characters and delivering consistent accents. Reverend Roberts exuded a credible air of authority and mastered the execution of an authentic Southern accent. Actors who similarly delivered solid emotional performances include Elan Lewis as Nikki Roberts, a girl who initiates the movement against the Confederate flag at the school, as well as Kayla McCall as Lucy, another student involved in this campaign.

The set design and the majority of visual elements of the show were approached with minimalism to put emphasis on the performances, but a series of projected videos which gave glimpses of events and settings discussed by the characters added a visual balance to the production. The lightning was consistent with the play’s aesthetics thanks to a simplistic yet functional design, although some actors struggled to keep up with black-out-heavy lighting cues.

A difficult subject matter didn’t prevent Western High School from delivering a commendable performance of A HEART DIVIDED. The cast portrayed the material with maturity thus doing justice to a highly relevant story that holds great social and emotional significance.

.              *             *             *

Reviews of Mr Burns, a post-electric play at Somerset Academy Arts Conservatory on Friday, 2/19/2016

By Caden McGhie of North Broward Preparatory School

Burns4medIn a post apocalyptic world where all seems lost, one thing remains to unite the survivors… The Simpsons! In Somerset Academy’s production of “Mr. Burns, a Post Electric Play” we see just how funny and unifying an imaginary cartoon world can be.

Written by Anne Washburn, “Mr. Burns, a Post Electric Play” takes place shortly after an apocalyptic event. The audience follows a group of survivors as they recount an episode of The Simpsons entitled “Cape Feare.” The same story, characters, and morals from the episode are repurposed to fit the artistic and dramatic cultures decades after the destruction of civilization and reworked into… a musical. The Somerset cast also put on a hilarious dumb show, featuring the classic Simpsons characters “Itchy and Scratchy.” The scenes of their dumb show kept the audience laughing every moment.

As the survivors share stories around a fire, we are introduced to Lamont Brantley’s character, Gibson, who completely captivated the audience’s attention with his enthralling personality and his animated physicality. From Brantley’s first entrance, to his comedic ending of the Act One, to his build up and breakdown in Act Two, it’s easy to say he had the entire audience entranced with his emotional investment and grandeur. Although the leads in this cast showed emotional investment and incredible relationships, they were not without error. Diction and projection were an issue that covered up key aspects of the performance.

Jessica Gomez as Quincy brought her sassy and controlling character to the audience’s attention from the time she spoke her first line. Quincy was played powerfully, but Burns in Act Three, played by Gianna Milici, caught the entire audience off guard. Her shocking and malevolent disposition sent shivers down the audiences’ spine with the gripping darkness she sent into the audience.  The most honest way to describe Gianna Milici’s role of Burns is Heath Ledger’s Joker reincarnated.

The amazing a cappella harmonies of the ensemble’s spot on vocals made jaws drop to the floor as soon as they walked on stage for the first commercial. The ensemble was completely engaged in every moment. They made us feel hopeful and empowered with their moving melodies in Act Two, and fearful in Act Three with their creepy physique. This remarkable ensemble made the entire ambiance of the show possible.

The technical aspects of this show helped leave a lasting impression. The set accommodated the variety of three different settings and times incredibly for a black box theater. The makeup and costumes captured the emotion of the whole show, but did a remarkable job in Act Three. Three fingered handprints, the faded resemblance of Simpson characteristics in the costumes, and all the other details exemplify the true devotion the crew had to excellence. The glow in the dark paint and makeup lit up the stage and gave a unique 4th dimension to the show.

This show as a whole had ominous energy and great delivery on the darker comedy. Although there were moments of honest intensity, there were moments where a lack of attentiveness from supporting characters took away from the atmosphere. Unfortunately, a recurring lack of diction and projection made key plot points difficult to understand. Luckily, strong cast members with lasting impressions made up for these issues.

The students of Somerset Academy succeeded in leaving a haunting and memorable performance of Mr Burns, a Post Electric Play.

.              *             *             *

By Carlo Feliciani of NSU University School

Take your favorite story. Try to retell it with every detail. You will probably forget some parts and make up others. Now imagine retelling the story seven years later as theatre. And now try to envision it 75 years after that, where it morphs into an operatic myth. The Somerset Academy Theatre Factory tackled this task with The Simpsons in Anne Washburn’s Mr. Burns, a post-electric play.

Mr. Burns premiered at the Wooly Mammoth Theatre in 2012 and then at the Playwrights Horizons in 2013. Washburn’s concept developed from her thoughts about how pop culture would survive after a nuclear meltdown. Washburn worked with The Civilians theatre company to develop the story by having them try to recount an episode of the Simpsons from memory.

The retelling of the, “Cape Feare,” episode, where Bart is being threatened to death by Sideshow Bob, developed into the dialogue of the first act; six survivors of the apocalypse try to remember the story. Illuminated by candlelight and a fire in a trash can, Gabe Celik, as Matt, Gianina Mugavero, as Jenny, Alexis Gowans, as Maria, and Ryan Fernandez, as Sam, created the atmosphere of this retelling in a broken world. All of the actors worked well together to move through the rollercoaster of emotions, like Gowans, who told a story about buying duct tape that led to a friend’s quest to save the reactors. Even though there were some issues with diction, the actors’ dealt with the gravity of the situation well, adding certain physicality like shifting weight and biting their fingers, especially Celik and Mugavero, to create consistent reactions to the tragedy.

After a new survivor, Gibson, played by Lamont Brantley, joins the group, the story jumps 7 years ahead, where the same group with some additions rehearse as a theatre troupe that retells the stories through the currency of show lines, piecing together episodes with commercials and songs. Brantley commanded the space, either when creating a hysterical rendition of, “Three Little Maids,” or when his character, whose memory fails, believes radiation affected him. The actors shifted in maturity, showing a clear transition in time between the two acts. A medley of chart hits punctuates the rehearsal, performed impressively acapella, with songs that resurface later like Britney Spears’, “Toxic.”

The third act jumps 75 years after the second, morphing the episode into an operetta set on a student designed house boat splashed with neon colors and a mural that was illuminated by black light. The makeup, which included four-fingered fluorescent handprints on the Simpsons family to represent their connection, and costumes, which were like the TV show but morphed into neon inspirations of each character such as Homer’s bald head becoming a bright yellow bandana, complemented the set and tone. Reminiscent of a Greek chorus, the citizens of Springfield sing the story of the Simpsons being captured by Mr. Burns, played by Gianna Milici. Milici’s portrayal as a sadistic and comical clown villain created an atmosphere where you could not take your eyes off her. Although there were some balance issues, the cast’s real vocal power surfaced in the third act, singing in harmony with very little instrumental cues with highlights from Mandy Nikole Figueroa as Bart. The execution of these cues were made by the crew and stage manager Kayla Benedict, who performed with professionalism.

The cast and crew of the Somerset Theatre Factory fully committed to the complex and shifting effects of memory and a nuclear apocalypse, highlighting the power of storytelling as a form of survival and teaching us that, “Every story ends on a dark and raging river…”

.              *             *             *
By Kayla Goldfarb of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

In a post apocalyptic world, all hope for humanity is lost.  Food is scarce, there is no power, and trust is nearly nonexistent.  However, at Somerset Academy’s “Mr. Burns: a -post electric play”, there is one thing civilization can cling to – faint memories of the dearly beloved show, The Simpsons.

Written by Anne Washburn, Mr. Burns is a dark comedy of what would happen to pop culture in a shattered future.  The story begins with a group of survivors trying to recount the popular episode of the Simpsons “Cape Feare” and progresses to the future of 7 and 75 years after trying to keep the story and entertainment alive.  The play also interweaves modern day music, done by Michael Friedman, throughout the second and third acts to further elucidate the decline from today’s world.

Lamont Brantley (Gibson) proved to be a dynamic actor throughout his time on stage.  Whether he was impersonating the Simpsons, singing “Three Little Maids from School”, or appearing in the show’s featured commercials, Brantley managed to consistently bring light to this dark story.  Yet his versatility was enforced when he shifted between comedic and tragic, especially during his character’s breakdown.  Alexis Gowans (Maria) and Gianina Mugavero (Jenny) also stood out in their performances.  They appeared to be constantly engaged both with their characters and the setting throughout the show, even if other performers didn’t.  Their high attention to detail and particular mannerisms they developed made their performance appear authentic and realistic.

Portraying the titular character was Gianna Milici (Mr. Burns), who didn’t come in until the third act.  The wait, however, was well worth it.  Milici gave a performance reminiscent of the familiar DC Comics villain, The Joker, yet still captured the essence of Mr. Burns himself.  While some portrayals in the show felt too dramatic, her over the top delivery of this ominous character was spot on.  Another memorable supporting performance came from Gabe Celik (Matt). Celik had fantastic comedic timing that was especially prominent in the second act.

As an ensemble, the cast worked together spectacularly.  The chemistry between one another was organic and aided in creating seemingly effortless relationships.  The artistic choices of the technical team collaborated with the actors nicely to provide such an intimate atmosphere.  The musical aspects of the show were beautiful.  The whole ensemble sounded exceptionally pleasing, especially powerhouse vocalist Mandy Nikole Figueroa (Bart).  Despite some awkward moments, the play relatively captured the mood no matter if it was comedic, dramatic, or down right sinister.

When all else fails with our world, “Mr. Burns: a post electric play” proved that no matter what happens, the show must go on.

.              *             *             *

By Brooke Whitaker of Archbishop McCarthy High School

In a future decimated by nuclear explosions, how can people find comfort in surviving another day? In Somerset Academy’s excellent rendition of Mr. Burns, a post-electric play, a simple cartoon episode becomes a moving testament to the power of art in rebuilding society.

Anne Washburn’s dark comedy centers on a group of survivors retelling a Simpsons episode after a global catastrophe and explores how that recollection becomes a developing theater show seven years into the future and a full-length musical in seventy-five. Equal parts humorous and unnerving, the play embraces the nature of story-telling as a way for people to come to terms with their circumstances and their future however grim and hopeless both might seem.

The highlight of Somerset’s production was the believability exuded by each of the actors. Both the initial survivors and the later Simpson family had a very natural chemistry that helped drive home the deeper emotional points the show was trying to convey.

Lamont Brantley (Gibson), a wanderer who stumbles upon the survivors camp, flowed very well from dramatic moments to more comedic ones, such as when he puts on a hilarious performance of “Three Little Maids From School Are We” for the rest of the group. Alexis Gowans (Maria), another survivor, exhibited great physicality and facials, always remaining completely engaged, especially during her emotional monologue describing her meeting with a man at Walmart. Other characters, such as Gabe Celik’s Matt and Marlo Rodriquez’s Colleen were well-defined and engrossing, exhibiting unique traits and perks that truly made them come alive on stage.

The third act musical was as vocally powerful as it was visually, partially due to the mutated and glowing Residents of Springfield. Their voices blended beautifully, especially considering most of the songs were sung a cappella. Bobby Morales (Homer) and Mandy Nikole Figueroa (Bart) also had crisp, clear voices that elevated the numerous musical numbers. Gianna Milici was fantastic as the delightfully twisted Mr. Burns, who cackled with murderous glee as she toyed with the Simpsons family in the final act. While overall projection and diction could have been improved, the actors’ animated facials helped make up for the loss of words.

Makeup and costumes were very effective, contributing to the overall ominous mood. The neon hand-prints which adorned the Simpsons during the final act were reminiscent of radioactive material and the iconic outfits were a bit toned down to match the apocalyptic tone.

Somerset Academy’s Mr. Burns is a complex, dark and humorous look at how stories give humanity meaning through troubled times, reminding them that beyond the darkness there is always light.

Reviews of The Importance of Being Earnest  at Saint John Paul II Academy  on Saturday, 11/21/2015


By Isabella Cring of Western High School

In the age of Queen Victoria, the men were gentle and the ladies were covered up. The world was prim, proper, and boring. But, that is not the case in the Oscar Wilde play, “The Importance Of Being Earnest.” This farcical comedy satirizes the aristocracy of Victorian England. First performed in London in 1895, the play follows two haughty men who, in order to escape burdensome social interactions, have created entirely separate identities for themselves. Their other personas get them into trouble when they get the women they love involved. Saint John Paul II Academy presents this “Trivial comedy for serious people” with loads of charm, grace, and corsets.

It is often difficult, with a period piece like this, to pull off elaborate sets without seeming tacky or gimmicky. Saint John Paul II’s simple approach made the ambiance tasteful and refined. Scene changes were few and far between, and when they did happen, they were quick and seamless. On-que spotlights and flawless audio execution made the show a smooth one.

The endearingly flawed leading man, Jack Worthing, was played by Charlie Metzger. His physicality and comic timing made him impossible to look away from. His counterpart, Algernon Moncrieff (Nik Ramadan) was a gracious acting partner to anyone he shared the stage with. His chemistry with Metzger was absolutely dazzling and had the audience in stitches. Ramadan also opened the play with a performance on a grand piano that nicely set the tone for the play. Another shining man was Coleton Santacroce in the role of Rev. Canon Chasuble, DD. While his energetic presence wasn’t on stage often, he was by far one of the most memorable characters in the play.

The ladies of the show were nothing short of dynamic. The classic “disapproving mother” character, Lady Bracknell, was played by Audri Harrypersad. Her portrayal of the boisterous woman was hilarious and ever so relatable. Her daughter, Gwendoline Fairfax (Julia Hartmann), was diminutive in her characterization and left the audience (and her love interest) eating out of the palm of her hand. The young beauty, Cecily Cardew (Arleyce Lima), had hilarious timing and delightful chemistry with her fellow actors. Her portrayal of the slightly disturbed teenager was subtle and absolutely engaging.

Saint John Paul II Academy’s production of “The Importance of Being Earnest” was a captivating piece that captured the outrageousness of Victorian aristocracy.  Through antics, misunderstandings, and petticoats, Saint John Paul II Academy taught us that while we don’t always have to be honest, it is of the utmost importance to always be earnest.

***     ***     ***

By Marisa Schloneger of Cooper City High School

At some point in a person’s life, they have wished to be someone else. However, what if they actually became that person? In Saint John Paul ll Academy’s production of “The Importance of Being Earnest,” you discover the story about the hilarious charade that is Ernest Worthing.

Written by Oscar Wilde in 1895, “The Importance of Being Earnest,” was written to be a farcical comedy. It follows the stories of two men who are trying to escape their personas due to the distresses of social responsibilities. In the play, the old Victorian lifestyle is proven to have a few burdens carried along with it, such as social status and love and marriage, but are told with a comical twist.

Jack Worthing (Charlie Metzger) is a young man with a bit of a secret; he goes by the name, “Ernest.” Although it may seem like a small fault, when he proposes to his love Gwendoline (Julia Hartmann), she admits that most of her excitement comes from the fact that she’s marrying a man named, “Ernest.” After multiple failed attempts of getting her to say that she’d marry a man with a different name, he gives in to the idea of getting secretly rechristened, “Ernest”.  Meanwhile, Jack’s good friend, Algernon (Nik Ramadan), pays a visit to Jack’s young ward Cecily (Arleyce Lima). He decides to use his friend’s tactic and introduce himself as Ernest. Soon after falling in love, Algernon proposes and finds himself to be in the same predicament as his dear friend Jack. Ironically, like Gwendoline, Cecily too adores the name Ernest and is adamant that she marry a man with that name.

Both Metzger and Ramadan were incredible with their high energy and animated comedy. When the two had scenes together, or even alone, they brought life to the stage. Lima captured her character extremely well, and delivered her lines in a very subtle but comedic way. While there were a few characters that may have lacked expression, all together there was a scarcity of dull moments.

Other characters such as Lady Bracknell (Audri Harrypersad), Miss Prism (Jaelyne Vigoa), and Reverend Canon Chasuble (Coleton Santacroce) were truly captivating and pulled the production together. Whether it was an extravagantly ridiculous costume or a humorous biblical reference, each of them was entertaining in their own special way and were truly attention grabbing.

Each set was very different from the other, but very effective. It made you feel as if you were actually in the scenes with the characters. Although there was minimal lighting, it was just enough to justify the play and the sound was very clear.

In the end, as all truths came out, the declaration that being yourself is what will make you prevail became present. Saint John Paul ll Academy’s production of “The Importance of Being Earnest” was truthfully a must see performance. And that’s the importance of being earnest!

***     ****   ****

By Matthew Bonachea of Somerset Academy Arts Conservatory

First performed at the Saint James’ Theatre in London in 1895, “The Importance of Being Earnest,” is a comedic play by Oscar Wilde that takes much professionalism and dedication to perform in modern times. Saint John Paul II Academy was quite determined to pay close attention to the detail of the time period, and deliver the story in a comedic manner.

The play is comprised of three acts that unfold an interesting story of romance, while invoking laughter from the audience. The story begins with playful bickering between friends Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff over a simple cigarette case. When Jack explains how he sometimes goes by the name Ernest, the witty Algernon cannot help himself but investigate the origins of the alias.

Nik Ramadan played the hilariously sassy role of Algernon Moncrieff, and provided the majority of the comedy in the show. Line after line, he brought his own talent and interpretation of the text into the show and made it all the more interesting. When spoken to by his aunt, Lady Bracknell (played by Audri Harrypersad), he exhibited a sense of respect that showed his talent through his ability to give his character a strong range of emotion.

Algernon’s butler, Lane (played by Blake Earl), complemented the other characters in the show with his dull, and somewhat depressing, character. He brought much needed comic relief into some of the duller moments and did so in a very natural way. Reverend Canon Chasuble, DD (played by Coleton Santacroce) helped turn dramatic moments in the second and third acts into comedic ones with his large and exaggerated movements and lines.

Publicity and Marketing Director Jaelyne Vigoa showed a strong attention to detail when she used an actual photo of the actors who played Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff to design the program and ticket. The production was executed flawlessly by the production staff.

In staying true to the time period, accents are essential. However, some characters showed some difficulty with the dialect and could have used more development and training. Inconsistencies with the accent was, at times, distracting, but did not detract from the overall quality of the show. Some of the characters were not as developed as others, and a few were somewhat lackluster and did not add anything to the quality of the show.

Being a very difficult show to produce in high school, Saint John Paul II Academy had a hard task at hand, and tackled it with ease.

***     ***     ***

By Mandy Figueroa of Somerset Academy Arts Conservatory

“The Importance of Being Earnest” is a farcical comedy in which the two protagonists, Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, obtain fictitious identities in order to avoid certain social obligations. Written by Oscar Wilde and first performed in 1895, this Victorian London based play follows a series of ironic situations caused by these satirical characters resulting in a comedic performance from a flurry of actors.

Saint John Paul ll Academy’s production of “The Importance of Being Earnest” had a variety of contributing and mediocre elements. Although beautiful and well arranged, the set started out mildly inconsistent and incoherent. However, as the play went on, the sets became more and more expertly crafted, and by the third act we were immersed in a Victorian household. These sets were transported by an efficient stage crew that made good use of their time and were hardly noticed. Each actor for the majority of the show was followed by a spotlight that was at times slightly distracting, but mostly well managed and attentive to the movement on stage. The costumes in this production seemed to display a significant amount of color psychology between characters, and didn’t fail to match to piece accurately. The logo for this production was impressively student-done, and features the actual, digitally-fixed profiles of the actors who played our two protagonists.

The cast of this production had varying levels of character development and energy. The two lead actors, Charlie Metzger and Nik Ramadan, who play Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, respectively, displayed a high contrast to one another. This contrast in character was the main source of comedy in this farce, and they managed to grab the attention of the audience separately and collaboratively. While both pretending to be the same person at differing times, their face-offs never failed to produce a roar of laughter, and the talent emitting from these two was clear.

Arleyce Lima, who portrayed Jack’s young and slightly crazed niece, Cecily Cardew, made acting choices that provided a huge comedic reaction. She played these moments in an original and serious way, which made her entire situation even more humorous and authentic. Coleton Santacroce, who played the eccentric Reverend Canon Chasuble, D.D. stood out in his performance with big gestures and creative reactions. Lady Bracknell, an overbearing aunt, portrayed by Audri Harrypersad, managed to create an antagonistic figure in a skillful way. Lady Bracknell’s daughter, the lovely Gwendoline Fairfax, played by Julia Hartmann, displayed a wonderful chemistry and hilarious tension with Cecily Cardew when on stage together. Although not every actor displayed a full energy-leveled performance, the majority of the show allowed the characters to build and manifest.

“The Importance of Being Earnest” at Saint John Paul ll Academy mostly captured the farcical comedy it was meant to produce. The acting and technical aspects of this production were coherent and well-displayed, and resulted in an enjoyable performance from a variety of actors. It was a pleasure to get to discover, “The Importance of Being Earnest.”

 

.              *             *             *.

By Savannah Zona of Boca Raton High School

Muffins were flinging, and humor was abounding at Saint John Paul II Academy’s rendition of “The Importance of Being Earnest.” Balancing the 19th century’s absurd notions about marriage with its insistence for such a commitment, this production captured the comedic sincerity of the classic farce, and showed that “the very essence of romance is uncertainty.”

First performed in London in 1895, Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” is a story of irony and deception. Wilde satirizes the ludicrous ideals that surround the institution of marriage in Victorian England with a brilliant use of comical deception. Two friends (John Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff) are engaged to be married, however, they have assumed a common false name in order to win the affection of their beloveds. Each man goes by the name of John’s nonexistent brother Ernest. Each of their fiancés have their heart set on marrying a man with said name and feel as though they would not love the men if their names were not so. Therefore, being that both men are identified under the same name, when the fiancés Cecily and Gwendoline meet, they believe that they are engaged to the same person. As the men try to regain the approval of the women, they discover the true importance of being earnest.

In its entirety, the show was packed with splendid comedic timing and honorable technical elements. Many cast members infused their characters with a sort of genuine realism that enhanced pertinent moments within the show. Though frantic at times, the technicians were overall competent in their stage duties. The crew was diligent in transforming the stage between scenes, and was successful in creating a subtle ambiance of the Victorian age through the hues of light that illuminated the stage.

Admirably, the crew paid special attention to detail. Many implements were wonderfully thought out. For example, the show’s merchandise was a design containing two silhouettes of actors from the production. Also notable were the color themes developed in the costumes of John and Algernon. Algernon wore red during Act I, and his counterpart John wore simple beige. In Act II, when Algernon assumed the name of Ernest (the identity which John was already assuming) he wore a beige suit with red pin stripes, which enhanced the combination of his own character with that of the new found identity he now shared with John.

Nik Ramadan as Algernon fully committed to his role. Whether he was munching on muffins or professing his affection for his dearest Cecily, Ramadan commanded the stage with his spot on comedic timing, effortless naturalism, and confident demeanor. Helping to develop a dynamic chemistry with Algernon was Charlie Metzger as Jack Worthing. While some actors in the show were inconsistent with their complexity, Metzger and Ramadan led the hilarity with their vivacious range of inflections and emotional commitment.

Wilde said: “In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing.” Well, the cast and crew of “The Importance of Being Earnest” performed with a memorable essence of style, and being that “memory is the diary that we all carry about with us,” Saint John Paul II Academy’s production will surely be written in its audience’s mental diary for years to come.

Reviews of The Crucible at Archbishop McCarthy High School on 11/22/2015


By Carmen Horn of North Broward Preparatory School

Everyone is in league with the devil and no one is safe from persecution in Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy High School’s production of The Crucible.

The Crucible by Arthur Miller centers around the Witch trials of the 1690s in the town of Salem, Massachusetts. When Betty Parris, the minister’s daughter, suddenly falls ill with a mysterious affliction, the town looks to orphan Abigail Williams, who claims that witchcraft is the source. With suspicions running high and accusations flying about, the members of the town turn on each other, using this religious persecution as a way to settle perceived wrongs, especially the devious Abigail, who wants to get her former lover’s, John Proctor, wife out of the way so she can have him all to herself.

The lecherous but righteous John Proctor was played by Matthew Salas. Salas had consistently high energy throughout the production and commanded the scenes he was in with his projection. Though he kept the intensity high for the majority of the show, the scenes with his wife, Elizabeth, were calm and believable. The two truly connected, and their interactions created a strong foundation for the difficulties surrounding them. Elizabeth was played by Brianna Eljaua with poise and composure, every inch the good Christian woman. She was calm and collected, with careful delivery and a quiet strength, serving as an excellent foil to the bombastic John.

Similarly calm in the face of all the energy and suspicion was Reverend John Hale, played by Kevin Fitzpatrick. He stayed sensible and coolheaded for the majority of the show, but showed growth as the weight of what he was involved in settled on him. Deputy Governor Danforth, the judge in the trials, had a gravity about him, able to control a scene even when he was speaking quietly. Rebecca Correa played the nervous Mary Warren, one of the girls accusing people of witchcraft, consistently and convincingly, staying active in the back of every scene and portraying believable character growth and decisions.

The rest of the girls were similarly reactive in the courtroom possession scene. The whole cast maintained a very high level of energy throughout the show. Everyone reacted to the action and stayed invested in every scene.

Lighting and sound effects added a significant level to this production thanks to stage manager Christine Fanchini. Makeup, by Bonnie Lynch, and costumes helped set the stage in the 1600s, and were well and subtly done.

This production of The Crucible did a good job of portraying the themes of this iconic play: truth, lies, death, trust, suspicion, and, most importantly, forgiveness.

### ###

By Isabel Hidalgo of Cooper City High School

The word ‘crucible’ can be defined as, ‘a place or situation that forces people to change or make difficult decisions’. With this definition in mind, it is easy to see why there is so much spiritual strife and impassioned anguish that permeates Archbishop McCarthy High School’s production of the well known play, The Crucible by Arthur Miller.

Though the setting of the play is in Salem, Massachusetts in the year 1692, the work was originally written in 1953 as an allegory toward the McCarthyism — a campaign against people thought to be associated with communism — that raged throughout the United States at the time of its creation. Throughout this play, the many characters must deal with various fateful decisions; they must choose between keeping their pride or their lives, being honest or lying to save their lives, and they must choose whether to fight and die for their beliefs or keep what they feel hidden.

When a group of Puritan girls are discovered comitting a grave sin–dancing in the middle of the night in the forest–the consequences of their actions end up involving the entire village of Salem as they blame their midnight escapades on witchcraft. Abigail Williams, played by Bella Miulescu, leads the group of girls as they begin accusing and trying the many women and even some men of the village with the serious charge witchcraft and wizardry. Miulescu’s physical and emotional intensity, as well as her commitment to her character throughout the production made for an interesting, albeit malicious role that left the room silent in her wake.

John Proctor, played by Mathew Salas, and his wife Elizabeth, played by Brianna Eljaua, are the opposing factors to Abigail and her posse and pay dearly for it throughout the play. As unfortunate event after unfortunate event pile upon them, the two once estranged individuals become closer and in the end, both feel a rekindling of the love they once felt fervidly for each other. Salas carried his character’s poetic lines and actions out with a power and dignity typical of his prideful character. Eljaua was phenomenal as Elizabeth Proctor, reacting and immersing herself deeply into every scene she appeared in. Every action and emotion that crossed Eljaua’s face was completely genuine. It was refreshing to see her calm, strongly sentimental behavior amongst the general intensity of every other character.

The cast and crew, led by stage manager Christine Fanchini, which had limited space to operate in, did a commendable job in transitioning scenes efficiently. In the makeup department, Bonnie Lynch did a detailed, wonderful job in transforming students for their individual roles.

Archbishop McCarthy’s production of The Crucible is a powerful, profound work that no one will be able to blink from their minds anytime soon.

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By Neil Goodman of North Broward Preparatory School

In a world of petulant priests, would-be witches, and terror-filled trials, one man must choose between his life and his good name. The students of Archbishop McCarthy High School showed just how heart breaking a choice like this can be during their production of The Crucible.

Written in 1953 by Arthur Miller, The Crucible takes place in 1692 Salem and shows the disastrous outcome of mixing a legal system with a belief system. Often viewed as a protest play, The Crucible was written as an allegorical response to McCarthyism and features a group of young girls accusing other townspeople of witchcraft in order to serve their own motives. The story centers on John Proctor, husband of one of the accused, and his struggle to maintain his integrity while attempting to prevent the execution of innocents.

Matthew Salas played the honest yet flawed farmer John Proctor. Salas portrayed the leading man with gusto and had no trouble adding steadfast intensity to his line delivery and physicality. Also, Salas displayed a dynamic chemistry with both his ex-lover, Abigail, and his wife, Elizabeth. Elizabeth Proctor, played by Brianna Eljaua, offered an appealing contrast to her husband with her calming presence, even when she herself was being accused of witchcraft. Eljaua had a masterful understanding of her character arc, which gave Elizabeth a degree of believability usually unattainable for a high school student.

Deputy Governor Danforth, played by Nicholas Palazzo, had a stern and powerful stage presence that added tension and gravity to any scene he was in. Often opposing Danforth in court, Reverend Hale was thoughtfully played by the talented Kevin Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick’s command of both dialogue and moments of silence aided in Hale’s transformation from a pious priest to a broken non-believer. In addition, Rebecca Correa’s portrayal of Mary Warren was equally empathetic and eerie, which was evident in her consistent physicality and reactions.

Looking at tech, the set worked perfectly to accommodate a large cast and display four different settings in a black box theater with minimal transition time. Transitions and technical cues were executed quickly and quietly under the command of stage manager Christine Fanchini.

The show as a whole had high energy from start to finish-no easy task for such a long play. However, there were moments when excessive yelling detracted from the importance of a scene, but the discipline and focus of the talented cast was clear throughout.

The students of Archbishop McCarthy High School succeeded in providing a haunting and memorable performance of The Crucible.

### ###

By Claudia Moncaliano of The Sagemont School

“The Crucible,” written by Arthur Miller, shares a heart-wrenching tale of the lives that were lost to the cruelties of the Salem Witch Trials. This drama became a classic American piece after winning the Tony Award for Best Play in 1953 on Broadway. Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy High School delivered this production with a clear grasp on what it meant to live in a time where the accused were blacklisted and it was safer to confess a lie than to hold on to your known truth.

Matthew Salas, as John Proctor, brought a high level of intensity to the stage as he changed demeanor before the relentless magistrate, his wife Elizabeth Proctor (Brianna Eljaua), and his mistress Abigail Williams (Bella Miulescu). Eljaua and Salas created beautiful pictures on the black box theater stage as they embraced one another in the face of death. Eljaua provided much appreciated levels to the piece as a poised yet tortured woman. Miulescu could not have been more convincing of her possessed state and manipulative mind as she dove to the ground, cried for salvation, and accused more than half the town of witchcraft. Her only care for another was shown through her passionate pleading for Proctor’s hand in her persistent battle to make him hers.

Playing the role of the formidable antagonist Deputy Governor Danforth, Nicholas Palazzo contributed a powerful presence to the stage while delivering a high level of maturity and command over the court through his characterization. Similarly, Kevin Fitzpatrick as Reverend John Hale conveyed a fully developed character which experienced both a dedication to the court and a fearful guilt and regret for those who were hung.

Tituba, Abigail’s first victim, was played by Marisabel Correa who mimicked the shrilling screams of the possessed children and helpless cries of the doomed elder women as she longed for Barbados and to be free of accusations. Some actors lost their way in diction and volume as we heard more paralleled yells than levels in a few scenes. However, others found a great place to rest while still showcasing their talents. Alexandria Palazzo, as Mrs. Ann Putnam, communicated her hurt and angst from losing seven children as she begged the consideration of witchcraft upon Betty Parris, played by Katie Diaz, who shook and claimed to fly under demonic control alongside Abigail.

The three hour long production was engaging, eye-opening, and profound. By the final scene, the urgency and reality of the corruption between church and state was remarkably vivid to the characters on stage as they plead for one more chance at life and sanity within the magistrate.

.              *             *             *

By Daniel Agmon of JP Taravella HS

Archbishop McCarthy High School provided a powerful afternoon of drama at the theatre: recounting Arthur Miller’s renowned and controversial play, The Crucible and reminding the audience why this piece is a staple of the American theatre repertoire.

Written in 1953, The Crucible received largely mixed reviews and surprisingly went on to win the Tony award for “Best Play”. Risking his own life and career, Miller was blacklisted by the US government during the McCarthy era when he wrote The Crucible as an allegory for the incredulous accusations of Communism that were taking place in America.  The play takes place in the late 17th century during the horrific Salem Witch Trials, when the church governed the law of the land. The righteous yet deeply flawed John Proctor, is put to the test when his ex-mistress, the young and seductive Abigail Williams, accuses his wife of the highest treason of all – witchcraft. This little black lie soon spirals out of control, ensuing mass chaos throughout the New England town.

Overall, the play was superior with an admirable cast beautifully delivering Miller’s poetic language and embodying the play’s strong moral messages. The intense emotional commitment was evident in every actor. The production swept the audience back in time, effortlessly capturing the bleak period it was set in.

Matthew Salas, who starred as the authoritative John Proctor, gave a commanding performance, utilizing superb realistic choices. Proctor’s wife, Elizabeth, portrayed by Brianna Eljaua displayed many deep emotional levels. Her vocal quality and diction were outstanding. The chemistry between Salas and Ejaua was electric and the naturalistic elegance between the two provided a lovely hint of romance.

The devilish Abigail Williams depicted by Bella Miulescu gave a chilling performance with exceptional energy. Her use of imagery, specifically when she saw these “supposed” spirits, was both eerie and magnetic. Kevin Fitzpatrick playing the agreeable Reverend John Hale attributed to the show immensely with his delightful presence. Other standouts were Liam Mihoulides as Judge Hathorne and Marisabel Correa as Tituba.

Tech-wise, the show was perfect; from the lavishly detailed set to the thrilling, exquisite lighting, seamlessly transitioning from shades of navy blue to luscious and dramatic shades of rouge during the climactic moments of the play. The music, orchestrated live, underscored every scene adding, a subtle, yet unnerving tone to the piece. Stage management, run by Christine Fanchini, was exceptional, as cues were never missed.

Archbishop McCarthy High School’s haunting production of The Crucible was majestic, prompting the audience to reflect upon their own conscience, and ponder about the importance of loyalty, love, and the ultimate lesson: to always speak the truth.

Reviews of Singin’ In The Rain at South Plantation High School on 11/21/2015

By Thomas Neira of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

When half of Hollywood’s most loved couple is in love with an aspiring actor, and the leading lady has the most obnoxious voice you could imagine, hilarity is bound to ensue. South Plantation High School’s cast and crew proved that they know how to “Make Em’ Laugh” in their delightful rendition of “Singin’ In the Rain”!

Adapted from the 1952 movie of the same name, the timeless musical follows the story of Hollywood’s most loved couple as they transition from silent film to talking pictures. With book by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and lyrics by Arthur Freed, “Singin’ In the Rain” explores the not-so-fabulous life of Hollywood’s silent actors in a whirl of keeping up appearances and being trapped by contracts.

South Plantation High School uniquely blended sign language into their performance in to transforming their production into Theater for the Deaf. The cast approached this task with maturity utilizing an ensemble of interpreters who demonstrated their dedication by not only assuming the character’s speech, but also emotion.

At the head of the production was the talented Jermarcus Riggins as Don Lockwood.  Riggins maintained a commanding stage presence and astounded the audience with his rich vocals and impressive tap dance. Even while perfectly executing the challenging choreography, he always maintained his character’s emotion.  Playing Lockwood’s best friend, Cosmo Brown, Jesse Castellanos shone with his unflagging energy, maintaining his character’s over-the-top humor and nature throughout the entire show. Castellanos admirably embodied his character’s personality, which was well complemented by his exceptional comedic timing and musicality. Tajah Lee (Kathy Selden) stole both the audience and Lockwood’s heart with her remarkable vocal ability and poise.  Lee’s confidence and emotional flexibility allowed her to comfortably portray her character as she falls in love with Lockwood, but maintains her dignity. Other notable performances included Hannah Singer (Lina Lamont), Adam Ortega (R.F. Simpson), and Wayde Boswell (Production Singer). Singer largely added to the comical element, staying true to her character’s superficial nature and maintaining her character’s infamous voice. Boswell was a standout in the ensemble for his incredible performance of “Beautiful Girls”.

Although the actors were sometimes left in the dark, the lighting design was commendable, skillfully incorporating different techniques like colored spotlights to add to the mood and energy of the show.  The costumes were fitting of the time period and exhibited the glamorous lifestyle of Hollywood’s rich and famous.

It’s true you can’t believe everything you read in the magazines, but judging by the upbeat musical numbers, superb tap dancing, and delightful fusion of American Sign Language, it’s safe to say that South Plantation High School’s production of “Singin’ In the Rain” was a great success.

.              *             *             *

By Kimberly Moatamedi of NSU University School

Lights, Camera, Action! South Plantation High School presents a Monumental Pictures production of “Singin’ In The Rain.” With colorful costumes, elaborate dance numbers, and even talking pictures, the scene is set for a mesmerizing production.

Based on the 1952 movie, “Singin’ In The Rain” is set in the 1920’s and focuses around the story of the successful silent movie actor Don Lockwood and his struggle with his egotistic leading lady Lina Lamont. After a movie entitled The Jazz Singer becomes a huge success as the first talking movie, R.F. Simpson, the producer of Monumental Pictures, is forced to make the first musical talking movie within six weeks. Aside from the production, Don Lockwood meets a talented woman named Kathy Selden, and a love story unravels. With lyrics by Arthur Freed, and music by Nacio Herb Brown, “Singin’ In The Rain” had 367 performances on Broadway in 1985 and was nominated for the Tony categories of Best Book of a Musical and Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical in 1986.

Showing remarkable chemistry through romantic eye contact and passionate kisses, Jermarcus Riggins and Tajah Lee played the roles of the soul mates Don Lockwood and Kathy Selden. Lee portrayed her character’s strong personality and determination for her career while still demonstrating innocence in her relationship with Lockwood. Riggins displayed constant enthusiasm despite complex tap dances and even falling rain on the stage. Playing Lockwood’s sidekick and best friend Cosmo Brown was Jesse Castellanos. Remaining entertaining and hilarious throughout the entire production, Castellanos shined the most during his sensational song “Make Em’ Laugh”. He ensured that the hilarity never ceased when he was on stage with incredible comedic timing and humorous physicality.

During the entire show, the ASL interpreters including Jacob Altman, Christiane Lockerd, and Tenny-Ann Dandy, were constantly in character regardless of the character that they were translating for. Though none of them had any spoken lines or much stage movement, their consistent enthusiasm and involvement in the story was beyond impressive.

The costumes were student designed, gorgeous, and very character appropriate. The student-made sets and props were reflecting the period and were clearly carefully designed for the scene and where it took place. In the song “Singin’ In The Rain”, the stable light post had the durability to hold up as Riggins danced on it. The set behind him stayed together despite the water pouring down on it. The stage crew did a sufficient job as they constantly moved large set pieces around with ease.

South Plantation High School’s production of “Singin’ In The Rain” presented limitless energy without straying from the 1920’s ambience. The show left the audience wanting to tap away and sing in the storm developing outside. The heartwarming and humorous show was not a disappointment.

And cut! That’s a wrap.

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By Carlo Feliciani of NSU University School

Lights…camera…tap dance! The classic movie era is back in South Plantation High School’s energetic and hysterical spectacle, “Singin’ in the Rain,” based on the 1952 movie starring Gene Kelly.

The songs, the jokes, and the dances are all there in the Hollywood story about the filming of the silent movie “The Dueling Cavalier,” starring Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont, guaranteed to be a hit-until the first “talkie,” movie causes a sensation. The movie business is changed forever, forcing the movie to become “The Dancing Cavalier,” a musical extravaganza. There’s only one problem: the leading Lina has a not-so-pleasant voice. Out of Lot 5 comes Kathy Selden, a singer and actress who can save the picture and wins the heart of Don. When Lina suspects something is up and the movie gets closer to its release, hilarity ensues.

The overall cast brought an exciting energy throughout the show that was consistent, especially during numbers like “Broadway Melody,” in which the cast came on stage to tap and sing together. Although there were some issues with tonality, the cast made up for it through their commitment to the time period, an example being the viewing of the movies, which were filmed by the cast, where cast members in the audience hackled at the screen.

Jermarcus Riggins as Don Lockwood had a professional-level comfort on stage that was mixed with his exceptional dancing and vocals throughout his songs, such as the recognizable, “Singin’ in the Rain.” His chemistry with Tajah Lee as Kathy Selden made it a romance to fight for throughout the story, culminating in the touching reprise of, “You Are My Lucky Star,” as Don sang to Kathy as she walked down the aisle into his arms.

A definite highlight of the night was Jesse Castellanos as Cosmo Brown, with comedy and slapstick galore. Castellanos’s physicality, with no limitations, connected with the comedic heartbeat through accurate timing of jokes and facial reactions, keeping consistency throughout. His duet with Mr. Riggins, “Moses Supposes,” with precise tap dancing and comedic interjections with the Male Diction Teacher, played by Lucas Doytier, created a special moment on stage, and the classic, “Make Em Laugh,” was true to its name.

Most of the technical elements of the production were student created or driven, such as lighting, sound, and costumes. Although there were some inconsistencies with lighting, the energetic and colorful decisions did add the extravagant element to the production. The sets keep the consistency of a movie set with the perfect mix between artifice and reality.

An important element of the South Plantation production were the American Sign Language Interpreters. By being the only high school in Broward County that offers programs for the hard of hearing, the school makes it a priority to make the arts accessible to all audiences. The interpreters, dressed in costume, kept a connection to the story through active signing in connection with the emotion of the lines.

South Plantation High School’s production of “Singin’ in the Rain” created an infectious and extravagant night of tap dancing and classic moments, while also creating a poignant message about the need to make theatre accessible to everyone in the ever-changing world, so that we can all make ’em laugh and sing in the rain.

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By Claudia Moncaliano of The Sagemont School

It’s a world of black and white reels, silent film star romances, and red carpet premieres at the Chinese theater, but when the first “talkie” is released, every film crew in town is sent back to the drawing board, knee-deep in records. “Singin’ in the Rain,” written and composed by Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Nacio Herb Brown, and Arthur Freed, was based on the 1952 film of the same name and opened on Broadway for the first time in 1985. The typical performance of this show comes complete with raincoats, umbrellas, tap shoes, and an on-stage rain shower.

South Plantation High School’s production showed comedic mastery, dazzling special effects, and took us behind the scenes of a movie set to experience the filming of Lockwood and Lamont’s first talking picture. Unique to South Plantation High School, they also incorporated American Sign Language into the production which added another layer of magic as the numerous interpreters portrayed their characters alongside the traditional actors.

At the center of the story, Jermarcus Riggins charmed his audience as Don Lockwood, the leading man in silent films. A foil to his brusque and shrill voiced co-star Lina Lamont, played by Hannah Singer, Riggins shared his velvety voice in the heart-felt Act 1 finale “Singin’ in the Rain” where he not only sang, but danced under the on-stage rain shower. Singer was pure comedy every time she came onstage showcasing Lamont’s diva personality and unique articulation every time she spat the words “What do you think I am, dumb or something?”

Jesse Castellanos found his niche as Cosmo Brown, Don Lockwood’s best friend, executing his role with eye-catching stage presence, engaging physicality, and spot-on humor. He lit up the stage in his number “Make ‘Em Laugh” where humored the audience with classic comedy bits, pouncing on and off film equipment, props, and set pieces.

The constant film set chaos was beautifully balanced with Riggins’ and Tajah Lee’s, Kathy Seldon, love affair. Lee played the role of Kathy with much poise, capturing her defensive nature, dulcet voice, and dramatized romance between herself and Riggins. Also a release from the frantic we’re-making-a-movie tempo of the show, the pre-shot screenings of the films were enjoyable to watch projected in full black and white and classic silent film format.

The ensemble had various standout groups and featured actors such as the Assistant Directors (Keshawn Louis, Jalu Rachel, and Dwayne Reed), who’s sharp rule-of-threes comedy broke the audience into smiles. While some actors, however, had trouble with diction, the on-stage interpreters showed personality and professionalism as they told the story through another lens.

South Plantation High School’s production of “Singin’ In the Rain” captured Hollywood madness and manipulation at its finest and had stand-out actors that brought the show to life.

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By Nick Lopez of Cypress Bay High School

South Plantation enjoyed quite the spectacular forecast with its latest theatrical endeavor: a radiant sunshower of  charming romances, irresistible slapstick humor, and rousing tap numbers all delivered with 1920s vivacity in this spirited production of SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN!

SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN is a theatrical adaptation of the classic 1952 musical comedy film  of the same name;  the stage production first premiered in the West End in 1983 before making its Broadway debut in 1985. Both the film and stage musical depict Hollywood’s transition from silent films to sound films in the 1920s; the story centers on Don Lockwood, a silent film star whose equally successful leading lady Lina Lamont is discovered to possess a comically unfortunate speaking voice that may not be a fit for a new era of “talking” motion pictures.

The driving force behind the production was the entire cast’s unswerving energy throughout the entirety of an incredibly intense and fast-paced show. Despite sometimes suffering from unrefined vocals, the ensemble was always animated and in character, and extensive tap-numbers never lost their excitement and vibrancy. Sign-language interpreters were integrated into the context and atmosphere of the production, thus adding an extra layer of spirit and uniqueness to the show. Jermarcus Riggins exhibited on-stage comfort and charisma as Don Lockwood, the show’s protagonist. He boasted excellent vocals and fantastic tapping ability, all of which led to a consistently refreshing command of the stage. Opposite Riggins was Tajah Lee as Kathy Seldon, a chorus girl who steps in to provide the voice for Lina Lamont’s performance. Lee fit in nicely into the 1920s atmosphere, and her refined vocals provided tender, down-to earth moments that balanced out the hyper-energetic pace of the s
how.

Jesse Castellanos displayed comedic brilliance in his portrayal of Cosmo, Don’s best friend. Castellanos’s dedication to the role was palpable in his sleek execution of over-the-top, slapstick, tongue-in-cheek humor, but he simultaneously exuded a natural charm and stage presence that ultimately made the performance an audience favorite. Hannah Singer also provided moments of laugh-out-loud absurdity as the eccentric Lina Lamont thanks to a clear understanding of the show’s campy style of humor, as did Lucas Doytier as the Male Diction Teacher, who made a resonating impression despite a short stage time due to  a hilariously quirky and cartoonish character interpretation. Unlike Castellanos, Singer, and Doytier, some actors lacked enunciation and projection in their line delivery, which interfered with the clarity of the plot. Others struggled in building multi-dimensional characterizations, and sometimes developed unconvincing chemistry between one another.

South Plantation’s set was enormous in scope and was vibrantly dressed by dazzling props and period costumes. The lighting design was dynamic and playful, and the creative inclusion of student-filmed black-and-white movie excerpts provided memorable humorous segments to the production.

The resilience of an energetic cast in the face of a rigorously demanding show won over both fans of the classic movie and newcomers. South Plantation was beltin’, tappin’, and SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN – and audience was laughin’, applaudin’, and lovin’ every second of it.

Reviews of The Wiz at Dillard Center for the Arts on 11/14/2015


By Paul Levine of NSU University School

According to The Wiz, the goal in life is to achieve “power, prestige, and money.” However, Dillard Center for the Arts paints a different picture – the journey of a ragtag group of four which yearns for something more.

Based on the age-old tale, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum, “The Wiz” tells the story of a girl named Dorothy and her quest to find home. After being dropped off in a mysterious realm, she befriends a Scarecrow, a Tinman, and a Lion, respectively. All trek to the wish-giving wizard to get what they desire, but the wizard has one demand; they need to kill Evilene, the Wicked Witch of the West. Originally premiering at the Majestic Theatre in 1975, the production ran for 1,672 performances and garnered seven Tony awards, including Best Musical.

Leading the show was Paris Webster playing the strong and friendly, yet confused Dorothy. Webster’s consistent energy and bold stage presence carried the show from start to finish. The ingénue showcased her melodic voice in songs such as, “As Soon As I Get Home.” Davion Jones, as Lion, never failed to deliver laughs throughout the night. From his show stopping entrance in, “Mean Ole Lion,” to his drug-induced fantasy in “Lion’s Dream,” Jones unique charisma and boisterous intonation captured the soul-singing motif of the show.

Jantanies Thomas, as Aunt Em, embodied the loving themes of the show with her caring and soothing nature. She showcased the rare sight of an actor making a marked impression with little stage time.  Portraying the antagonist, Evilene, Imani Brown was able to pull comedy from her lines and executed her role well. She showcased her raspy, yet powerful voice in, “No Bad News.” Opposite of Brown was Lackrishan Campbell, who arrived in style to play her popular sister, Addapearle. Campbell was an audience favorite with her swank, humorous character.

From the eleven ensembles in the show, two stood out: the Poppies and the Monkeys. Unlike other ensembles, both radiated energy and characterization. Both also worked well as a whole, playing off each other and reacting accordingly to what was going on in the scene.

Although the orchestra sometimes overpowered the actors, they played the jazzy, R&B music with finesse. Even with a large cast and many ensembles, costumes were impressively executed, as was makeup. The overhead projector was used very efficiently. It not only set the scene by projecting different backgrounds onto a backdrop, but also added funky animation to sense the beat of a song.

Come, “ease on down the road,” to Dillard Center for the Arts to catch a heartfelt performance of The Wiz. You are going to want to see “a whole lot of wiz-ness business”!

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By Michelle Malove of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Ease on down the road with Dillard High School’s cast of “The Wiz” as the Lion, Tinman, Scarecrow, and Dorothy take you on a journey to find and kill the Wicked Witch of the West!

Based on L. Frank Baum’s classic 1900 children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Charlie Smalls and William F. Brown created “The Wiz: The Super Soul Musical ‘Wonderful Wizard of Oz'” in the context of African-American culture. Opening on October 21st 1974, this Broadway production won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Original Score, in 1975. “The Wiz” tells the story of Dorothy, a young girl living on a farm in Kansas with her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, until a violent tornado whisks her away to the Land of Oz. In order to get home, Dorothy travels along the yellow brick road in her magical silver slippers, meeting the Scarecrow, Tinman, and Lion who journey with her to see the powerful Wizard of Oz.

Dillard High School’s production captured the jazzy and soulful essence of “The Wiz” with such vibrancy in all aspects of the show. Fantastic consistency was displayed among all the characters from the colorful ensemble to that of the leads, all of which were supported by the brilliant jazz music of the orchestra.

Playing the leading role of Dorothy, Paris Webster carried the show with her dazzling smile, fluid dancing techniques, and soulful singing voice. She provided eminent youthfulness in the portrayal of her character and showed genuine chemistry with the other characters. Another notable performer was Toddrick Graham as The Wiz. His striking stage presence followed by powerful riffs in his singing voice really conveyed the broad traits of The Wiz.

Much of the production’s success can be credited to the performances of the Lion and Scarecrow. Davion Jones (Lion) and Mikayla Queeley (Scarecrow) supplied an astounding amount of energy and enthusiasm, adding consistent character with every movement. Their admirable singing voices, especially in the song “Mean Ole Lion,” were effortlessly put to work while their natural dancing techniques sharpened the songs. On the more comedic side, these two performers manifested hilarious facials and reactions, truly committing to their characters, and further enhancing the final product of “The Wiz.” The works of the animalistic ensemble, known as The Monkeys, created a strong foundation to the leads, as well as the sassy performance of Evilene, played by Imani Brown.

Visually enhancing the imagery of the show, the beautiful make up design by Grace Sindaco and the impressive costume design of Caroline Campos amplified all aspects of the show with coherent colors and exquisite patterns of all sorts. Following the colors on stage were the exceptional colors of music created by the DCA Jazz Orchestra, giving great resonance throughout the entire theater.

Dillard High School’s production of “The Wiz” was an astonishing journey that transported the audience to the Emerald City to meet the great, the powerful, and the wonderful Wizard of Oz.

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By Haley Amann of Coral Glades High School

Come and ease on down the road to join Dorothy, Lion, Tinman and Scarecrow on the classic journey in the production of “The Wiz”, music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls, and book by William F. Brown. The students at Dillard Center for the Arts certainly filled the room with life and color in the retelling of the classic story of “The Wizard of Oz” in an African-American context.

The show is based off of the urban re-imagining of L. Frank Baum’s classic 1900 children’s novel “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” Opening in 1975, “The Wiz” ran for four years on Broadway and won seven Tony awards, including best musical. It was then adapted into a film and released in 1978.

Leading the journey along the yellow brick road was Dorothy played by Paris Webster. Webster remained true to her character throughout her performance with exuberant energy. Playing her counterpart as the mysterious Wiz was Toddrick Graham. Graham displayed a solid vocal performance throughout the night shining through solos like “So You Wanted to Meet the Wizard” and “Believe In Yourself.”

Familiar faces came into the picture when Dorothy commenced her journey on the yellow brick road. Mikayla Queeley as the Scarecrow had eloquent projection and articulation with elastic physicality. Imani Brissett played the Tinman and displayed a robotic physicality emphasizing what his character entails; this was featured splendidly in his dance solo in “Slide Some Oil to Me.” Davion James playing the “Mean Ole Lion” had spot on comedic timing and left the audience in stitches throughout his performance with vigorous energy. All the principles had stellar vocals that brought the fun and upbeat music to life. Every actor exceedingly committed to their characters physicality and had remarkable stage presence whenever on stage.

Other memorable performances were Imani Brown as Evilene and Yasharwan Blain as the Gate Keeper; both were highlighted in their brief yet memorable stage time by executing their moments gracefully. Brown had a soulful singing voice with a sassy and rousing character while Blain brought comical moments to the show.

The technical aspects of the show enforced the overall production value by adding creative components such as unique costumes and a simplistic set. Each costume well differentiated the various ensembles and the principles vibrant personalities. Considering the fast and upbeat music, the orchestra had a commendable performance without missing a beat. At times there wasn’t a complete balance between the microphones and orchestra, but overall the performers were heard by the audience.

There was “No Bad News” about Dillard’s production of “The Wiz.” The cast and crew brought justice to creative twist on the timeless classic.

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By Aysha Zackria of NSU University School

Super soulful music, a classic tale about discovering who you are, and high spirits meet seamlessly in Dillard Center for the Arts’s production of The Wiz!

Dorothy and her new-found friends, Scarecrow, Tinman, and Lion follow the Yellow Brick Road in hopes of getting what each of their hearts most desires. The supposedly omnipotent and wonderful Wizard of Oz, known in this adaptation simply as The Wiz, is supposed to grant their wishes. First created in L. Frank Baum’s iconic children’s book in 1900, William F. Brown then rewrote and urbanized the classic tale, and with music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls, the soulful musical adaptation came to be in 1974, and won 7 Tony Awards and 5 Drama Desk Awards.

Paris Webster, as Dorothy, had a beautiful softness and fluidity in her speech and movements. Throughout the show and especially in her solo, “Home,” her childlike innocence was constant and apparent. Toddrick Graham, playing The Wiz, had a voice that conveyed the awesome power of his character. His large and flamboyant movements made him stand out from the rest of the cast. Conversely, when his true nature was revealed, he instantaneously became casual and relatable.

Scarecrow and Lion, played by Mikayla Queeley and Davion Jones, respectively, brought hilarious animation and quirkiness into the show. Queeley sang and danced in character wonderfully, but her comedic and purposeful actions and reactions to other characters are what really made her delightful to watch in songs like “I Was Born On the Day Before Yesterday” and “Ease On Down the Road”. The same is true for Jones, who made the audience roar with bold ad-libs that referenced pop culture. His solo “Mean Ole Lion” was filled to the brim with flair and pizzazz, as it was written to be. Imani Brissett, playing Tinman, skillfully executed the tap dancing in his solo “Slide Some Oil to Me,” as bit by bit, Tinman regained his ability to move.

Imani Brown, playing Evilene, portrayed an unafraid wicked witch perfectly. Her body language and fluid movement defined the character. Reflecting the beauty of the show’s musical concept, her voice was warm, rich, and strong. Everett Oats, playing Winged Monkey, was energetic, but still had the intense darkness that his role required. Though some members of the cast weren’t always in character, the entire Monkey ensemble was fully in character, present, and reacting.

The costumes distinguished character groups and made the show visually appealing. The orchestra flawlessly performed a large number of difficult pieces and stayed in sync with the singers throughout the entire musical. Though sometimes there wasn’t balance between the vocalists and orchestra, the stronger singers made it possible to appreciate the music as a whole.

After seeing this fantastical production, the audience didn’t simply drive away, they “eased on down the road”.

 

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By Danella Moncaliano of The Sagemont School

“The Wiz,” book by William F. Brown and music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls, was performed by Dillard Center for the Arts and took the audience in a new direction when exploring the Wonderful World of Oz. “The Wiz: The Super Soul Musical” opened on Broadway on January 5, 1975 and ran until January 28, 1979 for a total of 1,672 performances. The production won seven Tony awards, and it opened the door for people to start accepting the works of an all-black cast.

The Lion (Davion Jones) had exceptional stage presence throughout the entire show, which could have been predicted from the moment he stepped out onto the stage. Jones did an excellent job of portraying a cowardly, sassy, and ironically confident lion and had exquisite comedic timing. There was not a moment on the stage he was not acting to his fullest potential. Jones displayed wonderful characterization during his song “Mean Ole Lion”, and a magnificent singing voice which added even more character and personality to his overall performance.

Both Tinman (Imani Brissett) and Scarecrow (Mikayla Queeley) embodied their characters and presented them with passion, motivation, and a purpose. Brissett revealed his marvelous singing voice in “To Be Able to Feel,” in which he displayed amazing vocal power, sang in falsetto, and kept character. Queeley committed strongly to her character through her constant stage falls. She did a superb job during her song “I Was Born on the Day Before Yesterday” in which she was consistent with her stunts and displayed dynamic vocals without any unsteadiness in her singing.

Each and every one of the costumes was unique and special in its own way. The entire cast was dressed beautifully in an array of different colors and styles which helped bring energy to the stage. The ensemble was full of talented dancers, but could have improved its motivation throughout the show. Many ensemble members kept a plain face during the entire show while dancing and performing their roles in the background. About three or four members of the ensemble showed emotion to what was currently happening in the scene. The ensemble with the most developed group of characters were the Monkeys. They were all energetic, full of life, and never seemed to keep still or stop acting during their time on stage.

Evilene (Imani Brown) truly immersed herself into her character and was larger than life. She made sure that it was known that she was in charge when she took on the stage. Brown had glorious stage presence and body language during her performance. Brown flaunted her remarkable vocal power during the song “No Bad News” in which she showed admirable characterization and gave a reason to fear her.

Each lead showed magnificent character development and breathtaking emotion during the entire production. They showed their emotions and their struggles. They were all after something they wanted and felt they could not reach it. In the end, when at last they met their goal, they truly showed us the importance of why you need to “Believe in Yourself.”

Reviews of Once On This Island at Cardinal Gibbons High School on 11/12/2015

By Diego De le Espriella of American Heritage School

In a land of tropical rhythms where mythological figures roam, Love is still able to conquer Death. This perseverance of love was pleasantly portrayed at Cardinal Gibbons High School’s production of Once on this Island Jr. this past week.

Originally produced at Playwrights Horizons in 1990, it quickly moved to Broadway and was nominated for eight Tony Awards in 1991. The timeless musical by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens beautifully blends classical tales such as Romeo and Juliet and The Little Mermaid set against the backdrop of a socially divided Caribbean island. When a peasant girl falls in love with a wealthy young man, the Gods intervene to see which is stronger: love or death.

Cardinal Gibbons’ depiction of the show was greatly supported by their use of theater in real time. From the moment the audience entered the theater the ensemble was moving around the stage, constantly performing even when a scene was not occurring. This directorial choice highlighted the acting ability of the ensemble, they did not usually break character and gave the show a sense of realism and consistency that is sometimes lacking from the rather larger-than-life show.

AnaÏs Mamary portrays Ti Moune, the love struck peasant girl who is prepared to do anything for her love. While Mamary’s vocal and acting capabilities were positively received, it was her incredible dancing that truly impressed. Multiple times throughout the show she showed a deep understanding of the dancing styles of Caribbean culture and executed those styles in a seemingly effortless manner during the song “The Ball”, which was a captivating experience. Patrick Gallagher plays Papa Ge, the narcissistic and slightly sadistic God of Death. His eerie and intense portrayal of the demonic antagonist never wavered and he stayed connected to every character on stage, constantly playing with the bodies and souls of the peasants during the entire show.

Other notable performances were displayed by Emily Tallman and Skylar Sorenson who portrayed Asaka and Ezrulie, respectively. Tallman’s vocal delivery and musicality were some of the strongest aspects of the show, highlighted in the frenetic and charming “Mama Will Provide”. Her earthy characterization and grounded movements were a pleasant contrast to Ezrulie’s flowing and gentle nature. Sorenson’s kind and evoking voice was a moving experience during the romantic number “The Human Heart”.

Technically, the show ran in a smooth manner. Occasionally, some cues were missed but the cast was refreshingly adaptive and were able to continue the show without falter. Pablo Murray-Campbell’s logo design cannot go without mention, a truly remarkable creation that has a nearly-professional polish and coupled with a well thought out social media publicity campaign, was sure to draw in large crowds for the show.

Cardinal Gibbons’ Once on this Island Jr. was an overall enjoyable work of theater, transporting its audience to a magical world of Gods and true love.

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By Taylor Fish of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

On an island of social divisions where peasants mercilessly pray to the gods and dance to simply stay alive, one small girl stirs the balance of the delicate social class system. Cardinal Gibbons High School’s production of Once on this Island, Jr. exemplifies the need to choose one’s dreams with care.

Based on Rosa Guy’s 1985 novel My Love, My Love, Once on this Island first graced the Broadway stage with its Caribbean flavor on October 18, 1990, running for well over a year and collecting a total of eight Tony nominations. This one-act musical, with book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and score by Stephen Flaherty, transports the audience to a faithful island in the French Antilles where the young peasant Ti Moune, rescued by the will of the gods, discovers her purpose in the fate of a wealthy grandhomme named Daniel Beauxhomme, whom she rehabilitates with her “peasant magic” after his terrible car accident during the gods’ storm. The division in their social classes disrupts the common beliefs of this island’s two different worlds and brings into question the ability of love to conquer death in the face of prejudice.

Cardinal Gibbons High School encapsulated the charm of the Caribbean through the liveliness and vocal capabilities of the ensemble. In addition to their constant presence on stage to create an authenticity for the production’s location, their vivacious commitment to the island choreography and amplitude in the dynamic harmonies constructed the most enthralling moments of the show during each group number.

While Anaïs Mamary’s youthful portrayal of Ti Moune successfully captured the innocence of her character, the true apex of her performance lied within her mesmerizing flexibility and poise during “Ti Moune’s Dance.” Throughout the show, Mamary expressed her characterization through her commanding grace of her physicality, frequently displaying Ti Moune’s good nature with an insuppressible swing of her hips. Her performance at the grandhomme’s ball demonstrated the pinnacle of her ability to captivate a crowd, whether it be onstage or off.

The accelerating development of the production is credited to the large characterizations and the effervescent engagement of the four gods. The inflated personalities of Emily Tallman (Asaka), Brandon Caradonna (Agwe), Skylar Sorenson (Erzulie), and Patrick Gallagher (Papa Ge) assisted their presence as an omnipotent group among the more feeble characterizations of the ensemble. Each expanding on the story of Ti Moune with poignant solos of varying motivations, the gods soared in their vocal aptitudes, specifically recognizable in Tallman’s deliverance. Her flamboyant portrayal of Asaka’s “Mama Will Provide” was outwardly astounding, from her physicality as the ostentatious motherly figure to her unending vocal range.

From the innovative set to the clarity of sound, the technical aspects of the show appeared faultless. Other than a few arguable clothing aspects in the gods’ appearances, the costumes aided the believability of the production, the ragged clothing of the storytellers especially. The cast made commendable use of the set, creating levels of vision to distinguish the different locations in which events occurred during the performance.

The performance of Once on this Island, Jr. at Cardinal Gibbons High School truly displays the strength of love against the power of death and serves as a reminder as to why we tell the story.

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By Claudia Moncaliano of The Sagemont School

The ocean brought them sand, the sand led them to a tree, and the tree brought them…a girl? “Once On This Island Jr.” tells the story of an orphaned peasant girl searching for her purpose in life after being found in a tree by her adoptive parents. Written and composed by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, the original Broadway production of “Once on This Island,” based on Rosa Guy’s “My Love, My Love,” ran from 1990 to 1991 and went on to win the Olivier Award for Best New Musical in 1995.

Cardinal Gibbons High School showed a high level of skill and dramaturgy by engaging in real-time theater, enhancing the junior version. Even before the director’s opening speech, the island storytellers invited us into their lives, filling the stage with their rich culture and vibrant traditions. They soon became real-life storytellers, sharing a tale of love versus death on the French Antilles. But it didn’t end there. Before our very eyes, actors changed positions, body language, and characterization, sitting us down at the island gathering to hear the story of Ti Moune (Anaïs Mamary), without a blackout or curtain close to cease their brilliant execution.

Mamary charmed us with her graceful yet powerful tribal rhythm as she danced and fell in love with Daniel Beauxhomme (Ciaran Soden). With a classic Romeo and Juliet origin, these two could never be, but together Mamary and Soden convinced otherwise during their synchronized dance to “The Human Heart” where they connected in a way only lovers can.

With undeniable stage presence, the island Gods of Earth, Love, Death, and Water led the islanders’ movements and actions as they helped tell the story. The entire cast traveled the course of the story with a vivid musicality that enhanced the energy of the production. Papa Ge (Patrick Gallagher), God of Death, in particular made the island tremble with fear as he threatened such islanders’ lives and battled with Erzulie (Skylar Sorenson), Goddess of Love.

While some sound issues became a minor distraction to the performance, standout characters such as Asaka (Emily Tallman), Goddess of Earth, shined through them. Tallman’s powerful vocals, elaborate characterization, and eye-catching costume, stood out in her solo, “Mama Will Provide,” and brought another layer of life and energy to the stage.

The mix of non-stop theatrical activity and well represented island culture turned Cardinal Gibbons High School’s production into a vehicle for the expression of love and loss. All together the cast drew us in with the way they chose to tell the
story and touched our hearts with the powerful moments they were able to create.

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By Dylan Redshaw of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Greetings from the Jewel of the Antilles – Cardinal Gibbon’s island with an enchanting story to tell and one small girl to assist in telling it.

Based on Rosa Guy’s My Love, My Love, Once on This Island premiered on Broadway in 1990. The following year, the show was nominated for eight TONY awards and in 1995 it won the Olivier Award for Best New Musical. With book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and music by Stephen Flaherty, the show impressed audiences right from the start. Once on This Island succeeds in telling the tale of a young, peasant girl named Ti Moune as she commences on a quest, given by the Gods, to prove that the power of love is stronger than death.

Cardinal Gibbon’s Once on This Island Jr. was simply delightful. Anaïs Mamary achieved the vivacious spirit of Ti Moune with her lovely vocals and her fantastic dance skills. Mamary’s rhythm in “Ti Moune’s Dance” was absolutely incredible. Each of her moves blended flawlessly with the next and her solo moved fluently. Papa Ge, self-described as “the sly demon of death”, was depicted by Patrick Gallagher, who heightened the energy with his booming, effective voice and impressive intonations. Whether Gallagher was using his dynamic movements or projecting his malevolent laugh, he had utter control of his character throughout the entirety of the show.

Other notable performances included the balance of the gods. Skylar Sorenson as the Goddess of Love, Erzulie, accomplished many admirable moments and projected a beautiful, intense voice. Emily Tallman, as the Goddess of Earth, Asaka, commanded the audience’s attention in her breathtaking song, “Mama Will Provide.” Tallman delivered sublime vocals and had a resplendent presence onstage. The God of Water, Agwe, portrayed by Brandon Caradonna, provided a clear, articulate singing voice with his striking notes in “And the Gods Heard Her Prayer/Rain”.

As a whole, the ensemble was a very important factor in this show. The group provided alluring pictures and created magnificent harmonies that stood out impeccably. The dance numbers were truly phenomenal and helped to boost the vigor of the show. The cast altogether was adept and connected ideally with one another.

The cast used the set to their advantage as it aided in establishing the tropical island setting. Make up, by Catie Babin and Stephanie Bidwill, was designed with utmost detail and was extremely pleasing to the eye. Although there were slight sound issues, each actor worked around them and continued to carry out their lines or songs.

All in all, the students of Cardinal Gibbons executed their bright, Caribbean-flavored show, Once on This Island, Jr., with great finesse and prodigious talent.

 

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By Emily Hunsucker of Boca Raton High School

The hierarchy of theatre goes God(s), Director, Stage Manager, and then crew/cast. But in Cardinal Gibbon’s performance of “Once on This Island, Jr.”, that hierarchy was changed when the actors became actual gods and goddesses, meddling in the lives of mortals to create this stunning show.

“Once on This Island” was originally staged as an Off-Broadway show in 1990 until the production would open on Broadway that same year where it was nominated for eight Tony Awards and winning a Theatre World Award in 1991. “Once on This Island” is a story of a peasant girl’s life, pain, love, grief, faith, and hope. With many captivating numbers, the junior version is a more condensed show, combining and cutting down certain numbers to make it more appropriate for younger and conservative audiences allowing a large range of people to enjoy this show.

Anaïs Mamary, as Ti Moune, captivated the audience with her stunning dance moves that had a little bit of island flair in each step. She offered a great portrayal of a girl on a journey for love with hints of Romeo and Juliet in her performance making her the protagonist the audience was rooting for from her start. The gods Agwe, Asaka, Papa Ge, and Erzulie, played by Brandon Caradonna, Emily Tallman, Patrick Gallagher, and Skylar Sorenson, respectively, played a huge part in the show. They all were able to convey the power needed to assert themselves above the Storytellers. Each one played a major part in the story and, while some had a smaller role, their impact on the story was not a small one. Ague had a captivating number where he brought the lovers together in “Rain”, Papa Ge makes her choose between love and life in “And the Gods Heard Her Prayer”, Erzulie gives the lovers the gift of love in “Human Heart”, and Asaka turns Ti Moune into a tree in “A Part of Us”.

This show was brought to life with the beautiful execution of the Caribbean culture portrayed through the hip movements and singing of the cast. It was evident that the ensemble really got into this show; during the pre-show and intermission they were able to bring up and keep up the energy, never letting the audience leave that island. Even when they were in the background of the stage, they were an asset to the overall scene; watching the story unfold gave an interactive and dynamic feel to the show. Since this was a no-blackout show, many of the ensemble were also named characters. Ti Moune’s parents, played by Carlie Wright and Nathan Vogel, moved from agile Storytellers to a frail, elderly couple in seconds with no makeup or clothing changes. The rich character of Daniel Beauxhomme, played by Ciaran Soden, was a great foil to his secondary character as a poor Storyteller showing the versatility of, not only this actor, but much of the ensemble.

No show is complete without a competent tech crew, and under the leadership of Reagan Shaw, the crew was able to further transport the audience into the jungles of the Caribbean. While some cues seemed misplaced, the lovely lighting scheme accompanied by quick sound cues conveyed a clear message of the scene and, from thunder storms scenes to making deals with the devil, the theatre was brought to life. The beautiful costumes further conveyed the time and place of the musical while also enhancing the character of each cast member; rugged clothes that allowed for versatility in not only character choice but also their choreography giving the overall technical side of this production a neat little bow on top.

Overall, this show was a lovely spectacle full of a fun cast of characters and spot on technical aspects that made it enjoyable to watch and kept the audience engaged and showed everyone why they tell their story.

Reviews of Hotel Paradiso at JP Taravella on 11/07/2015


By Mandy Figueroa of Somerset Academy Arts Conservatory

hotellg“What a night!” is what everyone says when they check out of the Hotel Paradiso. The show takes place in 19th century Paris and revolves around two married people who wish to engage in an affair. Monsieur Boniface and Madame Cot check into the small, discreet Parisian hotel to commence their affair, but unbeknownst to them, several friends are also staying in the same hotel. This leads to a flurry of comedic situations and encounters conducted by a variety of vibrant characters.

JP Taravella High School’s production of “Hotel Paradiso” was nothing short of perfect. The consistency of patterns and props throughout the stage made for a believable setting for the story. Throughout the acts, several lighting techniques were used in successfully in highlighting different rooms and scenes. Every door open was perfectly timed and in sync with one another; but the tech of this production was not alone in its glory.

The cast of “Hotel Paradiso” had the audience constantly cackling at their timing and slap-stick comedy. Dashawn Perry, who portrayed our protagonist, Monsieur Boniface, commanded the audience’s attention every time he spoke. Despite having to deliver a number of lines, Perry never fumbled on his articulation or memorization, and the use of his face, body, and vocal volume resulted in a hilarious and authentic leading-man.

Perry was not the only skilled actor contributing to this show. Taylor Barth, who played Angelique, Boniface’s wife, and Alex Montesino, who portrayed Marcelle, Boniface’s lover, were able to command a comedic reaction from the audience collaboratively and separately. Hagan Oliveras, who portrayed Marcelle’s anxious nephew, hilariously executed an awkward and tension-filled relationship with the house maid.

Once we get to the hotel, we encounter several other energetic characters who contribute to the humor of the show. Georges, played by Daniel Agmon, was the center of frantic energy as a young bellhop. The hotel manager Anniello, played by Kevin-Cruz Capella, mastered an Italian accent and displayed a pleasing performance and chemistry with Agmon.

The mastery of the fourth-wall break did not go unnoticed and added an emphasis to the hilarious text in the show. Although some accents in the show were unclear and inconsistent, the actors’ articulation and portrayal of these characters masked any weakness.  Overall, the collaborative work of these hilarious and talented actors, plus outstanding technical aspects, made for a night no-one will forget.

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By Maya Quinones of Deerfield Beach High School

Welcome to the Hotel Paradiso! Set down your luggage, take off your coat, and prepare to experience the night of your life. With cigar smoking ghosts, an Italian peeping tom, and a mass arrest, this hotel is no Embassy Suites. JP Taravella’s hysterical production of Hotel Paradiso checks us into the frantic inn and won’t let us leave until we’ve laughed our shoes off.

Written by George Feydeau and Maurice Desvallieres, Hotel Paradiso has not only stood the test of time, but has also broken the language barrier. Originally written in French as “L’Hôtel du libre échange,” the farce premiered in 1894, making its Broadway debut in 1957. Set in 19th century France, Hotel Paradiso follows the secret affair of Monsieur Boniface and Madame Cot. When the two adulterous lovers check into the infamous Hotel Paradiso, they must escape the familiar faces who have also decided to spend the night.

Dashawn Perry plays the clever and cunning architect, Benedict Boniface, leading the show’s antics with a mistaken identity here and a punch in the face there. Perry demonstrates exceptional comedic ability, never missing a beat throughout the play’s rapidly paced three acts. With an occasional aside, Perry engages the audience and turns a truly despicable character into one to root for. Marcelle Cot, the object of Boniface’s desires, is played by Alex Montesino. Montesino embodies the neglected wife with energy and clarity. The two have remarkable chemistry and successfully carried the performance with their impressive physicality and dedication to their lively characters.

Kevin Cruz-Capella and Daniel Agmon prove that a devious Italian and an anxious bellhop can make a perfect team. Both gentleman portray characters with foreign accents; the Italian Anniello (Capella) and British Georges (Agmon.) This challenge, however, did not at all hinder the actors.  Their speech remained articulate and consistent throughout the performance.

Monsieur Martin, played by Anthony Pompey, has a particularly strange speech impediment, a stutter that only appears during inclement weather. Pompey successfully stuttered his way through the performance, hilariously bringing the mayhem to a satisfying conclusion. His four daughters played by Jennifer deFreitas, Ashleigh Henderson, Carmen Bulthuis, and Rachel Ihaz were also truly adorable.

A revolving set alternates from the Boniface home to the Hotel Paradiso, optimizing the stage space. The set successfully and seamlessly transformed without the hassle. The costumes were also appropriate for the time period and pleasing to the eye. Contributing to the success of the performance, was a perfect management of microphones and execution of sound cues and effects.

With mistaken identities, hilarious misunderstandings, and the occasional poltergeist, JP Taravella’s Hotel Paradiso provides a theatrical experience that is not only side-splittingly funny, but also truly memorable. Once you check into the Hotel Paradiso, you won’t want to check out any time soon.

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By Kayla Goldfarb of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Only in Hotel Paradiso can one observe a scandalous rendezvous gone awry, a terrible case of mistaken identity, and even a haunted suite!  With several other hilariously gone wrong situations, the students of JP Taravella High School brought to life this production with great panache.

Originally entitled L’Hôtel du Libre échange, Georges Feydeau and Maurice Desavallieres crafted this comedic masterpiece way back in 1894. The show follows two neighbors who wish to embark on an extramarital affair, however things are never that simple.  Hilarity ensues when a series of complications arise, forcing them to check out before an actual affair could even occur!

In this ensemble based production, the entire cast deserves applause.  Every actor, whether speaking or not, was truly living in the moment.  Despite a few line stumbles, the actors upheld the fast paced tempo without fail.

At the center of the story was Boniface (Dashawn Perry) who was nothing less than spectacular.  Perry had powerful presence and commanded the stage.  Not only was his comedic timing impeccable, but his facial expressions and mannerisms also displayed overall control of his character.  Alongside him was Alex Montesino (Marcelle) as the central female character.  In a farce such as Hotel Paradiso, actors are expected to be able to handle the material, but Montesino’s grasp on comedy made her a stand out.  She deserves praise for her ability to switch from incredulous to embarrassed seamlessly as well as handle the over the top moments of Marcelle without making them appear overacted.

Despite not appearing for an entire act, Taylor Barth (Angelique) left an exceptional impression.  Her humor extended past her line delivery to her body language as well.  Hagan Oliveras (Maxime) depicted his odd character with great skill, making the awkward nature of the young nephew appear completely natural.  Beside Oliveras was Stephanie Aguirre (Victoire) as the provocative maid.  Their comfort with one another allowed their moments together to shine as they never seemed forced.  Kevin Cruz-Capella (Anniello) is also worth mentioning for his consistency both with his character and Italian accent, which never once wavered.

Technically, the show was flawless.  Elements such as props and lighting were highly specific to detail.  In a period piece such as this, technical details can really make or break the show, so kudos to everyone backstage!

Consider the time spent at JP Taravella’s Hotel Paradiso time well spent as we definitely enjoyed our stay.  What a night!

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By Erin Cary of NSU University School

An unsuccessful affair, an abundance of mix-ups, and a shady, Parisian hotel! Hilarity is sure to be found onstage at JP Taravella in their stunning production of Hotel Paradiso.

Written in 1894 by Georges Feydeau and Maurice Desavallieres, Hotel Paradiso follows the story of a married Frenchman and his best friend’s wife who rendezvous at a dodgy, but discreet Parisian hotel. Although their intentions are less than honorable, trouble ensues when the pair notices that the hotel’s other occupants all have familiar faces.  Their new goal becomes to escape unnoticed! The three act farce first premiered in December of 1894 at the Théâtre des Nouveautés in Paris. The version performed at JP Taravella was translated into English by Peter Glenville in the 1950’s.

The leads of the production carried the show with impeccable charm. Dashawn Perry, as Monsieur Boniface, captured the audience from the very beginning. His constant enthusiasm, diverse intonation, and hilarious physicality ensured that the show was always far from boring. Alex Montesino, as Marcelle Cot, impressed onlookers with her strong diction and unyielding naturalism. Whether kissing her lover or just picking up a fallen candle, she never let her character falter. Perry and Montesino worked well jointly, creating an impressive and realistic dynamic. They easily fell together in little moments and in driving scenes, making their performances even funnier and more authentic.

The actors playing the two lovers’ unappreciated spouses, Taylor Barth (Angelique Boniface) and Mohamad Attalah (Monsieur Cot), added another layer of comedy to the show. Barth’s motions and demeanor accurately portrayed that of a frazzled wife. Attalah exhibited constant energy, commanding the audience’s attention.  Hagan Oliveras, as the young nephew Maxime, received bursts of laughs every time he walked on stage. Through his physicality and bold choices, he created a clear character arch while maintaining his charming naivety. Anthony Pompey, as Monsieur Martin, effectively exaggerated his weather-induced stutter, adding another element of farce to the performance.

Kevin Cruz-Capella (Anniello) and Daniel Agmon (Georges) both executed brilliant comedic reactions and consistently strong accents. With just one word, they had the audience rolling with laughter. Stephanie Aguirre, as the promiscuous maid Victoire, also helped to solidify the show’s hilarity. The four daughters of Monsieur Martin created a beautiful dynamic on stage, with clear and lovable connections between all of them. Their engagement and vigor was eye-catching and appreciated. The strong chemistry between almost every member of the cast was unfaltering and compensated for any performer who may have displayed unimpressive diction.

The show’s sound and lighting added an elegance to each scene, evenly flowing with no noticeable mishaps. The stage management and crew did a sufficient job, properly executing the few changes they had. Props and makeup appeared to be period-appropriate, and effectively contributed to the performance.

During the entire show, a beautiful energy flowed throughout the theater. The combination of enthusiasm, humor, strength, and talent made for a very pleasant stay at JP Taravella’s Hotel Paradiso.

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By Kalei Tischler of South Plantation High School

“What a night!” Love affairs, haunted bedrooms, crazy goose chases, and endless comedic moments can all be found in JP Taravella High School’s enticing performance of “Hotel Paradiso”!

First produced in 1894, “Hotel Paradiso”, written by Georges Feydeau and Maurice Desavallieres, takes place in 19th century Paris. The story begins in the Boniface residence, where Mr. Boniface claims that he wants to engage in an affair with Marcelle, his best friend Mr. Cot’s wife. The two check into Hotel Paradiso, with intentions of staying the night, but come across several complications that prevent them from getting as far as even a kiss. They get into trouble and have to jump through hoops to keep their spouses from finding out about their secret affair.

The cast worked as a collective whole to create and sustain an energy that could not be destroyed. Roles that varied from leads to features were treated with equal commitment, each actor staying true to their character. The relationships between the leads were heartfelt and realistic. Their comedic timing was flawless and uproarious.

Dashawn Perry was very successful in capturing the essence of Boniface, a charming and witty architect. Alex Montesino also did a wonderful job of portraying Marcelle, Mr. Boniface’s secret lover. Montesino’s performance was entertaining and realistic.  The two worked well together and they each were very quick to hit their punch lines.

The stage presence of both Angelique, played by Taylor Barth, and Maxime, played by Hagan Oliveras, was strong. Georges, the skittish and awkward bell hop, played by Daniel Agmon, was hilarious in each line that he delivered. All of the Porters did a phenomenal job in creating comedic moments solely through their physicality,

The technical aspects of “Hotel Paradiso” were outstanding. The lighting and sound was never an issue. The set was inviting and simplistic in Act One and Three, and entirely intriguing in Act Two.

JP Taravella High School’s production was beyond captivating. Come stay a night with the cast, it will leave you feeling “splendid”!

Reviews of To Kill A Mockingbird at Pine Crest School on Friday, 11/6/2015


By Nickolas Kewla of Pompano Beach High School

“It’s a Sin To Kill a Mockingbird”. The phase still sits in audience’s mind because this performance of “To Kill A Mockingbird” left the crowd speechless in awe. From the heart warming supporting characters, such as Dill (Sammy Koolik), to the main character, Atticus Finch (Tommy Sullivan), the play left a soft spot in your chest that you will feel.

“To Kill A Mockingbird” is set in Alabama, 1935. The performance explorers a trail between two races when racism was still tolerated. Tom Robinson (Kunya Rowley) an African American man, is falsely accused by a white woman named Mayella (Brittyn Bonham).  Following the adventures and life experiences of Scout (Cayleigh Pine) and Jem (Zack Shevin), the Pine Crest adaptation was praised by the audience for pushing the boundaries of a high school play. To take on such a serious topic was carried out in smart way.

The stage was decorated using beautifully made props that had a light blue theme that spoke serenity. The swing set and houses were placed in a way that the audience could understand the scene changes and storyline.  As the story went on, the characters got deeper and the lines got more real and wise. Each cast member flawlessly executed their lines in a way that flowed and that kept everyone interested and immersed.   The movements of the play felt needed and in place. Everyone who was on stage was clearly seen and the blocking felt like I was watching real life people. Lighting and sound were perfection as everything was seen and heard on the stage. The cast members of Pine Crest really brought the To Kill A Mockingbird characters to life in their dramatic journey of arts.

Standouts of the play include Scout, played by Cayleigh Pine, who was always active on stage and made us feel a connection to her character. Atticus Finch, played by Tommy Sullivan, also had very long, wise monologues that intrigued the audience and pushed the story alongside to its climax. The lights turned off and all we saw was the moon shining on stage. The scene built suspense and was scary in itself. This proved that this stage performance was everything because it had drama, comedy, and even suspense! I have to give the biggest praise to the ensemble cast. This is because even when they were not using microphones, the crowd still heard them crystal clear because of the projection. This skill is something each member of the cast possessed.

“To Kill A Mocking Bird”, by Pine Crest, is well worth your time. The excitement and feeling in your heart it will give you makes you think a lot about life. The overall theme and colors spoke to you and gave you a 1930s’ feel. Thank you for putting on a show that the audience and I will never forget.

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By Michael Valladares of Cypress Bay High School

Pine Crest School’s production of “To Kill a Mockingbird” brought a beautiful, classic, coming of age story from the page to the stage. Dealing with the heavy themes of racial injustice, segregation, and classism, Pine Crest helped audiences understand why “it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

“To Kill a Mockingbird” is based on the book by Harper Lee published in 1960. Because of its use of “the n-word” the book has been banned from many reading lists, or had its contents changed to make the book more palatable. Pine Crest made a strong decision to keep the word in their production, and its stinging effect is a perfect justification for doing so. The story of “To Kill a Mockingbird” is well-known and timeless: a young girl, Scout Finch, describes and lives her life in the Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama. Her father, the infinitely wise Atticus Finch, has been tasked with defending a black man in court during a time when a white man’s word was enough to get a black man killed.

Pine Crest’s production began with an original song by Sarah Gale that provided stark contrast to the feel of the time period of “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Gale has a beautiful voice, and the power of her song instantly excites audiences in anticipation of what is to come.

Leading the bulk of the show is Cayleigh Pine as Scout. Pine commanded the stage with a strong Southern characterization: from her spot-on accent to her tomboyish mannerisms, Pine truly embraced Scout’s character. Her relationship with her brother Jem, played by Zack Shevin, is well executed as well. Joining the two children in their summer adventures is Dill, Sammy Koolik, whose spot on comedic timing and hilarious stage presence provide comedic relief from the intensity of the show. Koolik is no one trick pony, showing the many dimensions that Dill has and commanding a complete grasp of the character’s melancholy background. The contrast between adult and child was clearly evident in actors’ mannerisms. Atticus, played by Tommy Sullivan, is the wise old man of the story. Sullivan enunciated every word, so the audience didn’t miss a pinch of Atticus’s insightful dialogue. Nicole Thraum played the hackneyed Mrs. Dubose, and commanded attention and laughter the few times she graced the stage. While some actors broke their accents or seemed somewhat robotic, Pine Crest nonetheless had a strong cast.

Pine Crest’s lighting design was distracting at times, though there was clever use of it in depicting the time. A few sound problems occurred during the show, but the stage managers showed ingenuity in getting it fixed very quickly. Scene changes were organic, and very quick, even when removing twenty chairs from the stage.

Pine Crest’s production of “To Kill a Mockingbird” is far more than a baby step when it comes to bringing racial themes into the South Florida high school theaters. Pine Crest left audiences with a stunning reminder of the dark racial past of the United States.

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By Samantha Gaynor of Coral Glades High School

While it may be a sin to kill a mockingbird, it was certainly a joy to see Pine Crest’s moving production of the show, “To Kill A Mockingbird.” With developed chemistry, powerful actors, and secure technical aspects, this production admirably conveyed the racial indignities of Maycomb, Alabama in 1935.

Author Harper Lee revolutionized the way that people viewed race when her book, “To Kill A Mockingbird” was released in 1960. She wrote about the inequalities she found all around her and turned it into a story about a lawyer named Atticus Finch who defends a black man, Tom Robinson, against the accusations of a guilty white woman-much to the chagrin of the rest of the town. Thirty years later, the strong themes of justice, innocence, and morality persisted when the play was first produced in Monroeville, Alabama.

“To Kill A Mockingbird” would not be possible without the work of Pine Crest’s capable actors. Tommy Sullivan as Atticus Finch had a commanding stage presence and more than adequately conveyed the serious and impactful man Atticus should be. The spirited chemistry among Scout (Cayleigh Pine), Jem (Zack Shevin), and Dill (Sammy Koolik) brought the show to life. Their wild energy, especially Koolik’s, kept the show upbeat despite the serious subject matter. Even during the court scene, this group stayed engaged and a unique internal conflict from each one was showcased.

Personalities from other characters like Judge Taylor (Deanna Hennelly), Mrs. Dubose (Nicole Thraum), and Maudie Atkinson (Tara Schulman) added to the production. Besides having a strong stage presence even when not speaking, Hennelly remained completely focused and involved during the court scene. Thraum’s performance as Mrs. Dubose provided comedic relief beyond the hustle and bustle of the children. Her accurate dependency on the walking cane as well as her mannerisms made her a believable elderly woman. Schulman’s sweet voice and knowing smile as Maudie created an interesting force as well. These and the other citizens of Maycomb made up a compelling audience during the court scene. While the amount of motion was distracting at times, each actor maintained their Southern character through out the show.

The simple set proved effective for the play and the characters utilized it well, notably when the children playfully hung on the railing of the front porch. The actors were very comfortable in their space, although the set could have been altered a little more to distinguish between their neighborhood and the courtroom, the rustic look fit the 1930s. The hair and makeup also fit the time period and made the characters clearly visible under the harsh light. The stage management should be commended for creatively fixing Scout’s microphone when there was a problem. Since her character never comes off stage, a crew member discretely tended to her as she ducked behind a set piece.

Commanding stage presences and a strong technical team made Pine Crest’s approach to this classic story a memorable experience. As Atticus says: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…” Well, the actors pulled the audience so much into the story that they had no choice but to have a personal connection to the show.

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By Sophia Young of Coral Glades High School

It’s not only just “black and white;” “To Kill a Mockingbird” at Pine Crest is sure to be more, with a colorful performance adapted from a well-known American classic.

Based off of the classic Harper Lee novel of the same title, “To Kill a Mockingbird” tells the story of young Scout Finch, and lawyer Atticus Finch in his endeavors defend a black man in the racially segregated 1935 Alabama. This adaption of the novel by Chrisopher Sergel debuted in 1990 in Monroeville, Alabama- the “Literary Capital of Alabama.” The play runs every May in Monroeville, and the townspeople make up the cast, and the racially segregated audience makes up the jury. The play additionally ran in London in 2006, 2011, 2013, and 2014.

Pine Crest’s production of the classic tale was overall very well done, with actors and technical aspects that exceeded the expectations one would have of a high school production.

Leading the show as Atticus Finch was Tommy Sullivan, who accurately depicted the character’s loving and fatherly persona. Playing the young Scout was Cayleigh Pine, who nailed her childish personality, as well as Jem, played by Zack Shevin. Pine impressively remained the vulnerable and advanced young girl Scout is throughout the turning events of the story. Narrating the show as an older Scout (now known as Jean Louise) was Noey Boldizsar, who provided a sweet and mature aspect to her character, while remaining connected to the action on stage.

Playing the defendant Tom Robinson was Mr. Kunya Rowley, who still precisely displayed the sweet, “guilty”, and innocent aspects that the controversial character had to offer. Bob and Mayella Ewell, played by Nicholas Tosello and Brittyn Bonham, successfully portrayed their rude, trashy, and “guilty” characters to the audience. Providing comedic relief to the show at the perfect moments were Nicole Thraum and Sammy Koolick, playing Mrs. Dubose and Dill. Making the most of her small role was Deanna Hennelly, portraying Judge Taylor, who seemed very real and connected throughout the show. All characters’ southern accents were very consistent throughout the entire show, which added to the ambiance of the setting as a whole.

The technical aspects of the show were slightly above average for a high school production, and there were few bumps throughout the show. The makeup was overall very basic, but there was a lack of aging makeup on most characters, and it seemed as if all characters were the same age. The set only contributed to the plot, and was well adapted to by all actors with much interaction between the action on stage and the physical set. The lighting was nice at most times, but some changes seemed unmotivated and unnecessary. The sound was well executed for the most part, despite a few issues with microphones going out, which was quickly and swiftly fixed by the stage crew. The stage crew successfully transformed the set between scene changes, going unnoticed by audiences.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” at Pine Crest is overall a heart-warming tale of family and doing the right thing, and would be sin to miss.

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By Nick Lopez of Cypress Bay High School

Both the spotlight and the hot Alabama sun shone brightly on the Pine Crest stage as they exercised Southern hospitality in welcoming theatre-goers into the world of one the greatest novels in American literature. Atticus Finch may have struggled to convince a judge that it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird, but when it came to translating this timeless message from the page to the stage, the audience at Pine Crest was sold long before the jury reached its verdict.

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is a faithful theatrical adaptation of the highly celebrated 1960 novel by Harper Lee, and has been performed annually in the author’s hometown of Monroeville, Alabama since its debut in 1990. The play is narrated by Jean Louise Finch (otherwise known as Scout) as she reflects on her childhood in 1930s Alabama, specifically a trial conducted by her father Atticus Finch involving the alleged rape of a white woman by a black man.

Cayleigh Pine led the production and embodied the vitality of innocence with her energetic performance as little Scout. Pine very effectively conveyed the character’s age (thanks to combination of physicality and vocal manipulation,)  a virtue that lent  humor and lightheartedness to the story, but Pine countered this earnest playfulness with impressive command of dramatic scenes to create a richly balanced performance. Pine also shared a very comfortable chemistry with Tommy Sullivan, who played Scout’s father Atticus with dignified poise and an air of maturity. Some actors lacked the stage presence that Pine consistently demonstrated; at times dialogue lacked fluidity and motivation, age portrayal was occasionally ambiguous, and interactions between characters sometimes seemed forced and contrived.

Sammy Koolik brought a refreshing effervescence as Dill, a friend of Scout.  His charming giddiness was the source of both on-point comedy and a sense heartfelt earnestness, consequently making the performance both memorable and emotionally resonating. Nicole Thraum underwent a complete transformation as Mrs. Dubose, Scout’s cantankerous neighbor, thanks to a striking commitment to physicality. This, in combination with hilarious line delivery, made Thraum an immediate audience favorite.

Pine Crest’s set was composed of visually arresting silhouetted structures which added an eye-catching rustic aesthetic to stage and gave a gritty elegance to the production’s atmosphere. Also along the lines of technical achievement, Sarah Gale’s performance of the self-written song “We Can Be Free” was a powerful creative addition to the play, especially since inclusion of this contemporary sound into a period piece presented a risk that ultimately paid off.

It’s safe to say that many high school students can’t even make it from cover to cover of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, so any high school theatre program that makes it from overture to curtain call of this monumentally demanding play deserves rightful recognition. Pine Crest not only made it through, but did so with warmth and grace, thus giving satisfaction to fans of the novel – and to the rest, motivation to pick it up again and finally find out what the hype is all about.

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Reviews of Falling at American Heritage School on 11/8/2015


By Emily Lynch of Archbishop McCarthy High School

The saying “A mother’s love has no limits” took on a whole new meaning in American Heritage’s production of the Off Broadway play, “Falling.” A bright light of sympathy and understanding was cast upon a hushed and sensitive topic with a fresh originality in the school’s candid portrayal.

This contemporary piece focuses on a family’s struggle to cope with their severely autistic son, Josh, and his increasingly violent tendencies that are beyond both Josh and the family’s control. The play specifically focuses on the mother’s, Tami, unconditional yet struggling love for her son’s well being and safety in regards of long term care. While dealing with the pressures of a mother in law that’s zealous in means of religiosity (Sue), an ornery and petulant 16 year old daughter (Lisa), and a deteriorating passion and heightened disagreements in the marriage with her husband (Bill), Tami comes to realize her vulnerability and her limitless love cause her to need to be caught while “falling.”

The students brought a lifelike quality to their characters that made viewers feel like a welcomed fly on the wall observing the family’s everyday life. Delaney Lovejoy (Tami) gave an extremely naturalistic embodiment of a mother that showed her character’s raw exasperation and burden. Brian Haimes as Bill gave an exceptional performance after being substituted in the play with a day’s notice. His portrayal gave a realism and authenticity that evoked the impression that he really was a burdened and confused dad. Haimes especially gave an aura of great chemistry with Lovejoy as his wife that seemed the two had been married for 20 years rather than been cast mates for a day. Diego De La Espriella gave an impeccable performance that left the audience in tears on more then one occasion. He delivered his complex role with such rawness and authenticity that it could easily be believed that he was a genuine sufferer of Autism. Through Felicia Reich’s (Sue) believability she gave a realistic personification as a grandma that touts her strict Biblical views. Reich’s delivery of refreshing comic relief and her frightened view towards Josh showed the actress’s versatility. Tess Rowland as Lisa also gave a commendable performance through the delivery of her whines, complaints, and derisions towards Josh that created her as a detestable character.

Heritage’s crew did a commendable job on the set. It personified the seemingly humdrum life of most suburban families but emphasized certain elements, like the bright blue of the feather box, to show the family’s unique situation. Although the blocking of the play was mostly well done, there were a few points where action was set too far downstage so that certain viewers could not see. The lighting was also well done to convey the change in the direction and mood of the story.

The performance by the American Heritage students evoked emotions and showed struggles faced by thousands of families and unbeknownst to millions. The overwhelming rawness of the performance created a story and message that won’t soon be forgotten.

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By Jorge Amador of West Broward High School

For Tami and her family life was anything but ordinary. With a powerful and inspiring message bringing light to the spectrum disorder of Autism, American Heritage’s performance of Falling showcased the remarkable realism and the hardships of this “perfect” family.

Written by Deanna Jent, The Off-Broadway play, Falling, shows the trials that an ordinary family has to face with an autistic young man. The play takes place in the modern-day household of Josh and his family and their many troubling adventures they face together. This story is even more captivating on the fact that Deanna Jent’s own son experienced autism. Winner of the 2012 Kevin Kline award, Falling test all norms and highlights the remarkable inspiring disorder of autism.

Diego De la Espriella portrays the role of Josh in a realistic and inspiring way well beyond his years; bringing light and acceptance to the reality of autism. Espriella’s mannerisms and movements brought the story to life of this “falling” family. He showed the work of a daring actor, fearless enough to embody the life of the character. Also, portraying remarkable fearlessness was Brian Haimes, not only did he design the homey set, but stepped into the role of Bill less than 24 hours before the show. He showcased and delivered the role in a beautiful and heartening way under the circumstances. Delaney LoveJoy also embodied the role of a struggling mother in a heart-warming yet realistic way and carries the play in an uplifting manner.

Also, two impressive actresses, Tess Rowland and Felicia Reich, bring comic relief to the heart wrenching show with subtle yet captivating scenes.

American Heritage was brave enough to take on such a mature and challenging show as a high school. They brought justice and warm heartedness to this sophisticated play and delivered a wonderful message about autism.

Another impressive part of the production was the realistic and eye-catching set designed by Brian Haimes, whom also play Bill. The homey set brought the audience into the life of the struggling family. With remarkable attention to detail and amazing use of the limited space in a blackbox. Haimes produced a beautiful set that brought the story to life. It made the audience feel as if they were a part of the family.

Overall American Heritage displayed a unique and heartfelt performance of Falling that is one for the books.

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By Brooke Whitaker of Archbishop McCarthy High School

How far is one willing to go to keep their family together? American Heritage’s production of Falling is filled with raw, tender emotion in how a family deals with the often strenuous reality of living with an autistic child.

Based on the playwright Deanna Jent’s own experiences with her autistic son, Falling revolves around mother Tami, who spends most of her time caring for the special needs of her son, Josh, a child with autism who is prone to violent outbursts. With the help of her husband, Bill, and a series of games and code words, she seemingly has everything under control. Yet when his grandmother comes to visit, the family’s carefully constructed routine unravels, revealing the hidden dysfunction lying underneath.

Diego De La Espriella gave an incredibly realistic and nuanced performance as Josh. Each of his mannerisms, from his tendency to brush his fingers against certain things each time he passed them to his reluctance to look anyone in the eye, were true to the nature of his character. Everything he did felt natural. In one particular scene, when he was in a fit of rage, spit was flying from his mouth as he threw himself on the floor to escape the sound of a dog barking. Espriella wasn’t afraid to expose himself like this on stage, contributing the overall vulnerable nature of the show.

Delaney Lovejoy, as Tami, was both grounded and personal. She fully embodied the role of a frazzled mom who loves her son and yet is terrified of him. Her stress and her fear were readily apparent through her stellar line delivery and organic chemistry with each member of the cast, especially her husband, Bill, played by stand-in Brian Haimes. Considering he was not originally intended for the role, Haimes did an incredible job as a gentle father figure. Felicia Reich, as Sue, was also very down to earth as a bible-quoting grandmother who’s not quite sure how to best help her son’s aching family.

The set, designed by Brian Haimes, truly resembled an actual living room, with comfortable couches, family photos, and a glimpse of the front porch through the window. Props, done by Emily Grossutti, were remarkably detailed, further creating the illusion of a realistic house.

As Tami says to Grandma Sue, “We have to laugh about this stuff, otherwise we get stuck.” American Heritage’s show takes this to heart, using ample humor to give an intelligent, honest, and bittersweet portrayal of how autism can sometimes make families feel as if they’re falling, with nothing to grab on to.

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By Laralee Simpson of Archbishop McCarthy High School

American Heritage School blew away its audience with its stellar performance of the eye opening and thought provoking show, ‘Falling.’

Originally opening off Broadway in 2012 at the Minetta Lane Theater, ‘Falling’ follows the life of an autistic 18-year-old named Josh. When his grandmother decides to come for a visit, the family’s entire routine becomes completely disoriented, creating utter chaos. The play focuses on the struggles of the family as a whole, both physically and mentally.

In the theatrical world, the expression ‘the show must go on’ are words to live by. This was evident in ‘Falling’ for one monumental reason. The actor originally planning to portray the role of Bill, the father of Josh, abruptly had to drop out of the show the day of opening night. With quick thinking, Mrs. Christina Wright-Ballard, director of the show, put in senior Brian Haimes to fill the role. If not told of this news beforehand, one would’ve never guessed that Haimes had not been cast as this role and rehearsing just as long as everyone else. Haimes was also the set designer of the show, creating a stunning set that left audience members astonished.

To take on a role that calls for such a demanding physicality can be a difficult task for actors. For Diego De La Espriella, who portrayed the role of Josh, this certainly did not seem like the case. Every twitch and movement that he made with his body created such a powerful character that impacted the audience. With such fluid and consistent mannerisms and ticks, Espriella created the performance of a lifetime, leaving everyone watching speechless.

When in a show with a cast of five actors, connection between one another is crucial for the success of that show. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the connection between the actors in ‘Falling’ was so incredibly strong and intimate. This is seen through actress Delaney Lovejoy’s portrayal of Josh’s mother, Tami. In every scene she was in, she would connect with all of her fellow actors, whether it be when she’s comforting Josh or arguing with Bill. She stayed in the moment every second she was on stage, leading to an exceptional performance overall. Josh’s grandmother Sue (Felicia Reich) also brought such a beautiful and refreshing character to the performance, playing the role of the over-religious grandmother with such ease. The role of Lisa, portrayed by Tess Rowland, played such an impactful part of the production. Her anger and frustration for her brother was shown whenever she screamed at her mother or made a snide remark if her brother was even mentioned.

Through the troubles and the barriers, American Heritage School pushed through and created a magnificent piece of art, leaving audience members weeping at the beauty of it all. They certainly did not fall short in the portrayal of the powerful lesson shown through this beautiful play.

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By Megan Cahill of St. Thomas Aquinas High School

Falling, written by Deanna Jent, follows the life of Josh, a severely autistic young man, and what his family goes through in order to take care of him.  When his Grandma Sue, an outsider of Josh’s home life, comes to visit, the drama heightens as she witnesses the strength, dedication, and love it takes to give Josh the most prosperous life he can have.

American Heritage did a phenomenal job tackling such a difficult show.  The chemistry among the cast and intimate setting of the black box the show took place in created a true feeling of family.

One of the many great performances was from sudden understudy, Brian Haimes as the father, Bill.  He was able to do what professional actors are paid to do.  He came this afternoon with a stellar performance after having less than a day to learn his role.  It was highly impressive to see him become the character with such ease, as if he was cast as the part from the start.

Another notable performance was from Felicia Reich, who played Grandma Sue.  She easily brought to life the part of the loving, God-driven, grandmother.  Tess Rowland, who played Josh’s sister Lisa, had an intriguing performance as she gave a new perspective on being the average, teenage girl growing up with a disabled brother.

The mother Tami, played by Delaney Lovejoy, really showed the audience what a mother’s undying love for her children is.  Her understanding of being a mother of a disabled child was truly outstanding, and she presented herself with wisdom and maturity beyond her years.  The most moving performance was from Diego De La Espriella as the autistic son, Josh.  He had a stellar attention to detail and amazing comprehension of his character.  His research and dedication to the roll was evident in his triumphant performance.

The tech aspects were equally successful as the actors.  The set and lighting complimented each other and gave the feeling that the audience was intruding on a real home; and, the props added on to the authenticity of the play.

Falling is not an average play that most high schools would be able to tackle with such success, but American Heritage’s rendition was highly prosperous.  I felt every emotion along with the cast as if it were really happening.  I am extremely impressed and I’m sure any future audience members of Heritage’s Falling will be too.

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Reviews of The Drowsy Chaperone at St. Andrews School on, 11/6/2015


By Kayla Goldfarb of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Sit back, relax, grab a glass of “ice water” and get ready for some jazz hands! Wedding bells are ringing, and in Saint Andrew’s production of The Drowsy Chaperone, wedding bells will most certainly chime!

Surfacing on Broadway in 2006, The Drowsy Chaperone is a show within a show with larger than life characters that parodies, yet plays homage, to the golden era of musical comedies.  Originally a skit intended to be a gift for Bob Martin and his fiancee, The Drowsy Chaperone spawned into a full length musical which follows an antisocial Broadway fanatic simply referred to as Man In Chair. As he laments about the musical, an old record allows the audience to be transported into the wild and flashy production.

Cristian Cano (Man In Chair) skillfully depicted the role of the agoraphobic, over enthusiastic narrator of the bizarre tale.  Cano expertly handled the difficult task of remaining on stage throughout the entire performance, which earns him considerable commendation.  His energy remained consistent, hardly ever missing a beat, as he lamented about the musical or simply watched on with bursting adoration.  However, it was Petra Marie Edwards (The Drowsy Chaperone), portraying the musical’s namesake that truly stole the show.  She truly lit up the stage with her debaucherous atmosphere and sultry vocals.  Her riveting rendition of “As We Stumble Along” only further proved Edwards had a powerful presence on stage.

Naveen Sharma (Robert Martin) proved to be more than a mere caricature of a lovesick husband-to-be.  In numbers such as “Cold Feets” and “Accident Waiting to Happen”, Sharma showcased his ability to sing, tap, and even roller skate while upholding the cheesy yet debonair persona wonderfully. Hilarity ensued whenever Jorge Nunez (Aldolpho) appeared.  His dedication to the fine details of his character, such as the faux Latin accent and vaudeville manner of performing, was just as impressive as his superb comedic timing.  Another standout comedic performance was found in Bria Weisz (Kitty) as well as Jack Coyne (Feldzieg). Weisz and Coyne had fantastic chemistry which allowed them to create many entertaining moments when together.

Ben Snider and Alex Essig (The Gangsters) are also worth mentioning.  From their threatening quips to pastry puns, the two of them captured the essence of the typical 1920’s gangster.  The two led the ensemble in the grand number “Toledo Surprise.”  While the two of them maintained commitment to their character and energy in the show, other performers appeared to be disconnected from the production.  Despite some lackluster moments, the performer’s must be applauded for their endurance against some troubles such as mic and feedback issues.

All in all, Saint Andrew’s The Drowsy Chaperone was a recipe of comedy, romance, and extreme characters.  It “cannoli” be described as tasteful and that was perfectly “eclair”!

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By Maya Quinones of Deerfield Beach High School

Wedding bells were ringing this weekend in the auditorium of St. Andrews School as their production of the hit musical The Drowsy Chaperone took to the stage.

A fairly recent musical, The Drowsy Chaperone appeared on the Broadway stage in 2006 and won an impressive five Tony Awards. With music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, The Drowsy Chaperone has delighted musical theater lovers with its spoofs of classic 1920’s Broadway shows. Complete with non-threatening gangsters, a desperate Broadway impresario, an ethnic lover, a talented female ingénue, and many other stock characters, the show is famous for poking fun at productions of the past.

Cristian Cano plays Man in Chair, the Broadway obsessed recluse who plays his favorite musical soundtrack for the audience. As the soundtrack plays, the musical is brought to life right before his eyes. Cano narrates the performance, tweaking and commenting on his favorite musical throughout the entire production. With abundant stage time, Cano successfully steered the show in the right direction. Naveen Sharma plays the doe eyed oil tycoon Robert Martin. Sharma executed impressive dance, vocal, and even roller skating skills, showcased in his delightful numbers “Cold Feets” and “Accident Waiting to Happen.”

The cast committed to their stereotypical characters throughout the performance. Jorge Nunez played the Latin lover Aldolpho, complete with cape, cane, and ridiculous accent. With his hilarious expressions and physicality, Nunez embodied the seductive, yet dim-witted Aldolpho. Making certain the audience would not forget him, Nunez belted the name of his character in the narcissistic number “I Am Aldolpho,” cementing the memory of the lovable Latino in the minds of the audience. Jack Coyne played Feldzeig, the overwhelmed Broadway producer who can make a star out of anybody. Coyne not only had impressive comedic ability, but also outstanding tap dancing skills. Petra Marie Edwards as the title character Drowsy Chaperone was also extraordinary. Alcohol in hand, Edwards commanded the stage with her relaxed yet fierce attitude in her stand out number “As We Stumble Along.”

The set impressively allowed for an entire musical to take place in one man’s apartment. Clever construction techniques turned walls into beds and refrigerator doors into entryways. The set changes were swift and non-distracting, and the lighting ranged from a pleasant yellow to a deep blue. Sound and mic inconsistencies occasionally overwhelmed the performance. Despite this, the cast did not miss a beat, note, or line.

The Drowsy Chaperone celebrates musical theater, while simultaneously making fun of the various quirks and clichés the genre has rightfully accumulated over the years. St. Andrews production of The Drowsy Chaperon succeeded in bring this “musical within a comedy” to life, proving that with music, there are no sad endings.

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By Taylor Fish of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

With romance, show business, and baking gangsters, “one cannoli hope” they saw The Drowsy Chaperone at Saint Andrew’s Upper School this weekend, a show that left the audience kneading more.

Originally a series of racy jokes among friends at the bachelor party of Bob Martin and Janet Van De Graaf, The Drowsy Chaperone developed into a more erudite spoof of American musicals of the 1920’s that first graced the Broadway stage on May 1, 2006.The production ran for well over a year, receiving five Tony awards and many other renowned recognitions by the time of its closing. This show within a show entails a Broadway enthusiast, identified as Man in Chair, admiringly describing the plot of his favorite show which humorously takes on the namesake of the actual production.  As he listens to the soundtrack, Man in Chair watches his imagination solidify into an illusion of the show in his own living room, portraying the story of Janet Van De Graaf, a star who intends to give up her show business career for marriage, and Robert Martin, who causes Van De Graff to question the validity of his love. Throughout the melodramatic course of their relationship, Man in Chair provides quirky commentary, relating himself to the audience.

Saint Andrew’s production captured the humor of this exaggerated show exceedingly well. The chemistry between characters presented itself in the comedic timing, which contributed to the believability of the relationships and the sustained high level of energy among the principal roles. This comicality appeared in many of the smaller group numbers and, occasionally, was made even more impressive by the inclusion of tap dancing.

The authenticity of the plot was emphasized by the constant engagement of Cristian Cano as Man in Chair, who remained present on stage throughout the entire show. His significant involvement in the story supported the character development of the central roles, particularly with Robert Martin, played by Naveen Sharma. Sharma’s multitude of vocal, tapping, and roller skating talents were given dimensions by Man in Chair’s evident fondness of the character.

Much of the production’s success can be credited to Petra Marie Edwards for her captivating portrayal of The Drowsy Chaperone. Her suave, jazzy presence on stage contrasted with the consistently elevated energy of the rest of the cast and created a depth between characters that became almost tangible during her first entrance into the realm of the show. Throughout several offsetting complications with microphone feedback, Edwards impressively never lost her refined stage presence. Her affluence reached its pinnacle during her first encounter with Aldolpho, played by the hysterical Jorge Nunez. The two played off of each other’s dissimilar forms of comedy, constructing a priceless romance between an overly emotive narcissist and dry alcoholic.

Saint Andrew’s Upper School’s production of The Drowsy Chaperone encapsulated the overly histrionic elements necessary to achieve such a comedic show. The cast and crew undoubtedly contributed discernable effort in developing the eccentric and humorous relationships that furthered the storyline, always allowing ample opportunity for a good laugh. In vocal or physicality aspects where some characters struggled, their counterparts excelled, giving balance to each romance, keeping interests high, and reminding everyone that love is always lovely in the end.

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By Erin Cary of NSU University School

“Mix-ups, mayhem, and a gay wedding!” Wedding bells are ringing at Saint Andrew’s School in their energetic performance of The Drowsy Chaperone!

Alone in his living room, a Man In Chair puts the needle down on his favorite record. Soon, the eccentric bustle of the 1928 musical The Drowsy Chaperone fills the apartment. As the soundtrack plays, the musical comes to life on stage, telling the story of an unsure bride, an aloof groom, and their diverse, messy company. The musical, with a book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar and music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, has been praised since it debuted on Broadway in May of 2006, winning 5 Tony Awards and 7 Drama Desk Awards.

Cristian Cano, as Man In Chair, was consistently engaged throughout the whole performance. His character brought a comforting sentimentality to the show. Petra Marie Edwards, as the Drowsy Chaperone, brightened the stage with booming vocals and a strong presence. In her powerful solo, “As We Stumble Along,” she captured the glamorous charm of her character with her resilient vocals and beautiful physicality. With a swing of her glass, she captured the audience’s interest and adoration. Her passion made up for the disinterest expressed by other cast members.

Janet Van De Graaf and Robert Martin, played by Dominique Monserrat and Naveen Sharma respectively, brought an excellent chemistry to the show. Monserrat, portraying a confused, naïve girl, created a strong connection between herself and the audience. Sharma displayed incredible vocals and successful dance capabilities in songs like “Cold Feets” and “Accident Waiting to Happen.”  Jack Coyne, as the helpless producer Feldzieg, displayed incredible character work. He showed constant engagement, and his relationship with an aspiring star, Kitty, had audience members laughing from start to finish. Bria Weisz, playing Kitty, excellently executed her role as the spotlight-loving wannabe. Her consistent accent and her lovable presence elevated her performance and made her comedic moments all the better.

Portraying a humorous European stereotype, Aldolpho, Jorge Nuñez received more laughs than anyone else. His physicality and vocals in numbers such as, “I Am Aldolpho,” helped to cement his hilarity and appeal. Colleen Raymond and Brendan Assaf, as Mrs. Tottendale and Underling respectively, brought out an incredible chemistry on stage. Raymond’s outstanding vocals and Assaf’s witty one-liners brought their performance to a new level. Their rendition of “Love Is Always Lovely In the End,” filled with stellar vocal displays and believable motions, wowed the audience. Alex Watson (George) and Stephanie Grau (Trix) made strong impressions, both displaying quality vocals and engagement.

The ensemble aided greatly in the show. Ben Snider and Alex Essig, as the Gangster duo, pulled laughter out of every onlooker, with their well-executed puns and excellent comedic timing. While some cast members often seemed messy in their execution, the energy of others maintained the glow of the performance.

The tech elements of the show added to the show’s appeal. Although the orchestra was sometimes overpowering, many actors made up for it in their crisp pronunciation and appropriate volume.

Through a riveting performance, the students at Saint Andrew’s School transported their audience into the beautiful world of The Drowsy Chaperone.

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By Amanda Jimenez of The Sagemont School

A seductive Latino casanova, gangsters dressed as bakers in disguise, a perpetually confused hostess, an anxious producer, a wannabe actress, and a wedding- What more could anyone hope for in a musical? Saint Andrew’s School’s production of The Drowsy Chaperone was a charmingly hilarious extravaganza that left audience members laughing and tapping their feet along to the music throughout the entire show.

The Drowsy Chaperone, music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, is a classic show-within-a-show musical. A man in a chair plays a record of his favorite Broadway musical, the fictional 1928 comedy, The Drowsy Chaperone, and narrates as the musical recording comes to life on stage. It is the wedding day of the famed actress Janet Van De Graaf and her fiancé Robert Martin, an oil tycoon. Janet is ready to leave her successful Broadway career behind and settle down, much to the horror of her producer, Feldzieg, who is pressured to stop the wedding in order to save his show and please a threatening investor. Hilarity ensues as the effort to sabotage the wedding does not go quite as planned.

Saint Andrew’s School’s production did not disappoint. There was never a dull moment on stage, as the actors constantly commanded attention. Cristian Cano (Man in Chair) charmed as he guided the audience into the world of The Drowsy Chaperone. Cristian offered a refreshing comedic relief from the over the top spectacle unfolding on stage. Especially memorable were Jorge Nuñez (Aldolpho) and Jack Coyne (Feldzieg) whom dazzled with their exceptional characterization and comedic timing. Petra Marie Edwards (The Drowsy Chaperone), Bria Weisz (Kitty), and Naveen Sharma (Robert Martin) also stood out for their dedication to character choices and unwavering charisma. Some actors were not committed to their roles and were not as engaged in what was going on around them. At times, some of the actors’ voices wavered as they sang and fell a bit off key. A few actors had a hard time keeping up with the choreography and fell behind pace as they danced. There were issues with the microphones on many occasions, resulting in actor’s microphones turning off, static, and loud noises reverberating through the theatre. All of the actors handled these disruptions with poise and soldiered through.

Overall, Saint Andrew’s School’s production of The Drowsy Chaperone was a fun and enjoyable experience made complete with a lively cast, a fantastic live orchestra, hilarious jokes, and dazzling musical numbers. It’s something for when you’re feeling blue, ya know?
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Review of Pride and Prejudice at North Broward Preparatory School on Friday, 10/16/2015.


By Kelly Blauschild of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

PridealgJane Austen once wrote, “Where there is a real superiority of mind, pride will be always under good regulation.” Perhaps she wasn’t speaking of North Broward Preparatory School, but she may well have been; their production of Pride and Prejudice proved nothing short of such praise.

Pride and Prejudice, set in rural England in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, tells the heartwarming tale of two acquaintances who overcome social bias to fall in love. This performance was that of Helen Jerome’s adaptation for modern theatre, circa 1935. It was based on the Jane Austen novel of the same title, which rose to high acclaim after being published in 1813. Austen’s story emphasizes timeless themes that are still prevalent today, such as love, marriage, family, and class. These themes are what allow Austen’s literature to retain notoriety regardless of age.

Although the show reaches far beyond the maturity of most teenagers, the actors approached it with honor. The commendable rapport within the cast and crew verified the respect that the members had for one another.

Elizabeth Bennet (Tommi Rose) is the protagonist of Pride and Prejudice– a sweetheart with an intelligent edge. Rose managed to mirror the infamous wit of Elizabeth with ease. One notable aspect of her performance was her consistent British accent. While some characters struggled to speak with the poise often associated with old English, Rose’s speech was genuine and unfaltering. Her “good girl” demeanor contrasted strikingly with her arrogant counterpart, Mr. Darcy (Neil Goodman). Having been nominated for multiple Cappies in the past, Goodman is no stranger to the theatre. He undoubtedly held his reign of the high school drama hierarchy with this successful portrayal of the egocentric Darcy. Goodman showed a strong control and understanding of his character through his speech and physicality. He approached each scene with focus, exerting fierce diction and projection. His cold gestures and harsh posture accurately reflected his cruel character. Also evident was his energy, which kept the audience captivated even in moments of silence. The chemistry between Rose and Goodman was apparent, and both actors reached their peak in the confrontational scene in which Darcy proposes to Elizabeth. Goodman’s dynamic skill heightened at this point; his pained confession of affection showed that though his love for Elizabeth had helped him evolve, it was not yet strong enough to overcome his internalized narcissism.

Lydia Bennet (Jennifer Carter) caught the audience’s attention gracefully, and without overshadowing “larger” characters. Carter portrayed her age as the youngest sister with absolute clarity. Her development into Mrs. Wickham hinted at her naiveté and exemplified his predatory nature. Carter’s characterization allowed her presence to be felt long after she had physically left the stage. Lydia and Elizabeth, along with Jane Bennet (Samantha Hodes), illustrated the beautiful and complicated chemistry involved in sisterhood. Though the comedy of Mr. Collins (Samuel Kelly-Cohen) was not particularly integral to the plot, the audience received his humor well and certainly appreciated his addition to the show.

Despite some lingering set changes, the play ran smoothly. There were minor microphone errors at times, but the actor’s perseverance through the technical difficulties minimized any distraction they might have caused.

North Broward Preparatory School’s production of Pride and Prejudice demonstrated intellect and finesse, offering a fine tribute to Austen’s classic tale.

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By Maya Quinones of Deerfield Beach High School

When your first priority in life is to be married by thirty, arrogant pessimists, awkward cousins, and kindhearted abandoners may just qualify as fantastic matrimonial candidates. North Broward Preparatory School’s lively production of Pride and Prejudice had all the bachelorettes of 1813 England weighing their options.

Adapted to the Broadway stage by Helen Jerome in 1936, Jane Austen’s classic novel was brought to life with this faithful and intelligent adaption. Although Jerome’s Pride and Prejudice has not made its mark on the modern Great White Way, high school theaters continue to undertake the spirited, yet sentimental comedy. Pride and Prejudice demonstrates the class struggles and societal pressures of early 19th century England, while also telling one of the most cherished love stories of all time.

Neil Goodman plays the attractive but extremely judgmental Mr. Darcy, mindful of his social status. Goodman executed an impressive range of emotion as Mr. Darcy transformed into an affectionate and caring gentleman. With impeccable inflection and dominating stage presence, Goodman captured the role of Mr. Darcy and never let go. Tommi Rose plays the witty and independent Elizabeth Bennet, object of Mr. Darcy’s desires. Rose never failed to have chemistry with her fellow actors. From hilariously awkward marriage proposals to sweet interactions with her older sister, it was clear that Rose had completely embodied her character.

Sharon Hammer brought a whirlwind of energy to the performance as the frivolous and emotional Mrs. Bennet. With an unwavering British accent and a perfectly high pitched wail, Hammer was devoted to her character. When you’re on the hunt for love why not consider your own cousin? Samuel Kelly-Cohen plays the uncoordinated Mr. Collins, cousin of the three Bennet sisters. Cohen had impressive comedic timing and was committed to the awkward stature and personality of his unique character. Samantha Hodes plays Jane, the beautiful but humble eldest Bennet sister. Hodes brought a touching quality to Jane as she expressed her sorrows to her aunt and excitement to her younger sister with poignant intimacy. The melodious string quintet underscored the actors throughout the performance, heightening the romantic atmosphere.

The set invited us into 19th century British ballrooms and drawing rooms, adorned with paintings and large windows. Although some elevated set pieces intended to be used in later acts were visible to the audience, this did not take away the impressive quality and detailed construction of the piece when they ultimately descended onto the stage. The microphones were consistent and coherent with very little volume fluctuation or error. While some actors had difficulty expressing the seniority of their characters, the makeup application successfully differentiated the various ages. With period dance and costumes, the performance completely transported the audience 202 years into the past.

Pride and Prejudice is more than just the assigned reading stuffed at the bottom of a high schooler’s backpack. The story is a relevant depiction of a women who is not willing to forfeit her integrity to conform to her society. North Broward Preparatory School should feel nothing but pride for their splendid production.

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By Taylor Fish of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

While girls throughout England fantasize their futures with men they have yet to meet, Elizabeth Bennet could not be the least bit concerned in North Broward Preparatory School’s production of Pride and Prejudice.

Originally a beloved Jane Austen novel, Pride and Prejudice was published in 1813 and made its way to the Broadway stage on November 6, 1935 as a stage adaptation written by Helen Jerome. The story embarks in 19th century England with Elizabeth, the highly sarcastic and exceedingly headstrong daughter of the Bennet family, who demonstrates indifference towards each suitor that arrives at the Bennet residence in search of a bride among the family’s three daughters. When Elizabeth encounters a wealthy suitor with an unsociable disposition named Mr. Darcy, she develops an aversion to his presence that vindicates the concepts of love, social division, and family.

North Broward Preparatory School’s production splendidly displayed these themes through their apparent captivation of the story. Understanding of this historical piece was aided by the intent focus of each member of the cast as they casually chatted at the ball, nonchalantly dusted the Bennets’ furniture, or outwardly disputed with their counterparts. Every performer presented themselves as actively engaged throughout each scene they appeared in, and this brought further enthrallment with the storyline.

Great commendation is deserved by Tommi Rose and Neil Goodman, who portrayed Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, respectively. The chemistry between these two actors overflowed to the point where it seemed almost tangible. Both of these leading performers brought an entirely different aura to the plot with each appearance they made, providing a cutting seriousness to add to the charming humor of the rest of the characters. The lengthy pauses of contemplation that both Rose and Goodman incorporated into their deliveries offered a weight to the words of the script that the quicker spoutings of lines lacked. This significant change in pacing gave the production a variety that complimented the audience’s understanding.

Much of the lighthearted humor of the show can be credited to Samuel Kelly-Cohen for his portrayal of Mr. Collins. His eccentric interpretation as a twitchy man who is unaware of personal boundaries offered a hysterical physicality that intensified the fluctuations between comedy and drama in the show. Though Kelly-Cohen quite literally went head-over-heels for his commitment to portraying the bizarre character, several performers in the show lacked serious conviction in the delivery of their lines, distracting from the entrancement they captivated the audience with previously.

While the stage appeared so beautifully lavished with intricate set pieces and appropriate properties for this era of England, complications arose with the length of the transitions between scenes. Many of the blackouts lasted an uneasy amount of time as the audience watched the shadows of the crew members place tables, chairs, tea sets, and other various constructions into their destinations. The amount of tasks the crew needed to accomplish during each transition seemed extensive, and this created a problematic aspect for the show.

The sophistication of Pride and Prejudice is far greater than that of the typical high school play, and the cast and crew of this production merits admirable recognition for accomplishing such a grand task. With generally authentic accents and clear diction, the performers of this show successfully made a complexly witty English script clear in its plot and intentions to the audience. North Broward Preparatory should definitely feel the utmost pride.

***     ***     ***

By Erin Cary of NSU University School

Status, wealth, love, and family – concepts that have riddled intelligent minds for centuries. In an elegant and sentimental performance, the students at North Broward Preparatory School tackled these notions, bringing to life the classic story of Pride and Prejudice.

In the early 1800s English countryside, a family of young, eligible daughters each fight for a marriage that will gain them a high position in society. The only girl not inclined to wed is the regal and educated Elizabeth Bennet. Originally an 1813 novel by Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice grapples with the significance of love and status. Adapted into a theatrical format by Helen Jerome, the play premiered on Broadway in 1935.

The dedication of the lead actors enamored the audience from start to finish. Tommi Rose spectacularly bore the acumen and independence of Elizabeth Bennet, while still conveying Elizabeth’s compassion and kindness. Even in silent moments, her face captured the resilience and curiosity of her character, seizing the audience’s interest. Displaying much of the same constant engagement, Neil Goodman crafted a strong and compelling character. He expressed a clear arch in Mr. Darcy, developing noticeably in passion and boldness as the show progressed. The two leads worked together to create an authentic connection between their characters, palpable in almost every scene between them.

Mr. and Mrs. Bennet (Cameron Glass and Sharon Hammer respectively) also brought a refreshing air to the performance. Glass broadcasted a skillfully-crafted fatherly identity with a touching care for his daughters, evident in his movements and vocal tones. Samantha Hodes, as Jane Bennet, wonderfully expressed the greater subtleties of a shy and quiet character. With her hesitant disposition, she brought a unique likeability to a well-deserving role. Samuel Kelly-Cohen produced some comic relief as the snooty Mr. Collins. His unusual movements and characteristics provoked laughter from the audience, and he consistently maintained his humorous persona.

Jennifer Carter as the youngest Bennet daughter, Lydia, successfully depicted both her age and her development throughout the show. When Lydia was wed, the audience clearly saw the soar in confidence through Carter’s new boldness of voice and exaggerated gestures. Carmen Horn excellently portrayed the villainous Miss Bingley. Her embellished motions and impactful vocal intonations made her the woman that everyone loves to hate. Caroline Skuta and Sam Fishman, as Lady Catherine De Bourgh and Colonel Guy Fitzwilliam respectively, composed strong and believable roles, using subtle changes in character disposition to bring different elements to their scenes. The maids, as well, did a spectacular job in bringing humor and new rudiments to many scenes. While some lines were garbled or weakened because of poor pacing, the cast members spoke constantly with convincing English accents. The sincerity of many of these characters also helped to make up for any lack of conviction in others’ lines.

The show’s program elegantly displayed the hard work of the publicity team, beautifully encapsulating the essence of the show. While some characters’ makeup appeared over-exaggerated, the 1800s hairstyles served excellently to maintain the time period. The orchestra, without many songs, conquered their pieces successfully.

By the end of the show, the audience had enjoyed three acts of delight, fear, and humor. Thanks to a wonderful cast and crew, the viewers gained a new understanding of the sins of pride and prejudice.

Review of the April 4, 2015 performance of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying at Suncoast Community High School

By Eden Skopp of Stoneman Douglas High School

How does J. Pierrepont Finch, a man not with the dust on the bottom of the shoes of the businessmen who bustle around inside the building that he washes, manage to become chairman of the company’s board in a matter of days? He follows the instructions of a very handy guidebook, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” Finch’s rapid rise to corporate heights is documented in a musical, performed by Suncoast Community High School.

With the the 1952 novel, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” by Shepherd Mead in mind, Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, Willie Gilbert, and musician and lyricist  Frank Loesser created the Tony winning musical about a lowly window washer who scrambles up the corporate ladder with his self help book on “how to succeed” to guide him. The show opened in 1961 and ran for over a thousand subsequent performances and has since inspired a movie and two recent revivals.

Kyle Cortes’ (J. Pierrepont Finch) voice fit the musical’s style well and Justin Rubenstein (Bud Frump) demonstrated remarkable comedic control over his performance. His portrayal of the president’s good-for-nothing-nephew showed complete understanding of Bud’s motivations. This was portrayed through clear characterization and vocal skill. However, out of the principal characters, Samantha Bashwiner (Smitty) gave the most believable performance, and showed the most character development.

Tegan Mills (Hedy Larue) portrayed her character with consistent energy. Mackenley Ria (Twimble) featured the history of the man who had been head of the mail room for so long in just one scene. He appeared to be highly involved in his performance although the cast as a whole lacked energy.

Despite problems with the spot light, the lighting design was extremely complex and well thought out and enhanced the mood of the show. There seemed to be an overarching technical vision that was inspired by the windows of an office building.

“How to Succeed in Business,” loved by all generations since its inception, demonstrates the timeless message of American ambition to make it to the top.

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By Juliette Romeus of Stoneman Douglas High School

Who knew the way to succeed in a business was just by reading a handy book? Suncoast Community High School’s production of How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying took everyone along on an exhilarating ride as a plain window washer slyly climbs up the corporate ladder.

Based on Shepherd Mead’s 1952 book by the same name, a Broadway musical came to life in October 1961. With a Book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, and Willie Gilbert, and Music and Lyrics by Frank Loesser, the production won seven Tony Award and also had the honor of winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The immense success led to a film being produced in 1967 and two Broadway revivals. The story follows window washer J. Pierrepont Finch, who comes across a manual that teaches him how to easily climb up in a big- time business.  As Finch maneuvers to get to the highest position he can, he leaves a trail of admirers and jealous enemies in his wake.

Leading the show as J. Pierrepont Finch, Kyle Cortes smoothly charmed everyone with his strong vocals. Blending nicely with the style of music, Cortes sung difficult notes with ease. Supporting Cortes were Samantha Bashwiner and Justin Rubenstein, respectively portraying the roles of Smitty and Bud Frump. Bashwiner had an excellent stage presence; her bright character captivating the scenes she was in. Rubenstein’s sharp comedic timing and hilarious voice inflections strongly stood out, especially in his character’s “seizures” and temper tantrums.

Tegan Mills (Hedy Larue), with her consistent character accent and quirks also positively stood out , alongside Mackenley Ria (Twimble) with his sharp and confident dance movements.

The ensemble was an important factor in this show, and their steady high energy brought life to the scenes they all participated with. The harmonies in songs such as “Cinderella Darling” and “I Believe in You” were clear and powerful. Although they sometimes lost their synchronization with the live student orchestra, they quickly recovered and continued without a hitch.

Technically, the costumes were colorful and time period appropriate. Although some characters were lacking aging makeup, the younger characters’ makeup were all clear and nice.

Suncoast Community High School’s production of How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying reminds us all that hard work and perseverance can get you anywhere you want in life- nothing is impossible!

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By Maya Quinones of Deerfield Beach High School

Suits, secretaries, and secrets.  Suncoast Community High School’s production of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” showed audiences how to live the company way.

Shepherd Mead’s satirical book “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” had businessmen laughing and Broadway producers brainstorming. The musical adaptation of Mead’s mock self-help manual opened on Broadway in 1961. With music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, the musical was a massive success, winning seven Tony awards. With multiple revivals that starred big names like Daniel Radcliffe, Darrin Criss, and Matthew Broderick, the musical has stayed relevant throughout the decades.

In Suncoast’s production, Kyle Cortes played the deceptively charming J. Pierrepont Finch, whose dream is to climb the corporate ladder all the way to the top. Cortes flashed a winning smile and sang a catchy tune as he transformed from a lowly window washer to chairman of the board. From the moment he descended by swing onto the stage at the top of act one, all the way to curtain call, he executed impressive vocal ability. Rhiannon Karp played Rosemary Pilkington, the love-struck fiancé of Finch. Karp was expressive and vocally consistent as she declared her devotion to Finch throughout the performance.

Just about every musical written in the 1930s to the 1960s has a female character with a high-pitched, squeaky voice and a stylish wardrobe. This show being no exception, Tegan Mills strutted the stage as bombshell would-be secretary Hedy Larue. Loud, ditsy, and shameless, Mills was completely devoted to her beloved stereotype. Commanding the stage, Mills provided hilarious moments that contributed to the whirling plot twists.  Bud Frump is the nephew of the president of the company and a true mama’s boy. His whiny and egocentric persona was portrayed without flaw by Justin Rubenstein in various scene stealing moments. Although microphones faltered at times, the actors remained coherent throughout the performance. There were some moments when set or costume changes ran over time. This was expertly dealt with by the student orchestra, who continued to play the music without any hesitation.

The set provided a convincing and aesthetically pleasing office environment, complete with elevators and large company logos adorning the walls. The set seamlessly transformed to that of a rooftop, washroom, and meeting room. The ensemble was energetic and cohesive, performing polished dance moves in the songs “Brotherhood of Man” and “Coffee Break.”

It was clear that Suncoast High School’s “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” did in fact try to make this production one to remember. With coffee cups in hand and typewriters at fingertips, they ultimately succeeded.

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By Kelsey Powers of Boca Raton Community High School

From the first cup of morning coffee until the elevator ride downstairs at the end of the day, having an office job can be incredibly predictable. But in Suncoast Community High School’s production of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”, one young employee skyrockets his way up the corporate ladder and nothing happens according to plan.

“How to Succeed…”, written by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, and Willie Gilbert with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, ran for three and a half years on Broadway and won seven 1962 Tony awards. The plot is centered on J. Pierrepont Finch, a window-washer who follows instructions from a book to rise from the mailroom to the boardroom of the World Wide Wicket Company.

Suncoast’s production of “How to Succeed…” was defined by the vocal abilities of its entire cast and the overall smooth technical aspects, such as timely scene changes and thematic lighting, that kept the audience immersed in the story throughout the performance.

Kyle Cortes, as J. Pierrepont Finch, provided a solid backbone for the production, engrossing the audience in his wit, charm, and aspirations. Rhiannon Karp, as Finch’s romantic interest and sometimes-secretary Rosemary Pilkington, emulated the characteristic vocal qualities of the 1960s, adding to the period integrity of the production as a whole.

The rest of the cast, though lacking energy at times, delivered admirable performances. Most notable among them were Tegan Mills (Hedy Larue), who hit each note and joke effortlessly, and Mackenley Ria (Twimble), who was clearly an experienced dancer and was never seen without an energetic expression on his face.

Technically, “How to Succeed…” was polished with overall quick transitions owing to the skill of the fly operators and stage crew. Apart from occasional issues with microphone levels, the sound balance was also impressive for a show using a live orchestra. Lighting effects helped to create the mood for different scenes, but sometimes left actors shadowed or completely in the dark during a song.

Witty, toe-tapping, and truly enjoyable, Suncoast Community High School’s production of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” was a challenge well met by the cast and crew. No coffee was needed to perk the audience up after they left the theater, perhaps even looking forward to the workweek.

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By Hillary Corniel of West Boca High School

With the help of a book, one man goes from washing windows to becoming chairman of the board, Suncoast High School tells us the true story of how this man climbs the ladder of success in just a few weeks!

Based on the original book written by Shepherd Mead, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” became a bestseller in the 1950’s. Then a few years later, playwrights Willie Gilbert,  Jack Weinstock created a dramatic interpretation and got the attention of agent Abe Burrows who, with the help of Frank Loesser, pieced the show all together!

Suncoast’s production was wonderful, the ensemble was integral to this show. The show ran smoothly and every cast member was in character and never seemed detached. Each new face that appeared brought a refreshing presence to the stage. The vocals in this show were absolutely amazing, with each harmony came a rush of chills.

J. Pierrepont Finchb(Kyle Cortes) a young, ambitious man tries to rise from his window washing position all the way to the top at the World Wide Wicket Company with some help from the book How to Succeed. When first starting at the company, Finch meets the lovely woman, Rosemary Pilkington (Rhiannon Karp), a secretary, who at the sight of Finch instantly falls in love.  Cortes and Karp both had great, organic energy with each other and by the end their relationship really grew.

J.B. Biggley (Shemar Crawford) is the president of the World Wide Wicket Company and at first was very displeased with Mr. Finch, but soon grew to love him since they “shared” so many common interests. Seeing Mr. Finch becoming so friendly with everyone and already moving up the business ladder only being there for such a short period of time,  Bud Frump(Justin Rubenstein) the nephew of Mr. Biggley, tries to stop Mr. Finch on his path to success. Crawford and Rubenstein were hilarious, they had such big characters but never over did it.

The set was simple, yet provided the many aspects that a big company building might have. With lots of doors and an elevator, they really used with set to their advantage. The costumes and make-up were great for the time period and helped create the atmosphere of an office building in the 1960s style.

Suncoast’s production of  “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” was a heartwarming and humorous show.

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Reviews of As Bees in Honey Drown performed at Western High on Thursday, 3/19/2015


By Thomas Neira of Stoneman Douglas High School

“You are not the person you were born? Who wonderful is?”  The mantra of those who aspire to achieve fame and glory leads to such an intricate knot of schemes and lies that the only thing certain is that Western High School’s performance of “As Bees in Honey Drown” is a must-see!

The 1997 satirical comedy written by American playwright Douglas Carter Beane follows a “hot young” writer who gets scammed by a fabulous con artist. Turns out, he wasn’t the first to fall into her trap and thus begins a fight of pure conviction and wit that determines who gets the last laugh.  A critical hit in New York’s West Village, the play received an Outer Critics Circle Award for the script and J. Smith-Cameron received an Obie Award for playing Alexa Vere de Vere.

Jillian Ramunno as the ambitious and glamorous Alexa Vere de Vere perfectly portrayed the insatiable attitude of the wannabe socialite.  Ramunno’s over-the-top mannerisms, yet overall collected composure, caused the line between reality and imagination to blur, and it was impossible to tell when the great con artist was telling the truth.  Leading alongside her was Bruno Enciso, who as Evan Wyler brought an entirely different aspect to the play.  Rather than fabricate lies, the down-to-earth writer sought to uncover truth and Enciso remarkably brought him to life.  Enciso’s commitment to the role was apparent and his awareness of the other characters on stage made for a truly believable performance.

Grant Brecheisen playing Alexa Vere de Vere’s not-so-dead friend Mike Stabinsky made the most out of the stage time he had and provided a genuine performance.  With his charisma and true understanding of the role, he embodied the down-to-earth artist.  Trent Hampel as Morris Kaden gave an equally enjoyable performance commanding attention and respect as the powerful executive, but showing a comedic side.  Dominating the comedic aspect of the show were John Ortega, Elan Lewis, and Ami Idowy as Ronald, Ginny Cameron, and the Secretary, respectfully. Ortega caused an uproar with his distinguishable antics and overall hilarious interpretation of a Saks 5th Avenue tailor. Lewis’ relatable timidity and lively acting made for an entertaining performance, and Idowy’s stubborn conviction made her character amusing.

The appropriate and magnificent set transported the audience into the world of creativity and art.  The Pop Art and incorporation of a screen enhanced the performance to make it more enjoyable.  Although there was a clear difficulty hearing some of the characters wearing microphones, the convoluted plot was still understood.

Overall, Western High School’s rendition of “As Bees in Honey Drown” was a success. With hard-work and dedication from the cast, the struggle to find fame and create a new identity was well made.

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By Matthew Gavan of Pope John Paul II High School

The chance of achieving wealth and fame can disrupt the focus one places on their desires and their craft. Western High School’s production of “As Bees In Honey Drown” walks this blurred line between Art and Life.

Written by Douglas Carter Beane, “As Bees In Honey Drown” opened in June, 1997 in New York City. The show moved to the Lucille Lortel Theater where it won an Outer Critics Circle Award for playwriting and an Obie Award for Distinguished Performance by an Actress. The story places you in the shoes of Even Wyler, an up and coming New York Writer, who,after being featured in a magazine,is approached by Alexa Vere de Vere, a con artist claiming to be a record producer. After being conned, Evan attempts to exact revenge as sweet as honey.

Bruno Enciso, playing by Evan Wyler, did a great job in handling the dynamic aspects of his character. Bruno expressed a variety of emotions and naturally transitioned from the vulnerable and exploited Evan to the driven Evan who pursues his revenge relentlessly. Along with emotional expressions, Bruno’s physicality was fitting for his character.

Alexa Vere de Vere, played by Jillian Ramunno, is an over the top character and Jillian provided exactly that. While projection was lacking and certain actions seemed unnecessary, Jillian’s attention the details of her character overshadowed these flaws.  With her larger than life behavior and dramatic body language, Killian successfully portrayed the theatric con who has grown accustomed to getting her way.

Among the many genuine characters, Moris Kaden, played by Trent Hampel, was the most memorable. From physicality to the style of speaking, Trent created a very accurate portrayal of the rigid businessman who has learned from past mistakes.  Grant Brecheisen also did very well as the painter Mike Stabinski. Although there were technical issues concerning Grant’s projection, he managed to suffer through the issue and showed an abundance of energy when onstage.

The set was designed in a pop art style and had a vast array of vibrant colors. An image at the back of stage informed the audience which scene was to begin and placed a piece of art that reflected the events of the scene. Noticeable issues with microphones were kept to a minimum and smooth rhythmic songs were used to enhance the atmosphere during scene changes. What the stage crew, run by Isabella Cring, lacked in speed they made up for in quietness and preciseness. The transitions occurred smoothly and the music being played prevented the length of the changes from being distracting.

Every individual character in the cast brought unique styles and energy to their characters resulting in a diverse show. With these unique characters and the chaos that ensues from the differing personalities, Western High School’s production of As Bees In Honey Drown provided the balanced combination of both comedic and dramatic moments of the show that taught the audience the importance of both Life and Art.

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By Samantha Grubner of Suncoast Community High School

A juxtaposition of life and art, “As Bees in Honey Drown” challenges what is artificial compared to what is carefully derived. Western High School’s production of “As Bees in Honey Drown” managed to present both life and art in a modern setting that captivated audiences and showcased the cast’s deep appreciation for modern theatre.

With book by Douglas Carter Beane, the satirical comedy was first shown in New York City in June, 1997. After a month of successful performances, the production moved to the Lucille Lortel Theatre in the West Village, where it continued to enthrall audiences for a year. Beane won an Outer Critics Circle Award for his writing, and J. Smith-Cameron won an Obie Award for playing Alexa.

“As Bees in Honey Drown” follows Evan Wyler, an up and coming novelist, as he is pulled into the ploys of the incomparable Alexa Vere de Vere, a self made con-artist. As Act One concludes, Evan has given his all to Alexa only to realize that her greed for fame and adventure outweighed any love that she confessed for him. Act Two expresses Evan’s passion for revenge for Alexa.

Jillian Ramunno (Alexa Vere de Vere) delivered a compelling performance as she transformed into a character who is driven entirely by the selfish desire to live the good life. Ramunno consistently portrayed her character, effectively transitioning her character in scenes with flashbacks. Ami Idowu (Secretary) also delivered an applaudable performance, many times bringing a comedic break to scenes that were in need of a chuckle or two.

Bruno Enciso (Evan Wyler) was a clear standout on stage as he delivered a performance that showed both a huge depth of knowledge of his character as well as a firm grasp of the ideals of performance. Grant Brecheisen (Mike Stabinsky) was also a key component of the production’s success as he provided comic relief and delivered a performance that convinced the audience of his character’s wisdom.

The pop art set constantly reminded audience members that this piece is one of sheer artistic expression while at the same time providing a backdrop that was interesting and innovative. A few technical errors did occur, such as the mics being left on backstage, but the actors on stage rose above this setback and projected clearly, keeping audience members attention on them at all times.

Western High Schools production of “As Bees in Honey Drown” left a sweet impression on audience members as the cast delivered a performance that is not soon to be forgotten.

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By Aaron Bourque of South Plantation High School

There’s a reason why con artists are called what they are – between careful manipulation, plotted deception, and classic, calculating charm, the practice is nothing short of an art. Western High School illustrates such artistry in its production of “As Bees in Honey Drown.”

Written by Douglas Carter Beane, “As Bees in Honey Drown” centers on scammer Alexa Vere de Vere as she preys on potentially successful people in New York City. Evan Wyler, her current victim, is an up-and-coming writer who has been promised fame and fortune for fulfilling Alexa’s desires of writing a screenplay. It is when Alexa bankrupts him that the art behind scamming is revealed, as well as Evan’s plot for revenge.

Alexa Vere de Vere and Evan Wyler, portrayed by Jillian Ramunno and Bruno Enciso, respectively, demonstrated a unique chemistry onstage that reflected Alexa’s feigned adoration and initial intentions for malice. Ramunno, contrasting between frantic intonation and suave disposition, successfully channeled the sociopathic elements of a raging con artist. Enciso, on the other hand, juxtaposed her performance with convincing naivety and infatuation for Ramunno that made his reversal of fortune all the more heartfelt and palpable. That being said, both Enciso and Ramunno’s characterizations allowed Evan’s act of revenge to be more believable and to ultimately create a sense of “victory” at the end of the play.

Trent Hampel as Morris Kaden and Grant Brecheisen as Mike Stabinsky, past victims of Alexa Vere de Vere, presented interesting dynamics with Enciso. Hampel, between a boastful demeanor and a prideful physicality, easily portrayed the mannerisms of a high powered executive, complete with loud, obnoxious invectives. Brecheisen, on the other hand, masterfully balanced the comedy and gravity of being Alexa’s supposedly “dead husband” with well-timed sarcastic remarks and gestures towards Enciso. Both actors, however, successfully presented distinct, yet memorable, relationships with Alexa Vere de Vere, as told through flashbacks.

Between a nude violinist, a Swedish model, a flamboyant fashionista, and a Mohawk-sporting rocker, the show offers rather zany characters that were portrayed commendably. Elan Lewis as the nude violinist displayed a comical shyness and insecure anxiety that made for a rather interesting photo-shoot. John Ortega as Ronald the fashionista, on the other hand, made for a high-energy comedic relief dominated by ecstatic gestures and entertaining stage business. Although it appeared that some actors had trouble starting dialogue within a large group, it did not greatly hinder the fluidity of the scene.

Although not student designed, the colorful set displayed pictures of iconic New York City landmarks and symbols and truly reflected the “pop art” movement that the show was based on. Although some scene transitions were rather long in length, the music played during them was fitting to the moment of the scene, which helped connect the plotline of the play between scenes.

Although fame and fortune is a proverbial definition of success, Western High School reveals its darker and psychologically taxing consequences in its production of “As Bees in Honey Drown.”

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By Savannah Zona of Boca Raton Community High School

Convivial comedic timing, cocksure con artists, and colorful construction were all a part of Western High School’s production of “As Bees in Honey Drown”.  The students brought this satirical play by Douglas Carter Beane to life in a creative and endearing way.

“As Bees in Honey Drown” opened in New York in 1997 and then moved to an off-Broadway playhouse where it graced the stage for an entire year. The show won several awards such as the Outer Critics Circle Award for writing and for lead actress. The story follows a con artist with the alias of Alexa Vere de Vere, who takes advantage of up and coming artists. Her latest victim is a newly published author, Evan Wyler. Alexa impresses Evan with a few lavish purchases and soon after, he begins charging his credit card under the impression that he will be reimbursed, but never is. Ultimately becoming penniless and played, revenge bubbles within Evan and with the help of Alexa’s other victims, he seeks his revenge.

The production as a whole was full of comedy and energy from the whole cast. Even when characters were in the background, they remained cognizant of the scene and continued to react accordingly. However, some distractions occurred due to a few technical elements and by the redundant use of hand gestures by some characters.

Supporting much of the comedic energy of the show was the dynamic crew of band members. Specifically, Caitlyn Castiglione (Back Up Singer 2) was spot on with her comedic timing and relieved much of the dramatic tension of the show with a her hilarious silent facials.

Leading characters, like Bruno Enciso as Evan Wyler, coated the stage with naturalism and motivated physicality. Playing Wyler’s twisted love interest/ultimate betrayer Alexa Vere de Vere, was Jillian Ramunno.  Ramunno displayed rightfully artificial characterization and held chemistry with every relationship that the script had intended for her.

In regards to technical elements, the set was very creative. It consisted of a bright LED screen that enhanced location and setting in an innovative way. On the screen were accurate representations of art historical pieces that related directly to major plot points and motifs of the show. Though the historical implements and set design were commendable, scene changes had little fluidity and actors could sometimes be heard from offstage.

As a whole, Western High School’s production gave the audience an important moral to apply to themselves:  the craving for fame can consume you, and the hunger for it will devour you just “As Bees in Honey Drown.”

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Reviews of Twelve Angry Jurors performed at St. Thomas Aquinas High School on Sunday, 3/15/2015

By Nick Lopez of Cypress Bay High School

“12 Angry Jurors” and a packed audience of captivated spectators sat around a heated table in St. Thomas Aquinas’s auditorium, where the fate of a young man accused of murder was discussed enthrallingly at the hands of a thoroughly invested cast.

Originally titled “12 Angry Men” due to a traditionally all-male cast, this play was adapted from a 1954 teleplay by  Reginald Rose. It opened in London in 1964, and in 2005 its Broadway revival earned a Tony for Best Revival of a Play. The entire play focuses on a post-trial discussion in which twelve jury members must come to a consensus on a homicide case regarding a young man who has been accused of murdering his father; in  this trial, a guilty verdict will lead to a mandatory death sentence.

Staged in a theatre-in-the-round style, St. Thomas’s “12 Angry Jurors” had a sense of intimate claustrophobia which was gracefully handled by an ensemble cast that impressively maintained character throughout an hour and a half of uninterrupted dialogue.  Although some actors had difficulty in creating distinct, unforced, and well-constructed personas, overall the cast did an impressive job of interpreting their complex source material and kept up a fluid pace throughout.

Kayla Kisseadoo was the driving force behind the production as Juror #8, the juror who challenges an otherwise unanimous guilty verdict at the beginning of the play and forces the others to consider a possible “reasonable doubt.”  Kisseadoo perfectly captured the multi-layered, composed pensiveness of her character by finding resonating tension in a calm demeanor. Her dialogue was delivered sharply and naturally, and a clear understanding of her role gave her powerful stage presence.

Other standout performances came from Christine Rowe, who played the initially skeptical Juror #4, and Michael Shelfer, who played the semi-volatile Juror #7. Through confident and well-executed line delivery, both Rowe and Shelfer built organic character arcs that nicely developed the central conflicts  of the play. An excellent collective commitment to individualized mannerisms and character development was exemplified in  Chiara Montali’s performance as Juror #10. Montali’s facials and physicality were carefully assembled, fabulously executed, and consistently applied  to create an extremely distinguished character that stood out despite having a less prominent role.

St. Thomas’s minimalistic set and lighting design was simple but effective in directing the audience’s full attention towards the performances. Aging make-up was inconsistent but impressive when effectively applied, and well-managed city sound effects created a fitting ambiance for the production.

Having modern spectators enjoy a  50 year old play may sound like a difficult task, but St. Thomas’s powerful cast had no trouble in making “12 Angry Jurors” as entertaining as a Judge Judy television marathon and as riveting as an episode of Law and Order.  The gavel has struck, the jury has convened, and the audience’s applause speaks an unmistakable verdict: St. Thomas’s latest production was an admirable success way, way beyond reasonable doubt.

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By Kaley Nelson of Plantation High

How would you feel if your life was in the hands of 12 people? How would you feel if you were one of those 12? Well, this is exactly the anxiety-laden situation portrayed in St. Thomas Aquinas High School’s production of 12 Angry Jurors.

This story was originally coined with the name “12 Angry Men”, and was based off a CBS teleplay from 1954. The story’s entirety takes place inside of a jury room on a hot summer day. The 12 jurors are tasked with determining whether a 19-year-old man is guilty of killing his father — a capital crime. Throughout the play, the audience witnesses the changes each character goes through and the frustration they endure while certain jurors try to incite a unanimous decision out of the rest of the group. The end results in just one very angry man being persuaded to change his vote to “not guilty.” This play received both a Drama Desk Award and a Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play.

This cast of just 15 individuals was tasked with bringing this story to life in a most unique way. The show was staged in theatre-in-the-round to create an intimate environment where the audience surrounded the actors. Although this did make it difficult to see the actors’ facial expressions at some points in the story, a couple of actors got up and walked around at crucial parts in the storyline so all members could see and hear what was happening. The staging of the show and the lack of an intermission ultimately did create a more intimate and exhausting environment for both the actors and the audience.

Although some characters failed to make themselves memorable while onstage, Juror #8 (Kayla Kisseadoo) displayed incredibly dynamic characterization. Despite the persecution she experienced from the other jurors, she remained cool and collected, only raising her voice when necessary to emphasize the intensity of the moment. Her characterization was fluid and never faltered, making her a talented protagonist.

Juror #3 (Christian Hernandez) was notable for his intensity and consistent characterization as bitter and thoroughly irritated by anyone who had an opinion opposite of his. His anger was starkly juxtaposed against the rest of the group’s more measured responses, making him stand out as the antagonist of the show. His interactions with Juror #8 were also notable, as they had tension between each other that helped contribute to the frustrated nature of the situation.

The actors, as a whole, displayed mostly consistent characters, making gestures and facial expressions that not only exemplified those often associated with a hot summer’s day, but assisted in rounding out their characters as individuals.

The technical aspects of the show were simple, but contributed to effectively portraying what was going on. Despite there being a few slight audio issues, the sound was clear and concise. There were even sound effects of cars honking and other miscellaneous city noises that really helped to create a more realistic setting for the actors.

Overall, St. Thomas Aquinas High School’s portrayal of 12 Angry Jurors was one that all who attended were guilty of enjoying.

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By Bruno Enciso of Western High

Twelve Reasons to go watch St. Thomas Aquinas’s rendition of 12 ANGRY JURORS:
1.    Written by Reginald Rose and adapted by Sherman Sergal 12 ANGRY JURORS won the 2005 Tony Award for best revival and critical acclaim for its commentary on democracy, human nature, and the lingering bias within all of us.

2.    Murder. Murder of the first degree has been committed, our “most serious” act against civil society. Accompanied by the most serious consequence of our court system, capital punishment, the life of the alleged perpetrator finds itself balanced on a scale of moral bias.  Together, 12 jurors will mope in and out of doubt revealing a fundamental human skepticism that only the audience may determine its existence as for the better or for the worst.

3.    Details. St. Thomas’s cast maintained a close attention to detail in their performance especially in the continuity of the summer season and physical effect on the jurors.

4.    But you don’t want to hear about seasons; you want to hear about character arc! And there were plenty, at first Kayla Kisseadoo (Juror #8) skepticism burdens the jury- defining herself as a character to stick-up for others. In consistent attitude and appropriately smug posture she champions herself as a strong female role against the arrogance and ignorance of Juror #3.

5.    Christian Hernandez (Juror #3). Always stirring, Christian found continuity in his character with volume always peaking in his lines.

6.    Michael Shelfer (Juror #7). Michael animated and distinctively characterized juror #7 in mannerisms of toying with pens, delicacy of handling props, and vocal fluctuation in line delivery. Although I suspect the innocence of the teen perpetrator, I’m guilty in admitting Michael’s talent.

7.    Development. As the plot thickens and the jury becomes more worn-out so does the audience. This element of the show could only be achieved by the ensemble of jurors acting together as a unit progressively pounding out facts- which they did.

8.    Robert Lawlor (Juror #9). Lawlor as this old man entrances the audience with his wisdom and physicality.

9.    Staging. Assessing “theater-in-the-round” staging made the whole play very intimate and locked the audience in the room just like the jurors, a very creative element.

10.    Comedy? Not really but with the depression of the jurors and the nuance of the show, some lines can’t help but be chuckled at, the cast does a fun job in revealing the ironies present in the script.

11.    Drama. At times a bit overdone one must try on purpose to take away the drama from this script and for the most part, Aquinas’s cast had no serious hindering on their performance except a casual microphone error.

12.    Relevance. Whether we like it or not, we must- in a democracy- make the sacrifice, must undergo the system- we must all… grudgingly serve on a jury.

So, is there any reasonable doubt you wouldn’t want to see St. Thomas’s production?

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By Maggie Behan of Cardinal Gibbons

A locked room is filled with summer heat, short tempers, differing opinions, and two switchblades — no wonder these jurors are angry. Such is the tenuous situation facing the titular characters of “12 Angry Jurors,” as performed by St. Thomas Aquinas High School.

Written in 1954 as a teleplay by Reginald Rose, “12 Angry Jurors” was first adapted for the stage in 1955 and ran on Broadway for 328 performances. The court case being decided by said jurors is whether a young man accused of stabbing his father to death is guilty or not guilty, and the jury flip-flops between these weighty options over the course of one day of deliberation. At the start of the discussion, it’s 11-1, guilty. Soon, however, a pervasive seed of reasonable doubt is planted by the persuasive Juror #8.

With a nearly bare stage surrounded on all sides by the audience, these 12 jurors were under pressure to perform, and they delivered admirably. The cast presented consistent and believable characterization amidst palpable tension, maintaining both their own energy and the audience’s attention despite a largely stationary show consisting of one scene, no breaks.

Kayla Kisseadoo commanded the room as the assertive and analytical Juror #8. With quiet power and intrinsic authority, she propelled the plot through her compelling arguments for reasonable doubt. Foiling off of Kisseadoo’s subtle control was Christian Hernandez as the loud, argumentative, and irrational Juror #3. Hernandez’s cocky and contrary characterization provided an anchor, remaining steady throughout the ever-swaying opinions of the other jurors.

Juror #7, played by Michael Shelfer, exhibited a particularly noteworthy constancy. The flippant #7 was both consistent and consistently real throughout the entirety of the deliberation. Christine Rowe, meanwhile, was ever so cool, calm, and collected as the thoughtfully reasoning Juror #4. Rowe brought refined tension to her interactions with both Juror #8 and Juror #3.

Although approached minimalistically, the virtually nonexistent sets never left anything to be desired. Likewise, sound and lighting were kept simple, but clean and effective. Muted background sounds of everyday life added realism to the already believable performance. Despite the odd booming of the mics, the performers nailed their projection, and not a word was missed.

When a man’s life is at stake, what lengths must you go to in order to unearth evidence of his innocence — or, at the very least, a lack of evidence of his guilt? St. Thomas Aquinas High School investigated this question thoroughly and professionally in their staging of “12 Angry Jurors,” proving that this cast is guilty of nothing but a noteworthy production.

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By Christian Ubillus of Deerfield Beach High School

At St. Thomas Aquinas High School, 12 jurors meet to discuss a trial. A man’s life is in their hands. None of them have anything to gain or lose by giving a verdict, yet this production of “12 Angry Jurors” called their own decency as human beings into question.

Originally portrayed as a 1950s television drama entitled “12 Angry Men” by Reginald Rose, it was adapted into its current version by Sherman Sergel. The story revolves around the personal struggles experienced by those entrusted with a man’s life. As the jurors deliberate, their personal histories, internal conflicts, and raw emotions prevent them from cooperating with each other and from reaching a verdict. With a successful 2004 Broadway revival, this drama accurately shines light on the heavy responsibility placed on jurors everywhere.

Presented by way of theater-in-the-round, audience members were seated on all four sides of the actors to accentuate the tension of the room. Looking past that, the sheer strength of the ensemble created an intimate ambiance between them and the spectators. We were drawn to their dilemma and their angst, especially when this combined with the minimalist set, lighting, and sound utilized. Even the occasional mike problems only added to the heaviness of the show, a heaviness constantly on our minds.

Among such a strong ensemble, the leads were deemed those figuratively acting as the main defense and the main prosecution of the defendant. Juror 8, Kayla Kisseadoo, not only brought life to her character, but gave life to each line she uttered. Armed with her signature phrase, “A man’s life is at stake,” she swayed both the jurors and the audience to see the reasonable doubt of the defendant’s guilt. In sharp contrast to her poised and polished nature, Juror 3, Christian Hernandez, gave a high energy showing as the hot-headed juror who simply would not listen to reason.

Also standing out were jurors 7 (Michael Shelfer), 4 (Christine Rowe), 9 (Robert Lawlor), and 11 (Veronica Slubowski). Shelfer and Rowe found the highs and lows of their earnest performances with dynamic transformations from guilty to non-guilty verdicts. Lawlor introduced another emotional level to the drama as the older, and sometimes wiser, juror. Meanwhile, Slubowski, as the foreign juror, reminded us all of how fortunate we are to even live in a country where democracy prevails.

Intense and exhaustive, St. Thomas’s production resonated with the audience as it made us realize what value we should place, and what value we actually place, on the human life.

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Reviews of The Addams Family at West Boca High School on Friday, 3/13/2015

By Kelsey Malanowski of North Broward Preparatory School

They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky… West Boca High’s compelling and spine-chilling performance left you feeling like a member of the family in their production of “The Addams Family”.

The Addams Family is a musical comedy with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa and book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. The show is based on The Addams Family characters created by Charles Addams, which depict a ghoulish American family with an affinity for all things grotesque. Nominated for two Tony Awards, “The Addams Family” follows Wednesday Addams’ secret proposal to Lucas Beineke. However, it is when the square Beineke family is invited to stay for dinner at the eccentric Addams’ household, that chaos and hilarity ensue.

Eddie Datz did an amazing job of portraying the man of the house, boisterous and hispanic Gomez. Datz’s incredible energy never waned and, from his singing to his fencing, his performance was truly admirable. Right by his side was the remarkable Morticia, played by Lydia Castillo. Castillo was an excellent leading lady; she had wonderful vocal ability as well as terrific stage presence. Together, the two had excellent comedic timing and chemistry, and were a joy to watch.

Of course, besides the heads of the house, the Addams Family is filled with an array of characters, and the many actors who played them did an excellent job. Nick Anarumo, for example, excelled in capturing the quirkiness of his narrative character, Uncle Fester. Likewise, Tessa Burkhart who played Wednesday gave a dynamic performance as she was torn between her family and her new love.

Also, the ensemble of ghostly Ancestors were incredible in their performance. Their ghoulish makeup and costumes were stunning, and their presence always elevated the show. Where many elements of the performance were haunting, the most evocative moments were when the entire cast sang together with great harmonies and dancing.

Technically, the show was superb. The student-done makeup, set, and props greatly aided in creating the wonderfully spooky atmosphere and created a whole other world.

With an impressive amount of talented actors, singers, and dancers, West Boca High delivered a thrilling and unforgettable performance of “The Addams Family”.

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By Grant Brecheisen of Western High

Kooky characters, long-lasting laughs, and an inseparable family that would make Edgar Allen Poe raise an eyebrow were all found on the stage at West Boca High School in their performance of The Addams Family.

The Addams Family musical is based off of the cartoon characters created by Charles Addams. Previously there were a few films and television shows. The Addams Family musical was produced and first performed on Broadway in 2010, starring Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth. The story covers the Addams family during a controversial time. Teenaged Wednesday Addams has fallen in love with a boy, Lucas. The problem is, Lucas is just too normal. After a series of events and some tension between the family, the characters realize that love can’t be broken and will live on.

West Boca’s performance was filled with talent and decorated with laughs which made for an entertaining night. The whole cast distinctly made characterizations that brought a load of life to the stage, whether it was a stone-like Frankenstein or a dead Native American. The actors got a ton of laughs out of the audience due to their great comedic timing and execution of the punch lines.

Eddie Datz (Gomez) carried the show with his show-stopping presence. His vocals were very pleasing to listen too and he had the audience cracking up with just about every line he said. Datz really shined when he was joined on stage with Lydia Castillo (Morticia). Castillo gave a jaw-dropping performance. Her singing was so divinely pure and incredibly impressively, especially in the song “Just Around the Corner”. She wowed the audience with her acting ability in that she perfectly executed a stoic character with enough expression.

Nick Anarumo (Fester) supported the show terrifically with his breaking of the fourth wall as the narration character. Anarumo knew how to engage the audience and take a grasp of them through his line delivery and natural ability to entertain. Anarumo was definitely a pleasure to watch.

The most impressive aspect to the technicalities of The Addams Family was the attention to detail. Although the set wasn’t designed by students, it was constructed by students exceptionally well. Their effort and hard work put into the set was apparent with the masterfully detailed construction. The makeup for the show was out of this world. Even from the back of the auditorium the depth and the life that the makeup gave to the show was evident. The phenomenal makeup really added a completely new dimension to the show and helped bring the audience into to the atmosphere.

West Boca High School put on a performance filled with a talented cast and enjoyable executions in The Addams Family. With the setting and the atmosphere that West Boca produced, they showed you the eventful life lived when you’re an Addams!

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By Kyle Valencia of West Broward High School

It’s creepy and it’s kooky, it’s West Boca High Schools stellar performance of The Addams Family. This musical was a fantastic act consisting of dark under tones and great comedy, excellently executed by the students at West Boca High.

Based off the cartoon by Charles Addams and TV show of the same name, The Addams Family now appears in musical form containing a score and lyrics by Andrew Lippa. In this rendition of the Addams, the gang is up to their spooky antics again as young Wednesday Addams falls in love with the normal-seeming Lucas Beineke. In an attempt to bond the two families together for Wednesday’s sake, comedic chaos entails as Wednesday and the other Addams attempt to seem more “normal” to the unsuspecting Beineke family.

Stand out lead performances included Gomez Addams (Eddie Datz) who exemplified excellent comedic timing and an impressive ability to keep up a rather difficult accent. Wednesday (Tessa Burkhart) also did a fantastic job keeping up the iconic monotone deviousness of her character intact with excellent use of physical acting. Burkhart was also able to pull across Wednesday’s character development as a teenage girl. Although some of the other cast members somewhat struggled with their parts vocally, Morticia (Lydia Castillo) excelled greatly displaying her unparalleled vocal and acting control, able to make certain songs sound crisp and clear effortlessly.

Consisting of an ensemble of about 22 students, the Ancestors were able to show off their singing and dancing skills in multiple songs throughout the show mainly in “When You’re An Adams” as well as “Just Around The Corner”. The most noteworthy aspects of the ancestors was their ability to pump out solid harmonies, a sign that this group of students truly put a lot of time and effort into making this play sound as good as it did. Specific supporting characters that excelled would be Alice Beineke (Jenna Levine) who got to show off excellent vocal ability in “Waiting,” as well as Fester Addams (Nick Anarumo) who displayed great narration skills on stage.

The technical aspects of this show were nothing short of amazing. Not only did the show have an intricate and well-designed set, but the lighting also was able to shine by masking the stage in the matching tone of the dark and ghostly themes of the play. Although on certain characters it was hard to see the eyes of the actors, the make up in this show was outstanding. By using the unconventional method of air brushing, the makeup gave iconic stage presence to each character while preserving the shows naturally dark undertone.

A well committed cast and a professional level of tech and make up gave for a spooky experience in the theater that only The Addams Family could provide. Overall, this show deserves two classic Addams family snaps.

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By Ashley McFadden of Plantation High

Are you into the unusual? Maybe you are fond of what is beyond our mortal lives? Is death a thought that intrigues you? Well don’t worry, West Boca High School’s production of The Addams Family is the perfect show for you!

With the book written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, and music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, the adaptation from the famous television show and movie “The Addams Family” was brought to the Broadway stage in 2010. The story of a love-struck pair of not so compatible teenagers creates tension and catastrophe amongst two families. As Wednesday Addams and Lucas Beineke’s love blossoms (and wilts), Gomez’s promise, and only secret ever kept from his wife Morticia, nearly tears the rest of the Addams family apart.

An extremely talented cast of about 30 students were chosen to bring this iconic family to the stage. As the matriarch of the Addams, Morticia (played by Lydia Castillo) was a beautiful attribute to the production. Her acting was impeccable and her singing was superb. Her song “Just Around the Corner” was a show-stopping number. Eddie Datz who played Gomez Addams was a powerful performer. Every aspect of his performance was top notch. Singing was smooth, line delivery and timing was superior, and dancing was impressive.

Alice (Jenna Levine) had a captivating singing voice and her connection with her character was outstanding. Ryan Lim (Mal) had strong stage presence and great vocal ability. Fester (Nick Anarumo) was a stupendous comedian. His narrating ability was impressive and his line delivery and timing was great. His song “The Moon and Me” was a gut-busting yet heartwarming song that was very captivating. The ensemble of the Addams Family’s Ancestors was outstanding. Every aspect from their vocals to their harmonies and dancing were near impeccable.

In such a crazy situation, comedy is one of the biggest factors of the performance. Grandma (Christina Valera) left a lasting impression with minimal lines. Her body language and accent were never overdone and she let her presence be known. Another humorous aspect to the show was Pugsley (Spencer Glazer) who was a joy to watch on stage. His acting was enjoyable and his expressions were hilarious.

On the technical side of the show, the set was incredible and very eye-catching. The house was  very useful and creative. The stage crew (led by Nick Morelli) worked fast and put the sets on stage with few mishaps. The standout of the show was by far the makeup. Designed and applied by multiple students, the airbrush technique was executed with much success and added a lot to the characters performance.

West Boca High School’s production of The Addams Family was nothing shy of fabulous. With show stopping numbers, incredible acting and an amazing set and makeup, the chaotic yet heartwarming story of an engagement gone wrong was put together and told beautifully.

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By Josie Roth of North Broward Preparatory School

“Full disclosure, it’s a hell of a thing!” Well, in the interest of full disclosure, it must be confessed: West Boca High School’s production of ‘The Addams Family’ was a hit!

‘The Addams Family’ is based on Charles Addams’ classic cartoons featured in The New Yorker, which also spawned four television series (some animated) and multiple films. With music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa and a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, the show premiered on Broadway in April 2010, was nominated for eight Drama Desk awards, and has since had two successful national tours. The raucous comedy follows the titular family as, after their daughter reveals her engagement to an exceedingly normal boy, they are challenged to shed their eccentricities and create “One Normal Night” when the fiancé’s family comes to town.

West Boca took the challenge of performing this sidesplitting show head-on. The cast as a whole throughout the production showed an outrageous amount of energy and precision, which proved to be advantageous in the multiple high-energy ensemble musical numbers such as “When You’re an Addams” and “Full Disclosure.”

Eddie Datz as Gomez Addams, the father of the household who finds himself caught between wanting to please both his daughter and wife, showcased his comedic timing and clear stage presence as he led the show to success. Morticia Addams, the highly persuasive matriarch who struggles with her daughter’s maturity, was portrayed by Lydia Castillo, whose stellar acting and vocal abilities shone in such touching musical numbers as “Just Around the Corner.” The parents’ clear chemistry was a highlight of the show, adding a touch of sincerity to the otherwise wacky production.

Among a plethora of supporting actors, two showstoppers were Uncle Fester and Wednesday Addams (played by Nick Anarumo and Tessa Burkhart, respectively), two family members with quirks of their own. Anarumo was delightful as the goofy Fester, and his interactions with the ensemble of Addams Ancestors were all at once charming and hilarious. Burkhart brought an emotional depth to her portrayal of Wednesday, and her raw emotion in such numbers as “Pulled” and “Crazier Than You” added to the believability of the production.

Tech aspects of the show ran smoothly. The technical crew performed set and scene changes quickly and quietly, and sound and light cues were timely and precise. The student-built set should be noted for its versatility and high-quality construction, as well.

Ultimately, West Boca High School embraced ‘The Addams Family’ with gusto and zeal that one could feel even from the audience. They showed us that family comes above all else, and that though we may all have our quirks, it’s our oddities that make us who we are!

Reviews of In the Heights at Cypress Bay High School on Thursday, 3/12/2015

By Melissa Kean of Piper High School

What do coffee, fireworks, photo albums, and the lottery all have in common? Well, they were all apart of Cypress Bay High School’s magical production of In the Heights.

In the Heights takes place within a New York Dominican-American neighborhood in Washington Heights. This musical is about a series of characters that all go through different kinds of struggles in their lives. The music and lyrics for In the Heights were written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, while the book was written by Quiara Alegria Hudes. It opened on Broadway in 2008, but the show was performed before that in other various locations. In the Heights was nominated for fourteen Tony Awards and won four, including: Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Choreography, and Best Orchestrations.  It also won a Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album.

Cypress Bay High School’s rendition of In the Heights was lively and delightful. It consisted of memorable vocal performances and dancers all throughout the show. The comedic timing was faultless, each joke and punchline had the audience members laughing with ease.

The highly likable Usnavi, played by Jon Batista, truly became the character and never missed a beat with his rhythmic songs. Batista remained in character for the entire show, ultimately leaving audience members with a believable and engaging performance. Usnavi’s love interest, Vanessa, played by Laura Munevar, had an admirable vocal performance and showed off her dancing ability in the club scene. Nina, a girl struggling with both college and love, played by Suzie Fyodosov took the stage with her outstanding vocal range in the several solos she sang. Nina’s love interest, Benny, played by Benny Elfont, had authentic chemistry with Suzie Fyodosov, creating a truthful love story between the two characters.

Other actors worth noting include Paloma Leon, who played the plausible, adorable Abuela Claudia, Michael Valladares, who played Usnavi’s riotous younger brother Sonny, and last but not least, Ivan Azcarate and Magali Trench, who played Kevin and Camila the strict, yet caring parents who only want the best for their daughter Nina.

The technical aspects were detailed and interesting. Each costume matched the character’s personality very well and remained convincing throughout the production. The sets were quite humble yet realistic as well, each time an actor shifted positions on stage we were taken to a different part of town. Although their use of lighting and props could be expanded, the production overall flowed nicely and was enjoyable nonetheless.

Cypress Bay High School truly made the audience part of their production of In the Heights, leaving the audience with a positive energy as they exit the theatre.

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By Megan Merino of The Sagemont School

If you can smell the scent of freshly made coffee from the corner bodega, hear a fusion of three generations of music with an undeniable latin flare and come across a man with a cart trying to sell Piragua’s, then chances are you are watching IN THE HEIGHTS the musical.

Cypress Bay High School took on the difficult task of performing this innovative musical, written by Quiara Alegria Hudes with music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda. It is set in Washington Heights, New York and follows the lives of a tightknit Latin American neighborhood over a period of three days. The multiple story lines combine romance with comedy as well as struggle and evoke laughter, tears and much more from the audience watching.  The tony award winning musical isn’t only packed with energy, lovable characters and music that has people dancing in their seats, but tells the story of a community trying to pursue careers and chase their dreams, despite the hardships that are inevitable in life.

Cypress Bay’s production of IN THE HEIGHTS captured the true essence of the musical and stayed very true to the original performance in terms of costumes and set. The energy from the cast was consistently and high and gave the audience no choice but to go on the emotional journey with them. The choreography fitted in the contemporary style of the show and was executed well by the cast with high energy and effort.

The lead actors gave note-worthy performances and showed versatility in effectively capturing the different genres of music in the show. The role of Nina, played by Suzie Fyodosov, gave a beautiful vocal performance throughout, along with Usnavi, played by Jon Batista, who managed to convey deep emotion through his many rapping parts. The romance between Nina and Benny, played by Benny Elfont, added another level of realism to the show. The natural chemistry that they showed to have on stage made their characters all the more believable.

The supporting cast met the high standards set for them by their leads and added dimension to the entire performance. Paloma Leon gave a heart-warming performance as the character of Abuela Claudia through her great character choices and consistency throughout. Playing an older character can be very challenging and Leon should be commended for her great interpretation of the role. The character of Daniela played by Erica Steinkohl added another level of humor to the performance with her bold costumes and make-up and even bolder sassy attitude. Energy was lacking in some of the ensemble members but was often compensated for by more prominent actors, however the harmonies sung by all members of the cast in the bigger numbers were tight and powerful.

The set used for the production was realistic, intricate and aesthetically pleasing. The costumes worn by the cast members suited their personalities well and added to the contemporary feel of the show. Vanessa, played by Laura Munevar, wore feminine clothes that suited her flirty character and a flowing red dress that only enhanced the choreography in the The Club scene.

Cypress Bay High School’s performance of IN THE HEIGHTS was an emotional, humorous, romantic and heart-breaking show that was executed with grace and precision. The cast along with the technical aspects of the show fused to create a performance not to be missed.

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By Eden Skopp of Stoneman Douglas High School

Lights up on Washington Heights at the break of day. The rattle of a shop grate, the rumble of traffic, and shouts of “¡buenos días!” punctuate the early morning air as the aroma of brewing coffee floats from the bodega. Cypress Bay High School’s production of “In the Heights” journeys to the world at top of the subway map.

Inspired by people and events that touched his own life, Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote the book and music of “In the Heights” to document the story of a vibrant immigrant community in Washington Heights, which debuted in 2007, and won four Tony awards in 2008. With a fierce pride in their heritage, the people of the barrio struggle against gentrification, discover dreams, reminisce, and fall in love “in the Heights.”

Spouting Usnavi’s honest verse, Jon Batista exhibited impeccable diction and characterization. As the show’s quasi-narrator, Batista developed a characterization that was distinctively and effortlessly Dominican, being both fast paced and punctuated in his delivery. Benny Elfont (Benny) and Suzie Fyodosov’s (Nina) voices blended well together and their romantic chemistry seemed genuine. Paloma Leon (Abuela Claudia) was consistent in her portrayal of her careworn character’s physicality.

The performance of the salon girls, Daniela (Erica Steinkohl) and Carla (Gillian Rabin) diverged from the way the traditional portrayal of the two women. Steinkohl and Rabin portrayed their characters as closer to their own age instead of two middle-aged women holding on to their youth. At times this interpretation went at odds with the script, but Steinkohl maintained Daniela’s vivaciousness distinctly and Rabin carried Carla’s perkiness through every scene.

A modern show such as “In the Heights” might be easier for a high school cast to identify with but there seemed to be a lack of understanding of the show’s deep cultural roots, and even in the particular history of the relationships between the residents of Washington Heights. The cast performed well, but the show could have been enhanced further by that additional dynamic.

In light of the newly revived public discussion of immigration in America, Cypress Bay High School’s production of “In the Heights” provided a taste of what its like to make a new start.

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By Maggie Behan of Cardinal Gibbons

Nina dropped out of Stanford, Usnavi is in love with Vanessa, and someone won the lottery–no me diga! Such is the drama unfolding over an action packed three days in the poor Hispanic neighborhood of Washington Heights in the aptly named “In the Heights”, as performed by Cypress Bay High School.

Written in 2005 by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes, “In the Heights” ran for three years on Broadway. The story opens with introductions by Usnavi, the quick-rapping owner of a tiny grocery store in the close-knit barrio. Among Washington Heights’ other inhabitants are Benny, the only honorary Hispanic of the group; Vanessa, who wants nothing more than to get out of the barrio; Nina, who actually did get out, until she lost her scholarship to Stanford; and Abuela Claudia, the entire neighborhood’s grandmother and the glue holding together their fragile lives. Benny is in love with Nina, Usnavi with Vanessa, and someone in the barrio has won the $96,000 lottery, an inconceivable fortune to the dwellers of Washington Heights–but who could it be?

With professional vocals and intuitive comedic timing, Cypress Bay’s cast delivered on a very difficult show. Despite occasional vocal straining in solos and a sometimes lost-looking ensemble, the cast impressed with believable emotion in both songs and lines.

Suzie Fyodosov embodied the hardworking Nina in everything from her lines to her posture as she belted out difficult notes–such as those in her heart-tugging rendition of “Breathe”–with power, control, and ease. Jon Batista, meanwhile, clearly articulated every line of the fast-talking Usnavi, holding the heart of the show in his very capable hands. The show was further carried by Laura Munevar, whose harsh realism as Vanessa grounded the rest of the characters while entrancing the audience with her polished powerhouse voice.

No accent was more consistent than that of Erica Steinkohl as Daniela. Steinkohl consistently portrayed the gossipy humor of her role, maintaining character even when she wasn’t the focus of the scene. Her partner in crime, Carla, played by Gillian Rabin, never failed to garner laughs with her dimwitted antics. This duo’s comedic relief was aided and abetted by Michael Vallardes’s slick and smooth Sonny, with impeccable comedic timing and clear diction.

The talented cast was was bolstered by quick cue-work; every track was delivered precisely on time. Despite occasional difficulty in finding and holding their subjects, spots and other lighting were generally timely, and very creative in scenes such as “Blackout”. The crew was efficient and rarely seen as they manipulated the innovative sets.

Cypress Bay High School offered an impressive level of vocal talent and a mature understanding of a complex book. Despite the occasional strained vocals and lighting issues, the cast demonstrated that all it takes is a little paciencia y fé to survive in the heights.

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By Aaron Bourque of South Plantation High School

Vivid graffiti streaks the walls of a jaded bodega in the barrio. However, with a little rhythm and a lot of Latin spice, this place seems anything but jaded in Cypress Bay High School’s production of “In the Heights.”

With music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda and book by Quiara Alegria Hudes, In the Heights gives a glimpse of life of the Hispanic community Washington Heights in New York City. The musical features several different plotlines, but ultimately accentuates the strength of family and friendship. In the Heights is accredited with many awards, namely the 2008 Tony Award for Best Musical.

Jon Batista as bodega owner Usnavi excelled with suave and comedic rap delivery and a palpable energy onstage that consistently supported the cast throughout the show. Laura Munevar as Vanessa, Usnavi’s love interest, effectively portrayed their erratic relationship, ranging from heated exchanges of jealousy and contempt to romantically comedic interactions of awkward conversations and unopened champagne bottles. As such, their relationship and chemistry onstage shone in the song “Champagne,” featuring clumsy, yet amusing flirts that lead to their first, climatic kiss.

Suzie Fyodosov as Nina, the Stanford University dropout who returns to the neighborhood, impressed with powerful, yet controlled vocals showcased in songs such as “Breathe” and “Everything I Know,” also capturing the emotions of student angst and death. Benny Elfont as Benny, the only non-Hispanic person in the Washington Heights community, effectively portrayed his cultural incongruities, specifically in his broken Spanish phrases. As a couple, Fyodosov and Elfont successfully displayed the characterization and emotion behind the thematic “forbidden romance” nature of their relationship, and capitalized on tender moments, especially in the song “Sunrise,” with the couple isolated on an apartment balcony.

Characters such as Daniela (Erica Steinkohl), Sonny (Michael Valladares), and Piragua Guy (Nick Lopez) successfully dominated the comedic elements of the show, but still maintaining impeccable accents that emphasized their cultural backgrounds. Paloma Leon spearheaded the matriarchal character of Abuela Claudia, introducing a motherly and caring group dynamic with Batista and Fyodosov. As a whole, the Spanish accents provided by most of the cast were believable, consistent, but still understandable.

The ensemble, which consisted mainly of Washington Heights residents, featured strong vocals and coordinated, captivating dance routines that supported many emotional moments throughout the show, chiefly during “The Club” number. Although they, at times, seem cluttered on stage, most committed to their character during dialogue, and were often scene fanning themselves or gossiping as stage business.

From student-made costumes to fast scene changes, the show, technically, ran commendably. Although sound issues were present, they were not greatly distracting. Numbers such as “The Club” and “Blackout” were completely choreographed by students Magali Trench and Julia Thomas, and featured passionate, synchronized movements typical of the Spanish Salsa.

With a compelling family dynamic, Cypress Bay High School reminded that “everything is easier when you’re home” in their production of “In the Heights.”



Reviews of The Mystery of Edwin Drood at University School of NSU on Saturday, 3/7

By Laralee Simpson of Archbishop McCarthy High School

A play within a play? Though this concept may seem complex, University School had the audience laughing, cheering, and even hissing with their stellar production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Set in the Victorian era, The Mystery of Edwin Drood is a musical that encourages audience participation to decide the outcome of the serial publications written by Charles Dickens. In the middle of writing these episodic stories, Dickens tragically died on June 9, 1870, unable to finish the story. Now, years later, revealing a murderer among a cast of many colorful characters, the long-lasting mystery of Edwin Drood can be resolved.

As soon as the lights went down and the cast came out into the aisles, jaws dropped to the floor. The costumes of each and every actor were expertly crafted to fit the era and setting of the show. Aesthetically, the show was stunning! Both sets and props were perfectly designed and created to fit each scene. From the turkey during the dinner scene to the drinks in the wine glasses, everything looked realistic and precise. Scene changes were fluid and not at all distracting to the audience.

The title-role of Edwin Drood was played by Laura Galindo. Every time Galindo walked on stage (no matter whom she portrayed), she owned that character and piece of stage, never forcing the character onto the audience. She had natural movement and a phenomenal voice to compliment it, keeping the audience intrigued and wanting more. Two other awe-inspiring actors that deserve to be commended are the Landless twins, played by Avrumie Tornheim and Andie Garcia. With their synchronized movements and “untraceable geographical accents”, this duo had the audience laughing and loving every minute they were on stage.

Michelle Langone played the role of Rosa Bud, Edwin Drood’s fiancé. Her stunning soprano voice was captivating and left the audience wide-eyed and speechless. Through her hand gestures and the strain in her face, one could almost feel the anguish her character was experiencing throughout the show. Jacob Greene, portraying the character of John Jasper, possessed a physicality on stage that was swift and precise as he managed to sing all of his notes perfectly without ever losing sight of his character.

The ensemble played an immense and important role to the performance. With their high energy and synced choreography, they helped the audience step into the Victorian time period with their natural movements against the backdrops of the different scenes. Everyone’s character was believable, which is crucial in any theatrical show.

By the end of the night, the audience had come up with an answer to the mystery that had been laid before them. Though that answer will most likely change at the next performance, the cast and audience accomplished the feat of finally finding out the true Mystery of Edwin Drood.

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By Josie Roth of North Broward Preparatory School

“Now I’ve confessed, now we both can rest!” Well, there’s no need to confess; it’s no secret that University School of Nova Southeastern University’s production of ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’ was a hit!

‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’ is based on Charles Dickens’ unfinished novel of the same name. With music, lyrics, and a book by Rupert Holmes, the show premiered on Broadway in 1985 and went on to win five Tony awards, including Best Musical. The raucous comedy follows a fledgling British theatre company as it puts on a production of ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’; the play within the play follows the disappearance of rich magnate Edwin Drood and the ensuing investigation. Because Dickens’ novel remained unfinished, the musical is designed around a “choose-your-own-adventure” device, wherein the audience is able to vote on the murderer, thus choosing the end of the show.

University School took the challenge of performing this sidesplitting show head-on. The inclusion of audience interaction throughout the show brought dozens of priceless moments and allowed the actors to demonstrate their clear improvisational skills. The cast as a whole throughout the production showed an outrageous amount of energy and eagerness, which proved to be advantageous in the multiple high-energy ensemble musical numbers such as “There You Are” and “Off to the Races.”

Carlo Feliciani as the Chairman, who oversees the theatre company’s production and the interactive audience voting, showcased his comedic timing and secure understanding of his character as he led the show to success. Rosa Bud, Edwin Drood’s fiancée and the chosen murderer for this particular production, was portrayed by Michelle Langone, whose operatic vocals made musical numbers such as “Moonfall” and “Murderer’s Confession” highlights of the show. On top of this, Langone’s facility in her character development made Rosa’s transition from sweet debutante to callous murderer all the more entertaining.

Among a plethora of supporting actors, two showstoppers were Helena and Neville Landless (played by Andie Garcia and Avrumie Tornheim, respectively), siblings from a foreign country with self-proclaimed “geographically untraceable accents” who are suspects in the murder investigation. Garcia’s facial expressions and affectations brought the laughs, while Tornheim’s featured dancing consistently drew the attention of the audience, even during busy ensemble numbers. Both were able to showcase their improvisational skills as the audience chose the siblings to be “lovers” towards the end of the performance; their characters’ awkward discomfort during their romantic interlude was ideal comedic fodder.

Tech aspects of the show ran smoothly. The technical crew performed set and scene changes with such fluidity that one barely noticed their presence, while music cues were timely and precise. Though there were some issues with microphone feedback, they did not detract from the actors’ performances.

Ultimately, University School embraced ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’ with gusto and zeal that one could feel even from the audience. They showed us that “No Good Can Come from Bad,” and that sometimes an unpredictable ending is the best kind!

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By Samantha Gaynor of Coral Glades High School

It was the best of times, but hardly the worst of times at University School of NSU’s enchanting production of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.” With an enticing cast and secure technical elements, this delightful production went “Out on a Limerick” and delivered a multitalented show.

“The Mystery of Edwin Drood” chronicles a theatre company’s effort to depict the unfinished final novel of author Charles Dickens. Enigmatically, the leading male (played by a girl) is murdered with no culprit and the audience receives the opportunity to vote major plot decisions in this interactive “whodunit?” show-within-a-show.

The talented Laura Galindo as Edwin Drood proved her vocal prowess and her acting skill as a woman playing a woman playing a man. She was able to portray the hilariously outrageous Alice Nutting and seamlessly transition into the serious Edwin Drood and her exquisite vocals only added to her character. Carlo Feliciani’s bold stage presence as Chairman made for an entertaining and comprehensive character that remained consistent through out the show. The frightening performance delivered by Jacob Greene as John Jasper produced a tantalizing character, if a bit inconsistent with his role. Greene’s vocals shined especially in “A Man Could Go Quite Mad” and “Jasper’s Confession.”

Andie Garcia and Avrumie Tornheim as uproarious twins Helena and Neville provided a perfectly synched performance with heightened chemistry and precision. From the perfectly timed head movements to the comical “Perfect Strangers (Duet—Reprise),” Garcia and Tornheim captured the audience’s attention whenever they were on stage. Ayla Maulding as Princess Puffer conveyed a captivating character with bold character choices and flawless comedic timing. Michelle Langone well portrayed the role of the haunted Rosa Bud. With her creepily widened eyes, jerky movements, and panicked tone of voice, Langon gave life to what could have been a flat character. Her stylized vocals took the audience’s breath away, especially in her beautiful renditions of “Moonfall,” “Murderer’s Confession” and all other songs she sang.

Well developed technical elements strengthened the already impressive musical. The set designed by Christian Wong provided the perfect backdrop for the spooky British setting and the eerie lighting only intensified the creepy atmosphere. Capable stage crew distracted little from the performance as they moved quickly and efficiently in costume. Exquisite choreography created by Sophie Septoff added to the energetic dance numbers. Her choreographed numbers, “There You Are,” “Jasper’s Vision,” “Both Sides of the Coin,” “Off to the Races,” and “The Writing on the Wall” especially stood out for their beautifully fluent and synchronized movements.

Charles Dickens penned “Please, sir, I want some more” in Oliver Twist but he might as well have written it about University School of NSU’s production of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.” The cast that seamlessly blended outrageous comedic moments with deeply serious scenes combined with proficiently created technical elements created an enjoyable and complete production.

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By Kelsey Powers of Boca Raton Community High School

Drama, intrigue, and comedy: the perfect recipe for a theatrical performance. In University School’s production of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”, the players of the Music Hall Royale provide just that as the audience is whisked away to Victorian England and into the middle of a murder mystery.

“The Mystery of Edwin Drood”, with book, music, and lyrics by Rupert Holmes, opened on Broadway in 1985 and won five Tony awards, including Best Musical. It is based on Charles Dickens’ unfinished novel of the same name, and centers around the disappearance of a young Englishman and the suspicion cast on those around him, from his fiancée to the local minister. This musical is highly unique in that, since Dickens left his novel unfinished, the audience decides by vote how each performance will end.

University School’s production of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” was defined by the vocal formidability of its entire cast and by the overall smooth technical aspects, such as seamless scene changes and an impressive student-designed set that kept the audience immersed in the story throughout the performance.

As the Chairman of the Music Hall Royale and narrator of the story, Carlo Feliciani provided a solid backbone for the production, engrossing the audience in the intricacies of the play-within-a-play. In the tradition of English pantomime, the role of Edwin Drood was played by a woman, Laura Galindo, whose suave stage presence and knack for comedic timing was delightful to witness.

The rest of the cast remained truly supportive of the plot, maintaining an impressively high level of energy and characterization throughout both acts. Standing out were Avrumie Tornheim and Andie Garcia as Neville and Helena Landless, showcasing both their vocal and comedic abilities in “A British Subject” and “Perfect Strangers (Reprise),” and Michelle Langone as Rosa Bud, wowing the audience with her pitch-perfect soprano in “Moonfall” and “Perfect Strangers.”

Technically, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” was complex, yet executed smoothly, with timely lighting cues and period-appropriate costumes, makeup, and props. The stage crew, costumed to blend in with the ensemble, moved cumbersome set pieces on and off stage with ease, never detracting from the action. Occasional issues with microphone crackling distracted from the action on stage, but the phenomenal student orchestra kept the energy constant throughout the entire show.

Dreadfully delightful, University School’s production of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” was a challenge met head-on by the cast and crew. It’s certainly not a “mystery” why this production was so successful.

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By Trent Hampel of Western High

Mystery and comedy complement each other like peanut butter and jelly: they shouldn’t work but just do. Though we may never know Charles Dickens’ true ending to The Mystery of Edwin Drood, University School’s production provided constant thrills and laughs.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens covers a Victorian era tale of deceit, conflict, and conflicting romance. Dickens passed away before completing this his final novel, leaving the ending subject to the whim of the audience. The viewers select which character murdered Edwin Drood as well as the true identity of the mysterious Datchery.

Carlo Feliciani (Chairman) consistently engaged the audience with his charisma and charm and reacted exceptionally with his stipulated applause or boos and hisses. Feliciani drove the show with his consistently composed demeanor and warm, welcoming arm gestures and sly grins. Laura Galindo (Edwin Drood) played her role smoothly with natural movements and clear vocal talent. Galindo proved dynamic in transitioning into the second act, becoming the narcissistic prima donna her role called for.

Avrumie Tornheim (Neville) displayed comprehension for comedic timing and consistency in his accent. Tornheim appeared cohesive with Andie Garcia (Helena) as the overly attached siblings. Garcia was hilarious in her abrupt facial expressions and consistency in her character. Tornheim and Garcia’s incredibly awkward love ballad of incest could not have been executed any wittier.

Andrew Singer (Bazzard) appeared as the nervous, jittery, ecstatic actor that captured his character’s inexperience perfectly. Singer seized his opportunities in the spotlight and maintained his characterization throughout the show. Jacob Greene (Jasper) and Michelle Langone (Rosa) exemplified a spectacular vocal performance, Greene delivering powerful, piercing tones and Langone presenting impressive operatic control. Other standout performers included Erin Cary (Flo), Christian Wong (Stage Manager), and Kayla Gladstone (Dancer).

The show featured an array of remarkable songs, most notably “No Good Can Come From Bad.” The sharp synchronization of the number paired with a dominant choral display reflected the attention to detail in the act as a whole. Considering the degree of difficulty of the show, it is only natural to have some hiccups in the way of diction in certain songs and occasional issues with feedback from sound. Unfortunately some key actors did not grasp significant aspects of their characters. The ensembles overall seemed energetic and on point and interacted well with the audience.

University School captured with clever mystique of the show and presented The Mystery of Edwin Drood with apparent effort and thoroughness on all fronts.


Reviews of The Miracle Worker at The Sagemont School on Sunday 3/8

By Eden Skopp of Stoneman Douglas High School

You know that parable about the blind leading the blind? In Sagemont’s production of “The Miracle Worker”, this aphorism unfolded quite literally onstage in the dramatic interpretation of the unique struggle and relationship between Anne Sullivan and her pupil, Helen Keller.

When American author Mark Twain first heard of Helen Keller’s success story, he called Anne Sullivan a “miracle worker.” William Gibson repurposed this remark to use as the title of his 1957 play about the relationship between the deaf, blind, mute, and almost feral child, Helen Keller, and her teacher, Anne Sullivan. “The Miracle Worker” won five out of six Tony awards it was nominated for in the year of its debut, including the award for best play.

Foremost, Erica Merlino (Helen Keller) and Angel Martinez (Anne Sullivan) must be recognized for the high physical demand of their roles and the thoroughness with which their physical relationship was portrayed. Neither Merlino nor Martinez held back during altercations. Martinez’s eerie but sweet lullaby contributed a gentleness to the evident blossoming of the relationship between Anne and Helen. Merlino also managed to communicate Helen’s full range of expression with acute attention paid to the detail of how a deaf and blind child might truly act. Her performance was completely realistic and diverse in her expression of the complete spectrum of Helen’s emotions.

Paxton Terris (James Keller) seemed to notice his comedic role within the play as the exasperated son but he also contributed to a noticeable shift in his relationship with Jordan Bitar (Captain Keller) when he confronted his father for perhaps the first time. While the emotional commitment of some characters seemed lacking, each cast member seemed to establish a vivid relationship with Merlino’s character. The cast overall, however, could have improved their performance even further by facing more directly towards the audience and making sure they remained visible around various set pieces.

During the first act, Sagemont’s small black box theatre lost power in the middle of the scene. The actors continued with lines as a completely student run technical crew worked to solve the problem. Some trouble with elements of the clarity of sound effects and the visibility of actors with the lighting could have been improved upon but the student constructed two-tiered set enhanced visual interest and depth to the scenes. Properties added realism to the storyline with an impeccable attention to detail, from the water pump to real food at the Keller’s table.

Anne Sullivan’s story of perseverance and Helen’s story of success against all odds continue to inspire audiences today in Sagemont’s captivating production of “The Miracle Worker.”

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By Magali Trench of Cypress Bay High School

The painful yet absolutely beautiful story of Helen Keller’s childhood is brought to life in The Miracle Worker, written by William Gibson. The story, based on Keller’s autobiography, displays the relationship between Helen and Anne Sullivan, a women her parents hire as a teacher. It shows the audience what magical occurrences result from perseverance at its highest extent. Sagemont School’s production of The Miracle Worker truly brought immense respect to Helen Keller’s life while entertaining with a strong cast and wise theatrical decisions.

Portraying such a wounded yet beautiful soul, such that Helen Keller had, isn’t something that comes without thought. Erica Merlino, playing Helen Keller, quickly showed her audience she had understood and fulfilled each demand a character like this requires. Merlino was a master of detail. From the simple action of sliding down the stairs rather than walking or having her mouth propped open to show her reliance on the senses that did work, Merlino stopped at nothing to make her portrayal of Helen as realistic as possible. One moan or the placement of her hands was enough to portray the hundreds of words she wished to say.

Acting as the spine of the show, Merlino kept a consistent chemistry with all of her fellow actors. Of course one of the strongest relationships was that between Helen and Anne Sullivan, her teacher. Played by Angel Martinez, Anne’s character asked for the perfect blend of knowing her place as the young girl’s teacher yet still expressing that love that was bound to grow for Helen. Martinez did just that. Growing alongside Helen, Martinez clearly showed Anne’s desire to get through to this wild girl to unlock all that was inside of her. Both women did a great job of carrying the show, and even in their scenes filled only with silence, the electricity between the two was not hard to see.

Following the trend of Helen’s growth, James Keller, her brother, also transformed into a man his father finally respected by the end of the show. Paxton Terris, playing James, skillfully added slight comic relief to the intensity of this show. His character choices were very wise and he went through a full spectrum of emotions that resulted in a truly organic performance.

Although holding smaller parts, Jimmie Sullivan and Percy made their moment on stage quite memorable. In particular, Anne’s deceased younger brother, Jimmie, played by Isaac Ryaboy, brought such immense power through his short yet lingering lines through his appearances in multiple flashbacks.

Dressed in multiple costumes that took the audience back to the early 20th century, the cast of The Miracle Worker created a beautiful sense of trust between each other to cohesively build a great show. Although every show is bound to have its little flops that ultimately make live theatre what it is, this cast didn’t let some lighting mishaps stop them and they put on a truly memorable performance.

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By Ana Hymson of Stoneman Douglas High School

When a young girl loses two of her most vital senses, sight and hearing, at a young age, it may take a miracle for her to have a more normal life. The Sagemont School told the famous story in their production of “The Miracle Worker.”

“The Miracle Worker,” by William Gibson, is the story of Helen Keller, a deafblind child undisciplined by her family, and her new governess, Anne Sullivan, who is determined to teach her not only obedience, but language as well. The play saw its debut in 1959, and won five Tony Awards, including Best Play.

The standout performance of The Sagemont School’s production came from Erica Merlino as Helen Keller. Her grasp on the mannerisms and physicality of the iconic role was unprecedented. Without uttering a single word, Merlino managed to steal the show entirely. She was able to construct clear relationships with those around her through actions alone, an astounding feat that only the most skillful actors tend to accomplish. Alongside her was Angel Martinez as Anne Sullivan, who carried the bulk of the show’s text. Martinez was able to shine a light on both the determination and frustration of her young but wise character with conviction. These two actresses worked together to create the production’s most touching moment- a tear-jerking scene in which all of Anne Sullivan’s hard work to get Helen to attach meaning to words pays off.

Paxton Terris, playing Helen’s half-brother James, was the comic relief in this production. Though he relished in some convincing dramatic moments as well, his comedic timing gave life to the perceptive character.

The student-designed set was beautiful and practical, though the small theater space tended to limit the functionality of the pieces placed in the downstage area. The costumes were student-selected, and each and every one was stunningly beautiful and completely appropriate to the period. The hats worn by some characters could have been done without, as their size and accoutrements would block the faces of the actors from time to time. The props used in the show, however, fit the time period flawlessly in addition to being incredibly realistic.

Some actors failed to orient their delivery in the direction of the audience, which, when combined with a lack of projection in some cases, made for lost lines. But, overall, the Sagemont School’s performance of “The Miracle Worker” was a heartfelt testament to the trials and triumphs of the brave Helen Keller.

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By Miranda Vogt of North Broward Preparatory School

The Sagemont School’s production of “The Miracle Worker” was truly touching. The true story of Helen Keller and her teacher Anne Sullivan was brought to life in an amazing show of commitment and talent that brought tears to eyes and smiles to faces.

Set in Tuscumbia, Alabama at the childhood home of Helen Keller, “The Miracle Worker” tells the story of how Anne Sullivan taught Helen to overcome being deaf and blind and communicate using a hand-signed alphabet. The play first premiered on Broadway in 1959, and critics went on to admire how the already inspiring story of overcoming a disability became something entirely moving and powerful when performed on stage.

This was seen in all its truth in the Sagemont School’s production. From the first line to the last, the actors displayed commitment and determination that carried the play to new heights. All the actors were obviously comfortable acting with each other, and that made the bold choices in blocking and physicality they made truly pay off. The ending scene was beautifully done, and the difficulty of this play only made it that much more amazing to see how wonderfully it was pulled off.

Erica Merlino as Helen Keller put so much effort into every part of her character that from her full body temper-tantrums to simply cutting an apple slice on a plate, her movements and choices were believable and added layers to her character. When her breakthrough finally came, the audience became teary, clearly seeing through Merlino’s facial expressions that she finally understood that the sign for “water” was the name of the liquid running through her hands. Angel Martinez as Anne Sullivan also brought believability and character development to the stage, easily recreating the complex relationship Anne and Helen had.

Paxton Terris as James Keller brought to the stage a vibrant character that, in a play chock full of struggle and hardship, presented a little much-needed comic relief. Paxton and Jordan Bitar as Captain Keller (James’ father) together developed a relationship that, though not completely tied up at the end, was engrossing to watch unfold. Though the accents were sometimes made the lines hard to understand, each of Helen’s family members had wonderful relationships with Helen, despite the fact that she was unable to articulate her feelings with words.

Technical aspects of the show ran relatively smoothly. Lighting choices were not always conducive to seeing facial expressions and some scenes in the garden house felt a little cramped, but the set and costumes were gorgeous. From vases of fresh flowers and wooden furniture to the stunning period dresses, the detailed set and costumes made the play feel even more real. However, as the actors were without microphones, projection was sometimes too soft to catch every phrase.

The Sagemont School’s production of “The Miracle Worker” made every audience member see the fierceness and beauty in the story of Helen Keller and her amazing teacher, sincerely showing the importance of teaching, learning, and language.

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By Nick Lopez of Cypress Bay High School

It’s safe to say that the spectators at The Sagemont School’s latest production were familiar with the story at the center of The Miracle Worker, but the tear-stained applause at the curtain call was a clear indication of an audience humbled by the authentic transformation of a gifted actress into one of the most celebrated figures of the 20th century.

The Miracle Worker by William Gibson is based on Helen Keller’s autobiography and centers around her experiences as an infant in Alabama with Anne Sullivan, the teacher who helped her rise against her limitations as a deaf-blind person by standing up against her spoiled lifestyle and teaching her obedience and language. The original Broadway production starring Anne Bancroft opened in 1959 and was nominated for five Tony Awards, winning four including Best Play.

Erica Merlino carried the show with a riveting performance as Helen Keller. She was fully committed and immersed in the role both physically and emotionally, but sidestepped stereotyping to find tangible humanity in the character. Merlino’s poignant, impaired gaze was filled with nuances and subtlety which captured distinct, organic emotions while retaining the strong physical characteristics of Keller’s disability. Without practically any dialogue but instead relying completely on brilliantly constructed physicality and facials, Merlino built a stunning character arc that drove the production into a truly cathartic finale. Another impressive aspect of Merlino’s performance was her extremely realistic execution of physically violent scenes, which demonstrated extreme comfort and preparation by her and her fellow performers.

Angel Martinez displayed strong stage presence and comfort as Anne Sullivan; her chemistry with Merlino and the confidence with which she approached the character’s journey were key components to the show’s emotional build up. Such chemistry was not always mirrored in other performances, which sometimes seemed forced and unnatural. Paxton Terris brought great energy to the production as James, Helen’s brother, and his ability to both tackle important dramatic moments and lighten the mood with well-executed humor displayed versatility and charisma. Claudia Moncaliano was always a welcomed presence on stage as Viney, the family’s maid, due to refreshing line delivery which displayed clear understanding of her dialogue and character. Unlike other performers, some of whom lacked comfort with their accent and thus had unclear diction, Moncaliano showed full command of her accent and applied it with consistency.

Sagemont’s multilayered student-constructed set, despite sometimes suffering from disorganized lighting, was excellently designed and brought dynamic staging opportunities to what could have been a very traditionally set-up production. It was richly dressed by detailed props, and the period-appropriate costume design nicely contributed to the play’s atmosphere.

It may take a miracle worker to fully encompass the timelessness of Helen Keller’s journey,  but The Sagemont School came frightfully close in their latest production thanks to a profoundly moving central performance that beautifully captured the spirit of resilience in the face of adversity.


Reviews of The Addams Family at South Plantation High School on Sunday 3/8

By Christian Ubillus of Deerfield Beach High School

When the Addams family and the Beineke family meet for the first time, anything but “One Normal Night” is bound to occur! Instead, the perfect blend of sign language, singing, and dancing came to life at South Plantation High School’s production of THE ADDAMS FAMILY!

Creator Charles Addams’s classic tale of the creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky, and altogether ooky Addams family was materialized on stage with a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice and with a score by Andrew Lippa. This musical reinvented the tale by presenting Wednesday Addams as a girl in love with the relatively “normal” Lucas Beineke. However, while breaking the news to their families, hilarious chaos ensues. Nominated for two Tony Awards in 2010, the musical begged the question, “Will their love triumph in the end?”

What was unique about this show was that it incorporated American Sign Language to turn it into Theater for the Deaf. Each actor was tasked with signing their lines, even while singing and moving around and others were tasked with signing for them when they could not. The cast turned the sign language into a dance, making it complement their vocal ability beautifully and seamlessly intertwining it into their character’s persona. This production was not just theater for the deaf, it was music for the eyes!

As we all know, the Addams family is filled with some of the most loveable weirdos in entertainment history. At the head of this production was Gomez Addams (Jesse Castellanos) and Wednesday Addams (Monica Aivazian). Castellanos did what few actors can, he made sure every single line sung, phrase signed, and move danced had purpose. He became the personification of Addams craziness. In turn, Aivazian showered the stage with her singing and signing ability, presenting vocal acrobatics that the audience looked forward to throughout the production.

The Addams matriarch Morticia (Alexandra Moraru) and the Beineke mother, Alice (Kelly Walsh) also dazzled the audience. Moraru shone with her macabre humor and superb dancing ability. Walsh developed her character and filled the stage with her heavenly voice. The comical aspects of the show were also expanded on by Grandma Addams (Shea Rogus) and Pugsley Addams (Adam Ortega). Frequently the show’s scene stealers, these sadistic actors had impressively characterized their voices to make the dark humor of the show even more amusing.

The technical aspects of the show made it more visually pleasing. The set and lighting as well as the student-run costumes, make-up, and props truly set the atmosphere for the show. Meanwhile, the live student orchestra added another layer of emotion to the already well-performed numbers. Some microphone and lighting errors were present, but the audience did not dwell on them and the cast effectively worked around them.

South Plantation took on an ambitious production and hit all the marks. It made us want to get up and be an Addams!

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By Giani Jones of Dillard Center For The Arts

When you’re an Addams, being considered abnormal is an inevitable trait that every member of this family wears fashionably. With that being said, South Plantation’s astounding production of “The Addams Family” triggered an eruption of applause throughout the audience, but what truly enhanced the allurement of this musical was the incorporation of American Sign Language.

“The Addams Family” is based on a ghastly American family with a fixation on darkness. Based on a comic strip by Charles Addams, the musical, created by authors Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice, depicts the original characters’ personas rather than their portrayal through the television series and films. The musical revolves around Wednesday Addams’ secret proposal from Lucas Beineke, a “normal” kid. Wednesday then trusts her father, Gomez, with keeping her dark secret from her judgmental mother, which creates major issues within the family. As Lucas’ “ordinary” parents clash with the odd Addams, Lucas himself struggles to keep his relationship with Wednesday. One “normal” night can either tear a family apart or bring two strange families together.

At first glance, the brilliant set captured the audience’s attention. Every minor detail, from the cracks in the gravestones to the picture frames on the walls, complimented the Addams Family taste. The transitional lighting set the emotional moods between scenes and even built anticipation for the following scene. The creativity of the costumes and make-up added to the fierce nature of the musical, thus, making this quite a virile production.

The talented Monica Aivazian, who played Wednesday Addams, was a powerful singer with a voice to die for, literally. Jesse Castellanos, or rather, the “magnífico” Gomez Addams, stayed loyal to his character with his Hispanic accent and quirky gestures. Alexandra Moraru mirrored Morticia Addams as if she, in a previous life, had lived a life similarly; her impression was impeccable. “One Normal Night,” which included all members of the cast, was a favorite among the enthusiastic audience. Eyes stayed glued on the stage as the ardent characters dispersed their strong energies to the audience. The ingenuity of this musical number brought the essence of the musical to its pinnacle then held the show to its paramount capacity of greatness until the very end.

True talent derives from those who dedicate themselves to their roles; evidently, these characters were devoted. Genuine skill involves connecting to one’s character while both singing melodiously and interpreting through American Sign Language. As an overall musical, it was humorous and lively. Beyond any shadow of doubt, South Plantation’s stunning production of “The Addams Family” was well-constructed. With the inclusion of American Sign Language, so all audience may experience the passion, the musical was definitely extraordinary.

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By Nick Lopez of Cypress Bay High School

Death has never been so lively than at the hands of South Plantation High School, whose spirited take on THE ADDAMS FAMILY brought fresh, inspired twists to a beloved franchise.

Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, and Pugsley have enjoyed lucrative success on Saturday morning cartoons and the silver screen for more than 70 years, but it wasn’t until 2010 that they made their Broadway debut. With music by Andrew Lippa and a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, this musical adaptation of the classic Charles Addams cartoon characters ran for 722 performances. In the show, Wednesday Addams, the only daughter of the titular family, tries to keep her engagement to her charming boyfriend Lucas a secret from her parents, and the ruckus that ensues makes for two hours of twisted comedy and catchy musical numbers.

South Plantation made an ambitious choice of incorporating sign language into their production, but an extremely skilled cast executed the task gracefully. Instead of being distracting, this component was used to its advantage to build character. Each performer had a personalized way of signing, and each did so with astonishing skill.

Jesse Castellanos exuded charisma and owned the stage as Gomez, the flamboyant father of the family. Castellanos was a living cartoon – his remarkable physicality, facials, and sharpened comedic timing brought forward an irresistible, unparalleled energy. Alexandra Moraru nailed the deadpan humor of the Addams Family matriarch, Morticia, while still approaching the role with a confident charisma that built a solid presence in the show. Monica Aivazian gave a driven, rousing performance as Wednesday.  Her magnificent vocal capacities were highlighted in showstoppers such as “Pulled” and “One Normal Night,” which despite their difficulty still featured Aivazian finding new colors in Wednesday’s dark demeanor through her enthusiastic characterization. Shea Rogus was consistently hilarious as Grandma Addams thanks to commitment to an uncannily accurate vocal tone and an impressive physicality which completely transformed the actress into her character.

THE ADDAMS FAMILY was a mesmerizing visual spectacle and exceptional technical achievement. The multilayered set was stunning to behold and was seamlessly handled by the stage crew, while the rich costume design was abundant in detail and added atmospheric allure to the production. Fluid choreography was performed cleanly by an impressive ensemble of ghosts, whose vocals throughout the show highly impressed thanks to strong command of harmonies.

An uncannily talented and passionate cast provided a night at the theatre which was truly to die for in South Plantation’s take on THE ADDAMS FAMILY. A toast, two snaps, and a round of applause for its thoroughly entertaining production!

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By Julissa Orozco of Cooper City High School

South Plantation High School’s production of “The Addams Family” was anything but a normal night, and tells the story of what happens when the darkest family in New York meet the sophisticated folks from Ohio.

“The Addams Family,” which was first performed in 2009, was based on characters created by Charles Addams, and book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. The music and lyrics from the dark musical was written by Andrew Lippa. The story surrounds a family who live in the middle of central park, and their encounter with a group of people who are not so normal according to the Addams. Wednesday Addams is getting married to a sweet boy, Lucas Beineke, who does not fit the ideals of her mother; therefore, she begs her father promise not to tell her mother Morticia about the engagement.

The actors, and ensemble in “The Addams Family” had not only sung and danced, but they mastered the skill of doing sign language throughout the entirety of the production. All of the lead roles displayed strong characterization and humorous moments throughout the show. The choreography in the show was outstanding, especially during the “Tango De Amor.” As a whole, the cast of “The Addams Family” performed on a professional level that was not expected in a high school production.

Jesse Castellanos who portrayed Gomez Addams put on a hilarious performance as the silly Spanish father, who was torn between his wife and daughter. Morticia Addams (Alexandra Moraru) truly showed her dark side in the show, and she never fell out of character while acting, singing, dancing, and signing. Monica Aivazian starred as the seriously in love Wednesday Addams. Aivazian had outstanding vocals  throughout every single one of her performances on stage, and stood out during “Crazier Than You,” along her partner Lucas Beineke (Jermacus Riggins) who put on a show stopping dance for his love interest.

The supporting cast brought comic to the show especially from the remainder of the Addams Family.The ensemble “Ancestors,” made the atmosphere even more deadly with their pale faces and dance numbers. With Pugsley’s (Adam Ortega) need for attention from his sister,Uncle Fester’s (Tyler Cole) affection for the moon, Grandma’s (Shea Rogus) performance during “What If,” and of course Lurch (Daniel Garcia) who took his time, the bizarre family was extremely amusing. Alice Beineke played by Kelly Walsh was the rhyming mother of Lucas, and vocals were notable during “Waiting.”

Sound and lighting was impressive and never once hitched or cut out. As for the set and costumes, the hard work from the cast and crew was clearly displayed on stage and accurately depicted the characters and their surroundings. The makeup on the cast clearly portrayed whether someone was the living dead or 102 years old; overall, the technical aspect of “The Addams Family” were commendable.

As a full disclosure, South Plantation High School put on a remarkable performance of “The Addams Family,” and honestly, the performance of the show was professional and well executed.

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By Tristan Hutchison of Cardinal Gibbons

Spooks, Frights, and “One Normal Night”. Sounds like the ingredients to a classic in the making, right? Well, you’re close! It’s South Plantation High School’s production of the off-beat musical, “The Addams Family.”

“The Addams Family” originally opened on Broadway in April of 2010, with Music and Lyrics by Andrew Lippa and Book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. After 722 performances, the show closed on Broadway in December of 2011. Since then, “The Addams Family” has become a National Tour hit. The show follows the story of little Wednesday Addams, except she’s not so little anymore, in fact she wants to get married to a boy from a normal family! Wednesday decides to have her future in-laws, the Beinekes, over for dinner. There’s just one problem, Wednesday is afraid her crazy, black wearing, demented family will ruin everything. Wednesday  makes her family promise to act “normal” just for one night, and pleads with her parents, Morticia and Gomez Addams, not to meddle or pry into her business. Shortly after the Beinekes arrive however, wackiness ensues, leaving for an unforgettable night of singing, dancing, and secrets being spilled!

This production showed off a variety of talent from its young cast. Some stand out performances include, Monica Aivazians’ portrayal of Wednesday Addams. Aivazian was a delight to watch on stage, especially during the song “Pulled.” Aivazians’ facial expressions were perfect for her character Wednesday. Another wonderful performance in this show was that of Jesse Castellanos, who played Gomez Addams. Castellanos was hilarious on stage. Everyone of his movements seemed like a cartoon character, big and over the top, which is how the character of Gomez should be. Castellanos was so into the character that he never lost his Hispanic accent, even while singing. The final performance that really stood out was Morticia Addams, played by Alexandra Moraru. Morarus’ performance of creepy yet sexy Morticia was spot on. Moraru really shined during her song “Just Around the Corner” where she not only sang but also did a choirs line with the grim reaper himself!

The cast as a whole did an excellent job. From the ensemble to the principle characters, everyone seemed to know what his/her job was. A very big highlight of this show was the eighteen piece orchestra that played all the music live onstage. The orchestra were so talented, that it sounded as though it was the original recording playing instead of a live band. Another interesting detail about this particular show was use of sign language. South Plantation High School is the only public school in the county that offers programming for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. Therefore, the actors signed and acted at the same time throughout the show.

South Plantation’s production of “The Addams Family” was a wonderful experience. Through songs, dance, and sign language, the actors showed us “what it is to be an Addams!”


Reviews of The Drowsy Chaperone at Boca Raton Community High School on Saturday, 2/28

By Maya Quinones of Deerfield Beach High School

Mix-ups, mayhem, and a gay wedding. No, it’s not what you think. Wedding bells were ringing during Boca Raton Community High School’s production of “The Drowsy Chaperone”, and they rang loud and clear.

A fairly recent musical, “The Drowsy Chaperone” appeared on the Broadway stage in 2006, and won an impressive five Tony Awards. With music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, “The Drowsy Chaperone” has delighted musical theater lovers with its spoofs of classic 1920’s Broadway shows. Complete with non-threatening gangsters, a desperate Broadway impresario, an ethic lover, a talented female ingénue, and many other stock characters, the show is famous for poking fun at productions of the past.

Brendan Feingold plays Man in Chair, the Broadway obsessed narrator who plays his favorite musical soundtrack for the audience. As the soundtrack plays, the musical is brought to life on stage. Feingold had effortless humor in his role, and remained completely in character while watching his favorite show performed in his own apartment. Feingold executed an impressive character shift that allowed the audience to emphasize with his excited yet melancholy role. Valeria Castano plays Janet Van De Graff, a multi-talented woman engaged to Robert Martin, and equally talented oil tycoon. Castano was a true triple threat, with impressive vocal, acting, and dancing skills. In her stage stealing number “Show Off,” she showed her versatility by performing multiple stunts and feats. Trevor Wayne as Robert Martin had impeccable dance, vocal, and even roller skating skills, showcased in his delightful numbers “Cold Feets” and “Accident Waiting to Happen.”

Every actor committed to their stereotypical character throughout the performance. With his big hair and even bigger accent, Alejandro Esteves plays the role of Latin lover Adolpho. In his narcissistic number “Adolpho,” his impressive vocals succeeded in making his character extremely memorable. Channing Ramsey as the title character was also extraordinary. Alcohol in hand, Ramsey’s comedic timing and vocal talents resonated with audience members. At some points, the music overpowered the actors, making the lyrics somewhat difficult to understand. Despite this, the live orchestra never missed a beat, nor did the actors.

The set was full of musical theater eye candy, with dozens of playbills, posters, and memorabilia from Broadway shows adorning the walls. Set changes were swift, and the lighting varied from intense reds to evening blues. Large, full scale set pieces left the thought “Did they really just pull that off?” in the minds of the audience. From confetti guns to flare guns, props and special effects of the production never failed to thrill.

“The Drowsy Chaperone” is a sentimental, hilarious production for anybody who has plastered a Wicked poster on their walls or cried during an overture. It celebrates musical theater, while simultaneously making fun of the various quirks and clichés the genre has rightfully accumulated over the years. Boca Raton Community High School succeeded in bring this “musical within a comedy” to life, and cementing the love of the theater in the hearts of every Broadway fan.

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By Taylor Barth of JP Taravella HS

A modern day man drops the needle on his favorite vinyl creating magic on the Boca Community High School stage, making “The Drowsy Chaperone” a must see!

“The Drowsy Chaperone” with music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, and book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar, tells the story of the Man in chair who plays the record of his favorite musical and narrates the show as the recording ensues. This revved up parody of the 1920’s is full of laughter, over the top characters, and entertaining song and dance numbers.

Overall, the ensemble was very energetic and sang harmonies beautifully throughout the show. The principle roles and the ensemble had great chemistry and worked together very well to pull off challenging numbers such as, “Toledo Surprise.”

Brendan Feingold, who gave a dynamic and comical performance as the bubbly Man in Chair, was simply delightful. Narrating the entire show, Feingold was very natural and simplistic, while also delivering comedic quips with finesse. Not only did Feingold portray an old man commendably, he also gave a three dimensional performance, showcasing a sentimental side when speaking of the importance of “The Drowsy Chaperone” to the musical loving man. Valeria Castano depicted the vivacious Janet Van De Graff, with stunning vocal talent and quirky characterization. Castano was exceptionally noteworthy in her song, “Show Off,” with every flawless dance move and gorgeous high note.

The Drowsy Chaperone played by Channing Ramsey gave a phenomenal performance, delivering lines with impeccable diction and singing songs such as “As We Stumble Along,” with a crisp and mature voice. Proving to be a triple threat, Trevor Wayne, played Janet’s adoring fiancée, Robert Martin with hilarious characterization, remarkable vocal range, and impressive tap dancing. Mika Moore commanded the stage as Trix flying in on a massive plane and taking advantage of her limited stage time with her huge mannerisms and vibrant smile.

Technically, the show ran very smoothly with minor flaws. Props by Lorein Mones and company were incredibly well executed, capturing every detail down to the abundance of show posters on the walls, to the fully stocked refrigerator. Lighting by Paige Munguia and company was aesthetically pleasing as a whole but was overwhelmingly bright at times.

Boca Community High School’s riveting production of “The Drowsy Chaperone” was brilliant with extravagant choreography, great visuals, and strong vocal power among all.

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By Alejandra Duque of Cypress Bay High School

Prohibition? An uncertain wedding? Gangsters disguised as pastry chefs? And… Monkeys on pedestals?! Boca Raton Community High School’s production of THE DROWSY CHAPERONE is the cats pajamas!

THE DROWSY CHAPERONE, which opened on Broadway in 2006 and won 5 Tony awards for it performance, is a musical comedy parodying American musicals in the 1920’s. Taking place in the apartment of a middle aged man, this ultimate musical theatre fan (referred to as Man in Chair), guides us through his favorite musical, THE DROWSY CHAPERONE. As his record of the score plays on, the magic of the animated characters, extravagant dance numbers, and ambiance of the 1920’s come to life in his small apartment!

Leading the show as the Man in Chair was Brendan Feingold. Feingold’s performance in this role was not an easy one. Being on stage for almost the entirety of the show, he rarely got a break, yet, even in the smallest moments, he never lost connection with his character. Feingold made it easy to forget that he was a high school student. The diversity of Feingolds acting abilities should also be noted. He excelled not only in his comedic timing and making the audience laugh with his commentary, but also in setting a more serious mood and tugging at the audiences heart strings as he made us believe and feel for his character’s story.

Playing the role of groom Robert Martin in the fictional musical was Trevor Wayne. All aspects of Wayne’s performance proved to be top notch. Both his singing and acting was skilled, and his dancing, including several lavish tap numbers, proved to be superb. Portraying the title character of drunk diva, the Drowsy Chaperone, was Channing Ramsey. Never stumbling along in her performance, Ramsey delivered a clean, elegant, and hilarious presentation of her character.

The entire cast of THE DROWSY CHAPERONE was beautifully talented and worked extremely well together. In group numbers, the ensemble was always moving together and not one person was off. The cast worked with and off of each other impeccably well. Alec Taylor and Karlo Buxo, who played Gangsters 1 and 2 are perfect examples of this. Speaking mostly in pastry puns and acting in synchronized movements, it seemed as if these two boys were one. Their hysterical performance was in sync from start to finish.

Technically, the show was very nicely done as well. The attention to detail put into the technical aspects was astounding. The apartment set was decorated immaculately with musical posters, pictures of famous actresses, and everything else that one would think the Man in Chair would enjoy. Not a single prop went unaccounted for and the makeup for the whole cast was done appropriately. The old age makeup was especially impressive. Although at times, some lines were lost due to sound issues, it was not a detrimental problem.

This cast of THE DROWSY CHAPERONE should be especially proud of their work and performance of this show, it was truly one to show off!

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By Melissa Kean of Piper High School

Misplaced records, cunning references, roller-skates, and spit-takes were all pieces of Boca Raton Community High School’s production of “The Drowsy Chaperone”, leaving the audience feeling anything but drowsy.

This musical-within-a-play tells the tale of a man and his love for musicals, and once he puts on his record of the fictional musical, The Drowsy Chaperone, we are brought back to the 1920’s. From then on, we are being told the tale of young Broadway star Janet Van De Graff who falls in love with a man named Robert Martin and must give up everything to be with him. A series of troublesome events leads up to a big wedding. While the musical plays out, The Man in Chair narrates what’s happening to the audience in front of him. “The Drowsy Chaperone” won 5 Tony Awards in total and tells a story not quite like most. The book was written by Bob Martin and Don McKellar, while the music and lyrics were written by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison.

Boca Raton Community High School’s production was lively and fascinating. Each joke was perfectly executed, leaving audience members throwing their heads back in fits of laughter. It seems as if the entire cast consisted of triple-threats, leaving anybody and everybody in awe from their performances.

Brenden Feingold, who played the adorable, mirthful Man in Chair, charms the audience with his likeable and relatable personality. Janet Van De Graff, played by Valeria Castano took audiences away and literally showed off her talents in the song “Show-Off”. Janet’s love interest, Robert Martin, played by Trevor Wayne, was charming and left the audience on the edge of their seats as he breezed across the stage on roller-skates – blindfolded! The Drowsy Chaperone, a drunk, dazzling woman, portrayed by Channing Ramsey, enthralled the audience with her humor and her amazing vocal performance during the song “As We Stumble Along”.

Other actors worth noting include Alejandro Esteves, who plays a Latin lover named Aldolpho, a name that will be stuck in your mind for weeks to come. Hayley Adams, who plays a over-dramatic, yet dedicated, mind-reader/actress named Kitty. Maxine Yeakle, who plays Mrs. Tottendale, perfectly achieved the spit-take several times. And last but certainly not least, Mika Moore, playing the brave and energetic Trix with admirable vocal performance and a pleasant personality. The ensemble was flourishing throughout the entire show, not one member noticeably missing a beat.

The technical elements, such as sets, make-up, costumes and lighting all helped make the production come together in such a captivating manner, leaving you wanting more from the moment the curtains close. There was a live orchestra that played in perfect timing with the singer’s; it seems as if the synchronization came naturally throughout the whole performance.

This beautiful show features a series of vibrant characters, eloquent tap numbers, beautiful sets, and engaging humor that will leave you both laughing and crying at the same time. And that’s exactly what Boca Raton Community High School did.

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By Christian Ubillus of Deerfield Beach High School

“Mix-ups, mayhem, and a gay wedding!” The perfect recipe for an entertaining musical! Mix in some jaw-dropping tap numbers, a professional orchestra, and a heartfelt story and you have Boca Raton Community High School’s production of “The Drowsy Chaperone.”

“The Drowsy Chaperone”, with a score by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison and a book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar, tells the story of the Man in Chair, a nameless character stricken by an inexplicable sadness. To escape his sadness, he begins to play the record of his favorite musical, the titular The Drowsy Chaperone! He begins to narrate the story and the audience is transported to a world filled with loveable characters, such as the lovely Janet, the dashing Robert, and the ditzy Kitty. The musical both parodied and gave homage to the big and jazzy musicals of the 1920s and was the proud recipient of five Tony’s in 2006.

In order to put on this musical, it was crucial for the Man in Chair to be epitomized on stage. To say that Brendan Feingold did a commendable job is an understatement. His presentation was relatable, comedic, earnest, and perfectly executed. He not only managed to move the story forward, he also moved the audience to experience the story the way he did, a feat that only a professional actor can accomplish.

Headlining the musical within the comedy was the beautiful bride-to-be Janet Van De Graff (Valeria Castano). We saw her command of the stage as a triple-threat in the ode to herself, “Show Off.” The groom-to-be Robert Martin (Trevor Wayne) dazzled spectators with his goofy charisma and his tapping feet, comically stepping into the role of the dashing and somewhat dim leading man. Also, embracing the somewhat inebriated demeanor of the Drowsy Chaperone herself (Channing Ramsey), Ramsey filled the stage with her powerhouse acting and singing, whilst filling her character with multiple dimensions.

If you think it was only the principal characters who led the show though, you are sorely mistaken. Both the gangster ensemble and the wedding party ensemble proved hilarious to watch. Their synchronization with each other and exquisite vocal and dancing talent helped capture the atmosphere of the show in its entirety while providing a high energy performance.

The technical aspects of the show took this spectacle to the very next level. Costumes reflected the personalities of each character, lighting contributed to the overall feel of the story, and the flawlessly handled special effects within the “Show Off” number made it a visual exploit. The only hindrances in this category were the occasional microphone problems that made some words slightly difficult to hear, but it was a miniscule disturbance.

Ironically, though the Man in Chair was supposed to be the one escaping his sadness within this musical, we found ourselves forgetting about our lives and escaping with him to Boca High’s “The Drowsy Chaperone.”


Reviews of Twelfth Night at Stoneman Douglas High School on Friday, 2/22

By Nick Lopez of Cypress Bay High School

Stoneman Douglas pitched up a circus tent for their Twelfth Night celebration  in an ambitious re-imagining of this Shakespeare classic. It was quite the unprecedented visual treat for an audience anxious for monologues and soliloquies, but more conservative Shakespeare aficionados can rest assured that neither flying acrobats nor clownish antics upstaged the charming wit of the beloved source material.

Written by William Shakespeare around 1601 but published in 1623 as part of the First Folio, this comedy was written to celebrate the Twelfth Night holiday (the twelfth night after Christmas.) Fully titled Twelfth Night or What You Will, follows the story of Viola, a young woman separated from her brother in a shipwreck. To get a job with the regional Duke, Viola dresses up like a man – what ensues is a hysterical hodge-podge of gender-bending, deception, and next-level love triangles that make the melodramatic puppy-love mishaps of the Twilight saga seem like child’s play.

As if handling a Shakespeare play wasn’t enough of a challenge, student director Melissa Mauer chose to infuse a circus theme into the production. The subsequent byproduct of this boldly imaginative choice stands as a testament to the value of the fearless brand of commitment and creativity that made this production so unique and entertaining. Not only did this risky endeavor open up the play for broader appeal amongst amateurs to the Shakespeare anthology, but the huge extent and impressive execution of the circus concept make Mauer worthy of a lavish round of applause.

The grandeur of the idea was beautifully conveyed in the vivid, picturesque set which was clad in towering silk fabrics and rich color pallets and which was expediently handled by the stage crew.  The costume design featured an extravagant and colorful variety of detail and cartoonish playfulness, and lighting and sound design were extremely clean and well managed. Perhaps the most impressive facet of the show’s visual allure was the striking difficulty and sleek execution of acrobatic choreography.

Twelfth Night’s cast approached their roles with palpable enthusiasm, and such spirit prevented them from being swallowed up by the difficulty of the material.  For example, there was a collective command of physical comedy that gave for consistently entertaining gags – most of these involved a troupe of clowns who’s fantastic facials and physicality made slapstick interludes hilarious and memorable.

Ana Hymson gave an organic, nuanced performance Olivia, the Countess that falls in love with Viola’s male persona. Between earnest facial expressions and an impressive accent, she demonstrated the clearest understanding of her character and her dialogue. Brendan Duff and Jonathan Baron, who played Orsino and Malvolio respectively, were the driving forces of the show’s comedy. Sharp line delivery, excellent comedic timing, and strong stage presence made these performers audience favorites.

What’s next for Stoneman Douglas? Hamlet on a cruise? Romeo and Juliette in space? Who knows! But if one thing is for certain, it’s that an impressed audience is sure to return for whatever Stoneman Douglas chooses to do next after watching the  splendid creative and technical achievement that was Twelfth Night.

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By Juliette Johnson of Deerfield Beach High School

Where can you find a mélange of a Shakespearean classic, aerial silk acrobatics, and slapstick comedy? Nowhere else but Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ performance of “Twelfth Night”! Creating a new take on an old show, Douglas’ production blends everything you love about the circus with the fun and comedic aspects of Shakespeare’s show.

Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” is a play is about twins Viola and Sebastian who were separated by a shipwreck. They both arrive in Illyria without knowing that the other is still alive, ensuing chaos in the city. Viola disguises herself as a man, calling herself Cesario, and somehow earns the love of Olivia, whose father and brother have recently passed away. However, Viola’s twin Sebastian has found a love for Olivia, while Viola falls in love with Duke Orsino.  As Viola becomes entangled in her lies and her secret identity, at the end of the show, the truth unfolds and everything works itself out.

Director Melissa Mauer’s re-envisioning of “Twelfth Night” to fit it to a circus theme not only made the show unique, but also added to the comedy of Shakespeare’s jokes and puns, and overall made a spectacle for the audience.
Olivia, played by Ana Hymson, showed great dedication to her role. It was apparent that she spent great time in memorizing and understanding her lines, as the often tricky and confusing Shakespearean language was delivered with ease.

Viola (Brianna Bopp) effectively played her role as a woman pretending to be a man.  Although she was ironically short and had a high pitched voice, her mannerisms still reflected that of a man, which at times made her character very convincing.

Malvolio, played by Jonathan Baron, spoke his lines seamlessly and with a confidence that matched that of Malvolio’s character.  As the comic relief, he was sincerely hilarious and had such great energy that added to the enjoyment of the production.

The dancers and acrobats, led by choreographers led by Danielle Jensen and Theresa Prayther, did incredible tricks and stunts throughout the show, but did not take away from the actors while they were performing. The scene changes with the clowns and the slapstick bits were fun to watch and showed adherence to the theme.  Set changes were prompt without any noticeable flaws and sound and lighting were appropriate for the show.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas took on a great challenge in putting on a Shakespeare play, and they went above and beyond to make it an enjoyable experience for everyone in the audience.

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By Oliver Shore of North Broward Preparatory School

The lights shone down on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s stage, sweet music filled its theater, and jugglers and fat ladies entertained its audience members. While it was not the typical Shakespeare show, Stoneman Douglas’s circus themed ‘Twelfth Night’ was no doubt a new and refreshing take on one of Shakespeare’s comedies.

Shakespeare wrote the comedic ‘Twelfth Night’ in the early 17th century.  The show follows Viola as she washes up on the Illyrian coast after being shipwrecked and separated from her brother.  Alone in a foreign land, she dresses up as a man to obtain work in Duke Orsino’s court. Hilarity ensues from there as Viola manages to get caught up in a love triangle, in a case of mistaken identities.

Brendan Duff, Duke Orsino, opens the show with a passionate appeal for the music to ‘play on.’ His passion and energy remained high throughout the show as he captivated audiences with his booming voice and devotion to love. Ana Hymson made it clear why Duke Orsino was so infatuated with her character, Olivia. Hymson’s clear diction, regal actions, and acute understanding of text, made her a pleasure to watch. Brianna Bopp preformed the role of Viola. Bopp did well, as she undertook the difficult task of acting as both Viola and her male disguise Cesario.

Being one of Shakespeare’s comedies, this production of ‘Twelfth Night’ certainly brought laughs. Jonathan Baron as the disgruntled Malvolio, proved himself to be an accomplished actor with a keen sense of comedic timing. Baron’s stage presence and animated demeanor made him focal point of the production and an antagonist we loved to hate. Similarly, Feste the jester, played by Dylan Baierlein, lit up scenes with his witty humor and thoughtful advice.

The Circus ensemble provided even more humor to the already strong comedy. The physical humor and wild shenanigans served to quicken transitions and show off the talent of the ensemble.  The Fat Lady, played by Ariel Baron was a standout, and Sir Toby Belch and Maria, played by Liam Eagan and Kelsey Healey, respectively, had brilliant comical and romantic relationship.

Student Director Melissa Mauer showed her abilities as both a director and leader in the production of this amusing play. The lights, sound, and make-up were well executed, and served to produce an engaging show. The costumes, though not always period, were well worn and helped create the illusion of a circus.

With their bold choice of placing Shakespeare in a circus, the cast and crew of ‘Twelfth Night’ put on a nice comedy that delivered both touching themes and feted laughter.

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By Melody Zapata of Western High

Aerialists on silks, clowns playing pranks, and ax throwers pieing faces? Sounds more like a wild circus act than a Shakespearean comedy? Welcome to the world of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s “Twelfth Night.”

Written by William Shakespeare around 1602, this classic play focuses on a love triangle between Duke Orsino of Illyria, wealthy Countess Olivia, and Viola, a young lady who disguises herself as a man named Cesario. And just to add to the complication of love triangles, Viola’s thought-to-be-deceased twin brother Sebastian appears on the scene, adding confusion of mistaken identity.

However, Stoneman Douglas went above and beyond. Lead by Student Director Melissa Mauer, this production of Twelfth Night was reimagined in the context of a traveling circus, complete with clowns, tents, dancers, and ringmasters to completely capture the slapstick comedy and lively wordplay of Shakespeare.

Liam Eagan, who played the part of Sir Toby Belch, excelled in his role as a drunk. Every tip of the flask and slurred word was in tune to the comedic timing of the scene and made his performance a memorable one. His calculated physicality and facial expressions were truly highlighted when a swordfight ensues and he defends himself while inebriated.

The technical aspects of the show were fundamental to the success of this production. From the costumes, makeup, and lighting design to the stage managing, properties management, soundboard operating, and choreography, the hard work and dedication allotted to this student orchestrated show is incredibly admirable.

In regards to the student direction (Melissa Mauer) and choreography (Danielle Jensen and Theresa Prayther), it was pleasant to see the careful staging of this show. The central actors were not upstaged in spite of the various ensemble members playing busy circus performers and the dancing in several musical interludes added to the lighthearted atmosphere of the circus. The properties design (Emma Popkin) and makeup design (Michaela Bajic) was visually appealing. The props were appropriate to each scene and character, while the makeup enhanced the circus performers’ part in the production whether they were a clown, jester, or aerialist.

Overall, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s cast of Twelfth Night did well with a piece that is very difficult to understand and perform due to its difficult Elizabethan era language. Transforming a classic Shakespearean play to a more contemporary setting while not changing a single word of the original script is a challenging task, but the success of their production showcased this cast’s work ethic and ambition.

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By Kelsey Malanowski of North Broward Preparatory School

Women dressed as men, love triangles, and aerialists- this, and much more, were found in Stoneman Douglas High School’s dynamic and ambitious performance of “Twelfth Night”.

Written at the turn of the 17th century, “Twelfth Night” is a comedic play written by the one and only William Shakespeare. Twelfth Night is about illusion, deception, disguises, madness, and the extraordinary things that love will cause us to do and see.  The play centers on the twins Viola and Sebastian, who are separated in a shipwreck. It then follows Viola who, dressed as a man, ends up in a love triangle with the Duke Orsino and Countess Olivia. In this particular rendition of “Twelfth Night”, the antics of the characters are heightened by setting the play in a circus.

Leads Viola and Orsino, played by Brianna Bopp and Brendan Duff, were undaunted by the large amounts of Shakespearean dialogue that they had to deliver, and never faltered. They had great stage presence and took command of the stage. Likewise, Ana Hymson portrayed her character, Countess Olivia, with excellent grace and poise, making her a joy to watch.

Also, as comedy is a huge part in this play, Liam Eagan as Sir Toby Belch played an excellent drunk, and his peerless ability to bring both physical and vocal comedic aspects to “Twelfth Night” was very important.  His partner and crime Maria, played by Kelsey Healey, captured the larger than life personality of her character very well, and her scenes with Toby were always fun to watch.

The performers who made up the ensemble did a wonderful job of staying committed throughout the entire show and in keeping the performance exciting and interesting. Specifically Bradley Thornton excelled in bringing his character Antonio to life in a subtle yet effective way, showing clear mastery of the Shakespearean language.

Technically, the show was superbly executed. The lighting and sound were especially great and enhanced the actors’ already delightful performance. The props and set were also very impressive and the fun, colorful circus look added to the enjoyability of the show.

Overall, the hard work and dedication shown by the entire cast and crew was evident, resulting in a well-run, entertaining performance from the students of Stoneman Douglas High School in “Twelfth Night”.

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Reviews of West Broward High School’s production of Legally Blonde on Feb.19

By Kelly Walsh of South Plantation High School

Although your neighborhood pink-loving sorority princess isn’t always viewed as the “serious” one, West Broward High makes it clear that there’s more to books than just their covers in their production of “Legally Blonde.”

From the famous novel, Elle Woods’ journey through Harvard has been adapted for the screen and the stage. Elle is not only a glorified fashionista, but is also the president of Delta Nu, a sorority house. Warner Huntington III, needing someone with more structure, breaks up with Elle. Being so love-struck, she decides to follow him to Harvard Law School, where she discovers that not only can she win a murder trial with her new-found passion for law, but can also find sincere love within the confidence of being herself.

Bringing that peppy presence to the stage is Kimberley Lucas, who showed off her vocal ability strongly in “So Much Better.” The polar opposite of Elle, Emmett Forrest, was played by Kyle Christensen, who brought the perfect amount of “lovable dork” into his character. Even though the chemistry and connection between actors could’ve been more believable, the evolution of their characters is definitely something to be noted.

Colin Miller, in the role of Professor Callahan, did an exceptional job portraying the mature nature of his character. Misha Chavez, portraying Warner Huntington III, seemed well cast in the role because of his serious, but dimwitted fitting character choices. While some actors needed to increase the focus in the scene on stage, the cast for the supporting roles seemed to fit very well.

The ensemble put on a fantastic high-energy performance in “Whipped into Shape,” while maintaining strong choreography and vocals. In some numbers, like “What You Want,” timing for the choreography could’ve been more together. In others, the energy was at a level high enough to make the scene more captivating.

The accents added to the show by lighting, like the Irish flag during “Ireland,” gave an interesting visual to the show. Although some cues seemed to be late, the pink accents provided the tone for the scenes and the different colors set the mood.

Beneath that pink couture, Elle has proved to everyone that she is capable of anything, no matter what the task, as long she trusts herself and appreciates who she is. West Broward High should be proud of the Delta Nu attitude that they flaunted, showing off the passion for fellowship and confidence.

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By Juliette Romeus of Stoneman Douglas High School

Storming into Harvard with cheerleaders instead of a personal essay? An imaginary Greek Chorus? And even Irish dancing? Omigod you guys! West Broward High School’s production of Legally Blonde the Musical follows the personal journey of everyone’s favorite blonde as she takes the law world by storm.

Based off the novel by Amanda Brown and the 2001 film of the same name, Legally Blonde opened up on Broadway in April 2007. With Music and Lyrics by Neil Benjamin and Laurence O’Keefe and Book by Heather Hach, the upbeat musical received several Tony Award and Drama Desk nominations. The story follows Elle Woods, the sorority Delta Nu President at UCLA. After being dumped by her boyfriend for not being ‘serious’, she follows him to Harvard Law to try and rekindle their romance. With some help from new friends, Elle realizes that she is more than just her blonde hair and someone’s pretty girlfriend: she can truly become a lawyer and help those in need.

The title role of Elle Woods was played by Kimberley Lucas. Lucas kept her character’s high-demanding energy throughout the duration of the show. It was clear she understood her character, as her jokes and attitudes came naturally. Alongside Lucas was Kyle Christensen, portraying the role of the hopeful associate, Emmett Forrest. Christensen accurately played the role of the cliche nerd, naturally using characterization choices such as shy glances and nervous fidgeting. Although together, their characters’ relationship initially lacked a developing relationship, they smoothly recovered in Act Two. Their duet, “Legally Blonde”, displayed their strong connection and their character’s love for each other.

Supporting Lucas and Christensen were Kira Rivera and Colin Miller, respectively playing the roles of Paulette Bonafonte and Professor Callahan. Rivera had a charming stage presence as the hopeful hairdresser, and her spunky character especially shined in her number, “Bend and Snap”. Miller played the role of the strict law professor. His physicality, along with his strong vocals, allowed him to confidently carry out Callahan’s role with strong acting.

The ensemble was an immense part of this production, participating in almost every song. Although some members of the ensemble were lacking in character, as a whole they had great energy while they danced and sang. The Delta Nu trio of Serena, Margot, and Pilar positively stood out and maintained their energetic personalities throughout the duration of the show. Featured roles such as Kyle the UPS Guy and Brooke Wyndham gave a memorable and impressive performances, even with their limited stage time.

Technically, the production’s sound had some microphone issues with some characters. However, they did not persist and the performers actively tried to project more to cover up for their microphones as well. Other aspects, such as lighting and costumes, all proceeded more smoothly in Act Two.

West Broward’s production of Legally Blonde reminds us all to not judge a book by it’s cover- there is more to a person than meets than eye, so give them a chance- you never know what you’ll find!

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By Matthew Gavan of Pope John Paul II High School

Blood runs pink in West Broward High School’s production of Legally Blonde. When the curtains open, the audience is immersed in bustling dance numbers, heart wrenching duets, and an extremely sensual delivery man.

The story of Legally Blonde is based on a novel written by Amanda Brown, which also had a film adaptation in 2001. The show takes you on the journey of Elle Woods, the Delta Nu sorority president, who travels to Harvard after her boyfriend Warner dumped her. After arriving at Harvard, murder, romance, and a Greek chorus ensue.

Elle Woods, who was played by Kimberley Lucas, showed great vocal range and energy in all of her numbers while also giving her own unique touch to the character. Although she lacked in some acting aspects, Kimberley had a visible connection with her character and other characters.

Kyle Christensen, who played Emmett Forrest, did a great job in the acting aspect of his character. While managing to be a comedic character of sorts, Kyle also succeeded in transitioning his character to fit the deeper parts of the show and even managed to succeed in the vocal parts of the show.

The audience received quite the package when Kyle Valencia, who played Kyle the UPS guy and Carlos, arrived. Even with a little amount of stage time, Kyle’s physicality left the audience laughing. Kyle even managed to incorporate his comedic character into an Irish dance number during “Legally Blonde Remix.”

The ensemble showed great coordination throughout the show. Songs such as “So Much Better” truly revealed the ensembles ability to harmonize and dance.  A lack of energy shown by blank faces throughout the ensemble was rectified by the synchronization during dance numbers.

The sound crew, run by Ryan Doherty, Matthew Roza, and Kelsey Ramon, appeared to be having microphone issues during the first act, but these issues were eventually resolved. Lights, run by Eric Dietz, Ariel Fethiere, and Gabe Camargo, were well done. Despite the delayed spotlights, the light design was very well done and there appeared to be no serious issues.

Stage crew, run by Amy Coisnard and Alyssa Kobb, did a nice job at scene changes during running scenes. While the transition took time, the stage crew was not distracting and silent during the transitions.

With genuine characters, a generally energetic ensemble, and small amount of technical errors, West Broward High School’s Legally Blonde presented an upbeat show about defying the norms.

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By Daniel Agmon of JP Taravella HS

What happens when a naïve blonde valley girl, an imaginary Greek chorus and an endearing miniature dog, attend prestigious Harvard Law School?  West Broward’s “Omigod” production of “Legally Blonde” will surely tell you!

“Legally Blonde”, based off the 2001 movie of the same name and with music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin and a book by Heather Hatch, was originally produced on Broadway in 2007 and nominated for seven Tony awards. The story revolves around Elle Woods, the blonde queen of the sorority Delta NU, who becomes heart broken when her boyfriend, Warner, breaks up with her for a more serious, more studious girl.  Elle, however, persists in following him, by getting accepted to Harvard Law School herself, where she realizes even the most challenging obstacles can’t stop her – even if she is blonde.

Kimberley Lucas starred as the fashionable Elle Woods in an admirable performance. Her vocals were noteworthy, especially in the song “Legally Blonde.”  She overcame the adversity of numerous quick costume changes, accomplishing the task without one mistake or late cue. Her chemistry with the love interest, the nerdy Emmet Forrest played by Kyle Christensen, was delightful and captivating.

Colin Miller portrayed the character of Professor Callahan exceptionally well with his realistic acting choices, making him seem older than the rest of the cast. His vocals were impressive, notably in “Blood in the Water.” Kyle Valencia mastered the role of Kyle the UPS Guy with his outstanding comedic timing and dazzling high-spirited dance skills. His energetic acting and suave delivery of lines contributed to the show immensely.

As a whole the ensemble lacked some accuracy in their harmonies, but this was more than compensated for by their high energy and enthusiastic dance moves. The projection of the cast could have been improved, but the diction was clear and the dialogue was understandable.

Sound was done by Ryan Doherty, Matthew Roza, Kelsey Ramon and company. While they could have mixed the sound from the actors’ microphones with the monitors a little better, the microphones were clear and gave no feedback at all. The lights, designed by Eric Dietz, Ariel Fethiere, and Gabe Cargo, were presented well with very few mishaps and helped tell the story with cheesy spot light moments and pink hues.

Stage crew, run by Amy Coisnard and Alyssa Kobb and company, moved sets on and off swiftly without distraction, however some of the crew were observable on the corners of the stage waiting to move the set. The makeup for some characters was beautifully done and notably assisted Professor Callahan with acting the age of an older professor.

West Broward High School’s drama department got “Whipped Into Shape” for their Cappies debut of their “Positive”-ly fun packed production of “Legally Blonde”!

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By Eden Skopp of Stoneman Douglas High School

Elle Woods might be blonde, but she’s not “that” blonde. She can litigate with the best of them and the bubbly Miss Woods has a few things to teach the up and coming lawyers at Harvard Law in West Broward High School’s production of “Legally Blonde”.

Amanda Brown’s novel “Legally Blonde” inspired both movie (2001) and musical (2007) of the same title. The stage adaptation was nominated for seven Tony Awards and features music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin and book by Heather Hach. The protagonist, Elle Woods, is a perky, blonde, Malibu Barbie replica who follows her ex-boyfriend cross-country to Harvard, for all the wrong reasons. In the process of trying to win him back, Elle realizes that she has a true passion for practicing law despite the expectations of others.

Kimberly Lucas (Elle Woods) maintained a highly polished presence onstage. She drew and commanded focus. Elle is written as somewhat larger than life, but Lucas managed to bring an organic energy to the character that tethered her to reality that made her performance both charming and relatable. Kyle Christensen (Emmett Forrest) also performed well in that aspect as the geeky love interest.

Colin Miller (Professor Callahan) exhibited smooth vocal technique and consistency in the maturity he brought to Callahan, as a high school performer. Alexys Carballea (Brooke Wyndham) managed to perform demanding choreography while singing. While the cast overall featured a handful of standout performers, Kyle Valencia (Kyle the UPS Guy) stole the show. Valencia had an obvious understanding of his role’s physical humor and a mastery over the choreography.

The Delta Nu Trio (Frankie Storfer, Sarah Gorfinkel, Stefanie Prieto) had a great energy that fit the show very well overall. Storfer (Margot) and Gorfinkel (Serena) especially were consistently strong performers. Some relationships could have used more development but the vision for the show seemed to acknowledge the strengths of each performer and featured the talents of both great and small in appropriate ways.

Both sound and makeup could have benefitted from a heavier hand. The lighting department added complexity to their design by using side lights that sometimes were delayed or drew attention away from the scene, but the thematic colors, like pink for Elle or the Irish flag during Ireland were whimsical and added a nice touch.

Beneath the pink frills and rhinestones, “Legally Blonde” is truly an anthem of feminine strength, touching on themes such as loyalty to friends, personal motivation, true love, and most importantly, letting your inner light shine through.

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Reviews of Coral Glades High School’s production of
Pippin on Feb. 20

By Magali Trench of Cypress Bay High School

The typical “Happily-Ever-After” plot line may be attractive to generations of younger individuals, however, what happens when the “real world” takes over and a show presents real people, real music, real endings? Pippin, that’s what happens. Coral Glades High School’s performance of the Tony Award-winning musical showed the audience this “real world” in a beautifully-executed production. Pippin, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and script by Roger O. Hirson, steps outside of the usual musical boundaries and explores true life, something that very few shows take the risk of capturing.

First appearing, and advancing the story’s progression, was the character of the Leading Player, played by Sophia Young. Understanding and fully committing to what her character demanded of her, Young commanded the stage with such ease and filled the space with her strong vocals and vibrato. Progressing alongside the story she was telling, Young portrayed this “transformation” very clearly, allowing the audience to pull away at the layers of superficiality to see the true meaning of the show itself. Following in her own character’s footsteps, Young kept the energy at an all time high, motivating those around her to do the same.

As we follow the almost relatable story of young Pippin, Daniel Lemache, playing this lost boy, never once strayed away from what his character demanded and truly embodied the role wholeheartedly. Through his use of defined acting choices, Lemache took charge of what his character asked of him and crafted a truly believable and authentic performance. Acting as his love interest and guide to what he was searching for all along, Haley Amann, playing the character of Catherine, helped to truly ground the show. With both actor’s great comic timing, yet full understanding of when to be serious, Lemache and Amann acted with such genuine chemistry and as a great duo.

With truly unforgettable stage presence and energy, the characters of Berthe, played by Lena Armas and Theo, played by Eli Flynn showed us all how to make even limited stage-time worthwhile. Armas took the stage by storm with her song “No Time at All,” leaving the audience erupting with laughter and singing along, except for the verses of course; those were hers. The character of Theo, although having a “small” part, had no small performance. With his beloved duck by his side, Flynn knew how to effortlessly work the audience and even when not speaking, had all eyes drawn to him.

With a cast of performers who were willing to jump through hoops for you, literally, to truly convey the metaphorical and symbolic significance of Pippin the Musical, the Band of Players complimented the leads excellently, while still embracing their moment to shine. With a stage filled with picturesque sets and through the vivid use of makeup and lights, Coral Glades High School did a great job of putting on a show that always gave the audience something to look at and constantly left them thinking.

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By Thomas Neira of Stoneman Douglas High School

With daring stunts and dazzling costumes Coral Glades High School sure has “Magic to Do” in their outstanding rendition of Pippin.

First appearing on Broadway in 1972, the blockbuster features the timeless story of Pippin, a young man struggling to find the meaning of life and happiness.  The original production under Bob Fosse received 5 Tonys and 5 Drama Desks, and the revival under Diane Paulus was equally acclaimed securing 4 Tonys and 5 Drama Desks.

In a musical with such a large amount of group numbers, the ensemble is a fundamental aspect of the show.  It is undeniable that the Band of Players in Coral Glades High School’s production of Pippin lived up to the challenge and essentially anchored the show.  Aside from being a cohesive group, each ensemble member clearly understood his or her respective character, effectively expressing individualism in their makeup, costumes, and mannerisms without being distracting.

Leading the show were Daniel Lemache as Pippin and Sophia Young as the Leading Player, and it is difficult to imagine any one else filling these two vocally demanding roles.  Their astonishing musicality was merely one of the many highlights of their performances. An iconic element of the show is the interaction with the audience and “breaking the fourth wall”.  Lemache and Young engaged the audience with such panache that they made the laborious task seem almost easy.  Apart from dexterously bridging a relationship with the audience and undeniable vocal talent, Lemache was distinguishable by his ability to also connect with his fellow actors and his obvious comfort on stage made a truly believable performance.  Young’s consistency and confidence commanded attention and smoothly steered the show.

Another outstanding performance was Haley Amann as Catherine.  Playing the sweet, lovable widow, she captured more than just Pippin’s heart as her beautiful voice rang through the theater.  The featured actors in this show proved that much stage time isn’t necessary to make a lasting impact.  Lena Armas as Berthe brought laughs and smiles during her spectacular sing-a-long “No Time At All”.  Eli Flynn as Theo was equally lively and remarkable.  And Julia Mattos was no ordinary ensemble-member; her flawless dancing was captivating and her facials never faltered.

The technical aspect of the show was impressive, considering the magnitude of the production and limitations imposed by not having a home theater, but there were still a few issues with the sound and delayed light cues.  The costume designer Manni Arango creatively hand crafted the majority of the costumes, masterfully capturing the characters’ personas in her designs.

Overall, Coral Glades High School’s production of Pippin was truly a mystical and exotic journey, so join them, go and waste an hour or two! Doo-dle-ee-do!

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By Christian Hernandez of St. Thomas Aquinas High School

Coral Glades Drama pitched the tent for its performance of Pippin in the auditorium of J.P. Taravella High School, contributing to a real-life sense of a traveling acting troupe that is written into the metafictional and frequently self-referential show. The Tony-winning musical, which opened on Broadway in 1972 and was revived in 2013, is popular for high school and community theater production for its fun story and minimal set pieces.

A circus-themed ensemble works itself around a decorated and lit-up platform under the direction of their Leading Player, a ringmaster-style character who helps to relay the story of Pippin, son of the legendary King Charlemagne, as he embarks on a quest for meaning and fulfillment. The story of Pippin, set in a very liberal version of the Middle Ages and very loosely based on actual historical precedent, tackles modern issues of war, politics, and love.

Daniel Lemache plays the young royal with earnest innocence and plays off the performances of his castmates. Yusuf Qurashi plays the role of Pippin’s father, Charlemagne, as a very comedic contrast to Pippin mature and philosophical nature. In fact, Pippin’s entire family often interrupts his contemplation in outlandish fashion, as the prince must contend for his father’s attention with his scheming stepmother and meathead half-brother, respectively played by Manni Arango and Austin Blake. Lena Armas completely steals her scene as Berthe, Pippin’s paternal grandmother, as she demonstrates to Pippin how to loosen up and live a little in the song “No Time At All.” The role demands an actress with a large stage presence and Armas enthusiastically steps in, even more so to the audience’s delight as she calls them to participate in her chorus and a screen drops to display the words of the song.

The Leading Player (Sophia Young) nicely transitions from a playful performer in Act I to a more grizzled supervisory role in Act II. Throughout the first act, Sophia Young entertains the audience with song and dance while the cast prepares for the next scene behind the curtain. Despite a few swallowed lyrics, her voice and movements were very good. In the scene to open Act II, she and Pippin show off their dance skills as they commit to jumping, moving, and shaking their hips in tandem. Later on, the Leading Player displays her frustrated side while commanding the stage crew to dismantle the set, shut the lights, and turn off the music only to then exit the stage in a huff because Pippin has undermined her “vision” for the finale spectacular. Rounding out the main cast are Catherine (Haley Amann) and Theo (Eli Flynn), a humble mother and son pair who show Pippin the joys of an ordinary life. Amann had a lovely singing voice and Flynn made a strong impression by making the most with his limited stage time.

Coral Glades Drama evokes the glamour of a circus act with on-stage acrobatics and extensive Fosse-style choreography, complete with a hat and cane sequence. Students put together the colorful costumes of the ensemble, as well as the large number of props that were brought in and out of the performance. Tech managed itself well with unobtrusive lighting and only a few instances of microphone reverb.

The elements of the show blended together to fulfill the promise of the opening number. Coral Glades indeed made theater magic and in the process “spread a little sunshine” with its production of Pippin.

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By Katie Mechlin of Suncoast Community High School

Pippin is one of the most celebrated musicals of all time. Coral Glades’ production of Pippin would make the creators proud. The set was minimalist, yet very lively, and the ensemble was a delightful group of students who were always full of enthusiasm. For the audience, Pippin provided plenty of magical moments.

Pippin has music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Roger O. Hirson. It was originally directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse, whose style is very prevalent through the show. In 2013, the show was revived with a totally different aesthetic, one that Coral Glades’ joyfully borrows. The show follows the life of prince Pippin and his journey for meaning.

Key performances of the night came from Sophia Young as the Leading Player, and Daniel Lemache as Pippin. Young maintained an entertainingly faux and sinister demeanor as the show’s enthusiastic narrator, while Lemache provided a conflicted yet appealing character in the form of awkward Pippin. Additionally, Lena Armas as Pippin’s grandmother Berthe was one of the most memorable performances due to her genuine hilarity and comic timing during her song “No Time At All”.

Haley Amann as Catherine stood out vocally during the second act, where she provided the natural warmth that was desperately needed in an otherwise flashy show. Her singing was consistently beautiful and she provided some very impressive harmonies during her song with Lemache called “Love Song”.

The costumes were very well-crafted and fit the setting well. Each ensemble member wore an original costume that felt unique, but never taking away too much attention from the action. Each student designed their own makeup and applied it themselves, which is remarkable given that they all looked so polished. Finally, the set was a very innovative way to tell the story, with one smaller stage inside the stage. Platforms on either side allowed for levels and certain dance numbers.

Another very impressive thing about Coral Glades’ Pippin was the number of gymnastic and acrobatic tricks that ensemble members performed. Julia Mattos, in particular, displayed a wide variety of stunts that were all phenomenally executed. There were dance numbers involving giant green exercise balls, cartwheels and stilts. All of this made the circus theme from the revival feel more alive and it is highly commendable that the students performed these stunts with such accuracy.

All in all, Coral Glades’ production of Pippin was enjoyable and fun. The comedy was very well executed, the singing was confident and the set was vibrant and effective. All of the students involved should be very proud of their simply magical performance.

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By Nick Lopez of Cypress Bay High School

Not all heroes wear capes – or stilts, or bedazzled leotards. Come peek under the curtain of Coral Glades High School’s production of Pippin, an ambitious concoction of back-flips, sword fights, soaring melodies, and airborne acrobatics grounded by the enthusiastic talent of its memorable leads.

With music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, Pippin opened on Broadway in 1972 and ran for 1,944 performances. Its 2013 Broadway revival was a critical and commercial success, being nominated for ten Tony Awards and winning four. In the show, a theatrical circus troupe plays out the story of Pippin, the son of a medieval king who sets out to find his place in the universe and unearth the extraordinary life he wishes to live.

Sophia Young led us through this seemingly light-hearted story with delightful quirkiness and presentational zeal as the Leading Player. Her facials and mannerisms gave the character a presence and a playfulness that commanded the stage, and her ability to find the different levels of theatricality  and creepiness within the Leading Player exemplified the complexity of the source material.

Daniel Lemache drew us into Pippin’s quest to find his “Corner in the Sky” through a down-to-earth take on the titular character. This humble demeanor and comfort on stage gave the performance charm and likability, which helped invest the audience into his journey. Haley Amann breathed fresh, natural energy in a balanced and organic performance as Catherine, Pippin’s love interest. Her tender, powerful vocals complemented this solid characterization to give the show strong emotional depth.  The comfort these actors demonstrated with their roles was not always mirrored in other performances, some of which felt slightly forced and contrived. Additionally, many performers lacked projection and enunciation in their dialogue and thus detracted from the clarity of the plotline.

Lena Armas and Eli Flynn were brilliantly hilarious as Berthe, Pippin’s exiled grandmother, and Theo, Catherine’s son, respectively. Armas’s on-point comedic timing in the sing-along crowd anthem “Time to Start Living” made the number a show highlight and the performance an audience favorite, while Flynn’s hysterically peculiar take on Theo had the audience cackling during moment he had on stage. Flynn’s impressive ability to draw humor from body language and facials translated to his dramatic scenes, where he deliver poignant emotion in an almost complete absence of dialogue.

Coral Glades had a lot of “Magic to Do” and not a lot of time to do it, having had only three days of rehearsal in a borrowed venue. In spite of this, an eclectic design was successfully managed and gave the production many impressive moments of stylistic atmosphere. The picturesque set was nicely complemented by lively student-designed costumes; the acrobatic-infused choreography was impressively executed by animated dancers, something that made up somewhat inconsistent harmonies in larger-scale numbers. Sound issues such as heavy feedback and inconsistency in mic management drew the audience out of several numbers, but actors did well to not have these issues affect their performances.

It was a bold choice to pitch up a circus tent for their latest theatrical endeavor, but after a night of pirouettes, hula-hoops, magic tricks and sing-alongs, Coral Glades’ committed cast made Pippin a successfully entertaining visual treat.

Reviews of Cooper City High School’s production of Hair on Jan. 30



By Alexis Krigger of Pine Crest School

Far out, man! Cooper City High School’s production of “Hair” gave audience members a glimpse into the lives of the members of the love-filled, peace-loving Tribe.

James Rado and Gerome Ragni’s Grammy and Tony-award winning musical, “Hair“, tells the story of a group of young hippies as they face the many common issues of 1960s American life. The story focuses mainly on a few strong members of the Tribe: Berger (Peter Pera), Claude (Alec de Jesus), Sheila Franklin (Francesca Maurer), Jeanie (Donni Rotunno), Hud (Pedro Garcia), Woof (Sergio Owen), Dionne (Margaret McVay), and Chrissy (Isabella Share Tocci). Politically active Tribe members express to the audience their strong beliefs and passions. The long-haired male members of the Tribe actively fight against conscription into the Vietnam War, but when it’s Claude’s turn to be drafted, he must decide to side with either his rebellious friends or his pressuring parents and the rest of conservative America.

Cooper City High School’s production of “Hair” was consistently energetic and left no silent pauses as it flowed through scenes and musical numbers. Although occasionally a little overly stereotypical, the cast members’ portrayals of hippies were kept up throughout the entire performance, keeping an entertaining and convincing atmosphere on stage. Audience members were actively engaged in the story as a result of the effective audience-interactivity aspect of the show, to the point where some of us felt like we were missing out a bit when the actors on stage did not come into the audience during their high-energy finale.

Alec de Jesus’s portrayal of Claude both charmed the audience with his believable embodiment of the character as well as full scenes and songs sung in a remarkable English accent. His melodious vocal ability and believable acting kept everyone emotionally involved with his character up until the finale. Francesca Maurer played Sheila Franklin with a conviction that made protest scenes more powerful while keeping songs emotionally rounded.

Peter Pera’s Berger gave us all the comic relief we needed when he bounded onstage with his spirited and effervescent performance. Jacob Rones and Jennifer Lopez, who played Hubert and Margaret Meade, kept up the comedic mood when they emerged from the audience and onto the stage to deliver their scene and had the audience cracking up. Isabella Share Tocci’s both remarkable and adorable vocal performance as Chrissy offered a glimpse into the romantically comedic mind of her character, and Sergio Owen’s delivery of Woof’s comedic lines was delightfully well timed. Aside from some mumbling and occasionally weak volume, both supporting actors and ensemble members stayed in character and were almost always fully engaged with what they were doing onstage.

The simplicity of the set matched the realistic costumes, both of which combined with the colorful lights and a groovy glowing trashcan to create a psychedelic atmosphere for the story to unfold. It was surprising to hear backing tracks with vocals in some songs, but the cast’s performance of the song “Hair” and the powerful a cappella portion of the finale was emotionally compelling and kept up a fast-paced energy.

The comedic aspects of the musical were strong and blended well with the more serious scenes, but chemistry between characters was not quite as believable. Overall, Cooper City High School’s production of “Hair” was an enjoyable experience for audience members, despite a few weak areas.

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By Daniella Tovar of Western High

Long hair and flower crowns were all-galore in Cooper City High School’s production of Hair. Enlightening the audience with ensemble numbers and idealistic scenes, it was definitely not a musical to miss.

Hair, written by James Rado and Gerome Ragni, takes viewers back into the 60s during the Vietnam War with a bang and transports them to a hazy dream of vivid colors. The musical is a display of the hippie culture of the time including the historical sexual revolution and stays true to being a conceptual musical. It revolves around three teenagers (Claude, Berger, and Sheila) who attempt to balance their lives while Claude is being drafted into the military. When it first opened, red flags shot up at the content of the musical which included nudity, sexuality, and the use of illegal drugs. It opened on Broadway in 1968 and proceeded to be revived twice more in 1977 and 2009. It was also nominated for the Best Musical Tony Award in ‘68 and won the Tony for Best Revival of a Musical in 2009. The musical exploits many themes relevant to today’s society such as race, sexual freedom, drug use, and religion.

CCHS’s production was successful in pinpointing the important aspects and views of the hippie culture. The show allowed the audience to experience the revolution through their own eyes and they were given vivid characterization through the actors.

Alec de Jesus developed Claude’s character vibrantly and thoroughly, allowing the audience to see the maturation in the persona. He lived up to the vocal demand of the part without any hesitation. Berger, a lively character, was shown to the audience by Peter Pera with excitement and vitality that added to the character’s quick wit and high energy. Berger and Claude’s strong independent roommate, Sheila, was played by Francesca Maurer.  She did a sensational job at defining her character from the beginning and carrying her out with clear vocals.

Although it was difficult at times to fully comprehend what was being said, the cast did a phenomenal job at expressing the production’s controversial themes through the ensemble numbers. The vocals were outstanding and the staging allowed the hippie tribe to be seen as a whole unit who all had something in common. Seeing more developed relationships between characters is something that would have helped the production as a whole, but the cast’s ability to conform during large group numbers replenished that.

The lighting aspect perfectly complimented the time era being reflected and set the tone for each scene or song. The visual effects, such as the small sun in the back during one of the numbers, enhanced the lighting and overall performance.

Cooper City High School tackled an extremely difficult musical without missing a beat and made “Hair” into a raw, eye-grabbing production.

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By Melody Zapata of Western High

Tripping on acid, growing long hair, and burning draft cards? Sounds more like the hippie movement of the 1960s than your everyday musical. Welcome to the psychedelic world of Cooper City High School’s “Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical.”

With book and lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni, and music by Galt MacDermot, “Hair” made its original, highly controversial Broadway debut in 1968, catching worldwide attention for challenging many of the norms held by Western society during the 60s and early 70s. The concept musical encompasses themes relating to sexual freedom, pacifism, and religion, equality between men and women, and racial discrimination that stirred threats and acts of violence against the show’s touring casts and lead to two U.S. Supreme Court cases.

With a legacy and mark on history as abundant and powerful as the one left by “Hair,” the themes and messages of this musical can be difficult to communicate to a high school audience by a teenage cast, but Cooper City High School did a phenomenal job of keying in on the emotional and social challenges faced by the hippies of the 1960s.

Alec de Jesus played Claude, a young man who is drafted to fight in the Vietnam War and has to decide between standing up for his pacifist principles or conforming with the rest of conservative America. de Jesus’ stage presence, vocal strength, and commitment made for a successful performance as the leading character of this production. His skillful switch between the British accent used during “Manchester, England” to the American accent used throughout the rest of the show was instrumental to the characterization of a man struggling to solidify his identity in a changing society.

Peter Pera (Berger) and Francesca Maurer (Sheila Franklin) made exceptional additions to the cast. Pera’s consistent energy and physicality were instrumental in contributing to the comedic relief of the production. The stage and ensemble seemed to light up in scenes where Pera had lines, playing off of his incessant energy and character commitment. Maurer’s rendition of “Easy To Be Hard” exhibited her as one of the strongest female voices in the cast and was one of the moments that captured the intended “rock musical” style of show.

Some featured characters like Margaret Mead, played by Jennifer Lopez, and Woof, played by Sergio Owen, highlighted the social statements tied with the comedy of “Hair.” Woof’s infatuation with Mick Jagger was brilliantly showcased to reveal the hippies’ stance on free love while Lopez’s performance displayed a rejection of sexual repression.

Overall, Cooper City High School’s cast of “Hair” did exceptionally well with a piece that involves complex themes of the sexual revolution and anti-war era. Their hard work and dedication to the show was seen in the ensemble’s energetic and entertaining performance.

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By Erin Cary of University School of NSU

Colorful clothes, burning draft cards, and long, beautiful hair! It’s the groovy revolution at Cooper City High School’s far out production of “HAIR”.

In the “Age of Aquarius”, a tribe of freedom-loving hippies fights against the oppressive policies of the times and the drafting of young Americans into the Vietnam War. But when one tribe member, Claude, receives his draft card, he begins to fall out of the anti-war mentality and to question his path for the future. “HAIR” first played off-Broadway in October of 1967 and made its Broadway debut in April of 1968. The show received a Grammy Award for its music, written by Galt MacDermot, in 1969. The book and lyrics, written by James Rado and Gerome Ragni, delve into questions of American nationalism, love, drugs, freedom, and war. With its bold statements on American politics and culture, “HAIR” has engaged audiences for over 45 years!

The leads of Cooper City’s production carried energy from number to number, consistently engaged and alert. Alec de Jesus (Claude) created a believable character and portrayed a continuing struggle between standing up for his freedom and fighting for his country. His strong vocals and character work helped to convey the complexity and dimensions of Claude’s nature. Francesca Maurer depicted the love and anger of Sheila Franklin in fluid transitions. Her vocals added to her emotion and created dynamic between characters.

The supporting roles of “HAIR” also created an energetic environment for the audience and for their fellow actors. Peter Pera (Berger) always displayed engaged enthusiasm, creating an eye-catching stage presence. Whether he was the star of the scene or reacting in the background, his character never wavered from the zealous tribe leader that the audience met in the very first scene. His vocals, movements, and expressions created a strong character from start to finish. Doni Rotunno brought to life the Earth-loving, Claude-loving, soon-to-be mother, Jeanie. Rotunno’s vocals and interactions added to her performance and strengthened the show’s theme of love.

Despite some performers who appeared disengaged, the majority of the cast put solid effort into each scene and song. Sergio Owen hilariously carried out Woof’s one-sided love affair with Mick Jagger, making the audience burst into fits of laughter. Margaret McVay (Dionne) and Isabella Share Tocci (Chrissy) displayed incredible vocals in numbers like “Aquarius” and “Frank Mills”. The ensemble numbers, “Hair” and “The Flesh Failures (Let the Sunshine In)”, rooted the audience members in their seats, expressing power and pain. The audience interaction added another element to the show, effectively putting the spectators right into the 1960s.

The lighting and costumes of the show aided the actors in accurately conveying the time period. Although some lines were lost because of problems with the microphones, the actors made up for it with their skill in projection and pronunciation.

The emergence of hippie counterculture was meant to make Americans think about their freedom and about their happiness. Too easily, Americans now push away those parts of the hippie movement in favor of the bright colors and the crazy hair. Cooper City High School’s beautiful execution of “HAIR” used those colors and that hair, along with quality vocals, excellent character work, and great stage presence, to remind people what the “Age of Aquarius” was really all about.

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By Ana Hymson of Stoneman Douglas High School

Beads. Flowers. Freedom. Happiness. A tribe of young, rebellious souls form a tight-knit family of their own during the time of the Vietnam War; the iconic story was shared in Cooper City High School’s recent production of “Hair.”

Hair,” which is known as “the American Tribal Love-Rock Musical” is comprised of music by Galt MacDermot and book and lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni. The controversial musical, which was the first of its kind, tells the tale of Claude Bukowski, draftee and tribe leader; George Berger, Claude’s eccentric friend; Sheila Franklin, who is lovestruck and dejected, and the many members of their tribe. “Hair” was awarded a Tony for Best Revival of a Musical in 2009.

Cooper City High School’s production was anchored by the strong ensemble work in much of the show.

Alec de Jesus (Claude) had one of the strongest voices on the stage. “Manchester, England” was a vocally impressive number in which he sang in a consistent and convincing English accent. de Jesus was eye-catching during ensemble scenes and musical numbers, and worked to develop the maturity that his character acquired throughout the show. Francesca Maurer (Sheila), who was front and center to lead the tribe’s chants, created a great spotlight moment for herself with her performance of “Easy to be Hard.”

Peter Pera (Berger) proved himself to be a strong stage presence, dialing up the energy and bringing the fun to the production. His acting was consistent and the physical choices he made conveyed the free-spirited nature of the character. In the last few moments of the show, he brought a solemn maturity to the stage that was perfectly suited to the plot. Margaret McVay (Dionne) was a vocal powerhouse, leading “Aquarius” expertly, and lending strength to “Three Five Zero Zero.” Isabella Share Tocci danced and sang beautifully; “Frank Mills” was a very sweet moment! Jennifer Lopez (Margaret Mead) and Jacob Rones (Hubert) were a comedic highlight of the performance as they interacted with the ensemble after an energetic performance of the show’s title number, “Hair.” Each member of the ensemble transformed into a distinct character, and much of their vocal work was impressive. Many actors needed to form clearer relationships to better relay the complex plot to the audience, and some needed to make better use of the stage during musical numbers, as they often became stagnant.

The lighting used in the show was intricate and appropriate. Gobos were used to make psychedelic patterns on the cyc, and moving lights added to the overall tone. There were some microphone issues, but most of the actors with faulty mics were able to project well enough to be heard. The tracks played for musical numbers were slightly awkward, as the music stopped completely for dialogue instead of the underscoring being included. This left some vocalists stumbling when the music started back up after their dialogue.

Cooper City High School took on a very challenging and mature script, but they “let the sunshine in” to their performance to create a lively production!

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Reviews of Plantation High School’s Annie on Jan. 23

By Trent Hampel of Western High

With countless conflicting views about today’s economic crisis, we often overlook how similar situations affected families in the past. Severe financial struggle forces an immeasurable amount of parents to give up their children for adoption. In Plantation High School’s rendition of Annie, the audience travels back in time to witness the obstacles and trials overcome by America’s most iconic redheaded orphan.

Harold Gray first created the story in his nationally acclaimed comic strip “Little Orphan Annie” in 1924, which Charles Strouse converted into a hit musical in 1977. Annie ran for six years and achieved the Tony for Best Musical in the year of its release. It chronicles the story of an orphaned girl named Annie invited to Christmas with billionaire businessman Oliver Warbucks; the duo then launches a nationwide search to locate Annie’s biological parents.

Kaley Nelson (Annie) presented a tireless, childlike energy coupled with impressive consistency in her role. Nelson maintained an infantile voice and bounced around the stage with excitement in all her movements, ranging from her innocent grins to her unexpected hugs.  Nelson also displayed impressive vocal talent in songs such as “Tomorrow” and “Maybe.” Francisco Jimenez (Oliver Warbucks) established himself as a patriarchal figure with his smooth voice and composed demeanor. Jimenez revealed lyrical ability in “N.Y.C.” and demonstrated versatility, shifting from a businesslike manner in phone calls with the president to comedic timing in his whimsically awkward radio appearance.
Rachael Rampersad (Grace Farrell) delivered eloquent articulation that only enhanced her singing capability. Rampersad juxtaposed pleasantly with Jimenez with her serene voice and caring facial expressions, such as knitting her eyebrows and pouting her lips when expressing concern. Kyle Achaibar (Rooster) added a sly persona to the show. His slow voice and movements with his cunning smile introduced him as deceptive and clever.

Chad Rodriguez (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) drew attention whenever on stage. His beaming expressions, audible voice, and lively fist pumps truly animated his character and added a humorous component to the performance. Ashley McFadden (Miss Hannigan) captured the lunacy of her character primarily in “Little Girls.” McFadden paced the stage with a drunken stride, exaggerated arm swinging, and fed up attitude. Other notable performers included Isla Jaquith (July), Teodora Marcella (Duffy), and the orphans as a whole.

The set and props were executed remarkably well with evident attention to detail, for example, the hanging street signs and grandeur of Warbucks’ house. Unfortunately, microphones were sporadic and constantly disrupted the focus of the actors, who did not always project when necessary. There appeared to be numerous missed cues with the timing of songs and line delivery respectively, while ensembles fluctuated with vital energy. Despite frequent setbacks in the second act, the cast exceptionally maintained composure.

Plantation High School’s Annie boasted a talented cast regrettably plagued by costly technical problems. Overall, the performers on stage put forth an admirable effort into delivering an entertaining show and worked with what they had to the best of their abilities.

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By Shea Rogus of South Plantation High School

When the roaring 20’s ended with the crash of 1929, America had very little hope left. The iconic story of “Annie” personified the childlike hope needed in the Great Depression. In Plantation High School’s production of “Annie” this sense of hope was effervescent.

Annie”, presented by Mike Nichols, is one of the most iconic rags to riches stories of all time. When we first meet Annie she is living in an orphanage waiting for her biological parents to come back for her. This lively eleven year old temporarily moves in with billionaire Oliver Warbucks for the holidays but then permanently moves into his heart.

Plantation’s cast embraced the youthfulness of “Annie.” Although they were blindly tasked with various technical issues, the cast kept the upbeat rhythm of the show.

Kaley Nelson (Annie) embodied the hopeful adolescent with her cheerful voice and smile. With each reprise of the song “Maybe”, Nelson’s childlike hopefulness grew with the character. Francisco Jimenez’s (Oliver Warbucks) powered through sound issues with his vocal projection, stiff mannerisms, and Sinatra-esc voice that fit the character nicely. Nelson and Jimenez’s duets had a beautiful vocal mix that accompanied their flourishing father- daughter relationship.

Contrasting Nelson’s sweet characteristics were Ashley McFadden’s (Miss Hannigan) sour ones. Despite McFadden only being a teenager, the use of bitter facial expressions assisted her in her characterization. When McFadden was not always the easiest to understand, due to technical sound issues, her body language filled in the gaps. Rachael Rampersad’s (Grace Farrell) optimistic depiction of the thoughtful character supported the actions of Nelson and Jimenez as the plot continued. Even though he was only present in a few scene, Chad Rodriguez’s (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) upbeat performance was an extra comedic relief to the storyline.

From the opening scene of the show until the curtain closed, the rag-tag female ensemble that played The Orphans kept a whimsical liveliness to their slum. The servant ensemble in Warbucks’ estate maintained a professional appearance but not every actor stayed in character during longer scenes. While standing at attention their harmonies were often overpowered by the named characters.

Technical aspects of the show reinforced the era in which it took place. The student director, Larissa Angrisanio, did a commendable job with creating diverse stage pictures. The set, designed by Angrisanio and McFadden, captured the essence of the 1930s setting. Although some set pieces could have had more use, the attention to detail was rather impressive. The duration of the change of set pieces took away from the world of the show as did technical issues in sound.

Plantation’s take on this iconic rags to riches story restores smiles and hope to a new generation.

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By Felicia Reich of American Heritage School

Complete with singing, dancing, and a red headed dynamo, the sun sure did come out for Plantation High School’s production of Annie.

Based on the beloved Harold Gray comic strip Little Orphan Annie, the musical Annie found great success in its almost six-year Broadway run, numerous national tours, and Tony award.

When an eleven-year-old orphan living under the harsh care of Miss Hannigan spends the Christmas holiday with New York tycoon Oliver Warbucks, young Annie’s life is changed forever. A symbol of guidance and optimism for America, Annie reminds the world to never forget what hope lies in tomorrow.

While Plantation High’s production suffered some unfortunate technical missteps, the performers handled each error with professionalism and poise. The energy of the actors remained impressively consistent despite the offstage faults.

Moreover, Kaley Nelson in the role of Annie created a rich and believable character. Her gait, vocal cadence, and overall physicality wholly resembled that of an effervescent eleven-year-old. Both her and her counterpart, Francisco Jimenez (Oliver Warbucks), succeeded in developing a lively onstage connection.

An outstanding supporting cast member, Rachael Rampersad, as Grace Farrell, brought a light and a high quality of entertainment to the stage with each appearance. She remained engaged with her fellow actor’s and committed to her performance. While the ensemble struggled with the occasional pitch issue, Farrell’s performance and vocal quality remained constant throughout. Additionally, Natajah Fuller (Lily St. Regis) offered the audience an impressive comedic energy.

Although there is plenty of room for improvement in the technical categories, there is something to be said about a technically student-driven show. Most of the costumes were fitting to the Great Depression era and the hair and makeup of the Boylan Sisters looked clean, polished, and accurate to the time period.

The combination of talent, passion, and commitment from the cast members of Plantation High School’s Annie proved to be the perfect ingredients of a truly enjoyable show.

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By Miranda Vogt of North Broward Preparatory School

Plantation High School’s production of “Annie” shone like the top of the Chrysler building. A student directed and produced show, “Annie” showed the passion these students had for theater.

Based off of the comic strip Little Orphan Annie by Harold Gray, the musical premiered in 1976, bringing the timeless story of a rags-to-riches little girl with a fighting spirit and a stray dog to life. “Annie” takes place during the Great Depression and presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (depicted in the musical). The iconic image of the red-haired orphan girl signified hope in a better tomorrow.

The students at Plantation High School certainly brought that message to the stage. Though at times a little messy, the dedication to this production was clear to see. As a whole, the cast was energetic and worked well together, even when mistakes or disturbances occurred. Stage pictures such as in “Fully Dressed” and “Fully Dressed (Children)” were a treat for the eye. The whole cast and crew made the best of the resources they had at their disposal.

Francisco Jimenez as Oliver Warbucks brought the true fighting spirit of the musical to the production. Even when there were difficulties with his microphone, he fought through them and improvised during unintentional pauses, showing the true meaning of “the show must go on.” In musical numbers such as “I Don’t Need Anyone But You” and “N.Y.C.”, he showcased his musicality as well as his acting talents. Kaley Nelson, playing Annie, brought further spirit to the stage. Her rendition of “Maybe” was touching, and she had definite dog-whispering capabilities.

Chad Rodriguez as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was a delightfully comic cast member who made any scene he was a part of instantly funnier. Who says the President can’t enjoy a nice rendition of “Tomorrow” during a cabinet meeting? And Ashley McFadden played the over-the-top Miss Hannigan with gusto and humor that was well appreciated by the audience.

The technical side of the show was a little distracting to audience members at times, and sometimes took characters out of the scene: the microphones sometimes had feedback and the music track was late a few times. Though illuminating upstage well, lighting was a little lacking when the cast members came downstage. However, considering the incredible feat of student directing, producing and teching an entire high school show, the crew should be praised for their effort and ability to go above and beyond what was expected.

Plantation High School’s “Annie” certainly left the audience smiling. Even with technical difficulties and a little improvisation, the hard work the cast and crew put into this show was evident, and you can bet your bottom dollar that this production’s Sandy was the cutest dog to ever have that role.

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By Laralee Simpson of Archbishop McCarthy High School

The ‘hard-knock’ musical Annie always has a certain place in people’s hearts. From the classic movie from 1982, to the most recent movie from 2014, the name ‘Annie’ always seems to ring some sort of bell in people’s head. The iconic musical was showcased through laughter and emotion in Plantation High School’s production of Annie.

Taken from the time era of the Great Depression in 1933, a hopeful orphaned girl named Annie has been dreaming about having parents of her own for her entire life. She tries to dream and imagine what they could be like. The orphanage she lives in is run by an abusive, self-centered woman named Miss Hannigan. The orphan Annie eventually becomes the interest of a billionaire, Oliver Warbucks. The story just builds off from there!

There were quite a few technical mistakes during the performance, ranging from microphone problems to songs being delayed. Nevertheless, the student performers continued to push through and continue their scenes. If a mic went out, they just made more of an effort to project towards the audience.

Kaley Nelson played the iconic role of Annie in the production, perfectly mastering every aspect about the part. Considering Nelson is not 11 years old, she had to come out of her comfort zone and her present herself as a young child to the audience. She did this astonishingly well and had you actually thinking she was a younger than her actual age. Oliver Warbucks, played by Francisco Jimenez, deserves to be commended as well. Jimenez probably had the most trouble with his mic out of every performer in the show, and though the audience was unable to hear Jimenez on and off throughout the show, he pushed through and continued to be as big as possible for the audience to clearly see his character.

Ashley McFadden took on the role of the cruel Miss Hannigan. She had the audience laughing throughout the entire performance, with her drunkenness and her disgust with little children. Chad Rodriguez, playing the role of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, kept the audience in stitches, as well. His presence just brought a joyful demeanor to the room that had everyone smiling whenever he would deliver his lines.

Though the set design was simple, it conveyed the different locations by all of the little details produced by the students. Everything from the paintings in the orphanage to the Christmas tree in Oliver Warbucks’s mansion had been decorated and moved to fit the scene. The crew and actors paid attention to detail which definitely paid off.

Overall, the cast of Plantation High School’s Annie had the audience laughing while they brought to life the iconic story of Annie, everyone’s favorite orphan.

Reviews of A Few Good Men at Archbishop McCarthy High School on Saturday, 11/1

By Kimberley Lucas of West Broward High School

There were far more than a few good elements in Archbishop McCarthy High’s “A Few Good Men.” When a code of “Unit, Core, God, Country” becomes more than just words to live by, a struggle to find the distinction between what is right and what is moral becomes an overbearing struggle, and not everyone could “handle the truth.”

Aaron Sorkin’s courtroom drama set in the summer of 1986 depicts the event of a questionable murder in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. When two marines are arrested for what seems like homicide of a fellow marine, unlikely teammates fight to defend those accused, seeking the real reason behind the events at “Gitmo.” Premiering on Broadway at the Music Box Theatre in New York 1989, “A Few Good Men” brings themes of what is right and what is correct; and the struggle between following an order and following morals, to light.

Focus and energy were two key components of the cast, who doubled as the crew. The lack of microphones was almost completely unnoticeable in the black box theatre as projection and articulation only faltered sparingly. Scene changes were quick and fluid, making the pacing of the show synchronized with the anxious mood of the mysterious plot.

The performance by Eric Maltz was well carried out for the iconic role of Daniel Kaffee. His deliverance of subtle humor was the ideal comic relief for a play of such serious nature. Most noticeably creditable was Maltz’s execution of the transformation from a careless, happy-go-lucky lawyer who had never been in a courtroom into a driven, passionate man determined to find the truth behind the events of Guantanamo Bay. Sharing the stage with Maltz was Rachel O’Hara (Joanne Galloway), whose characterization and focus on stage is worthy of mention. O’Hara not only acted well as the part of Galloway, but reacted with facial expressions that gave vivacity to her character. The two were an excellent pair, bringing to life Kaffee and Galloway’s balance of skill and determination.

Two performers that stood out in the supporting cast were Nicholas Palazzo (Matthew Markinson) and Matthew Salas (Nathan Jessep). Palazzo displayed great conflict as Markinson, highlighted in scenes with his superior officer, Jessep. His tragic monologue in full uniform was powerful, passionate, and insightful, highlighted only by the dramatic music emphasizing the enormity of his words. Also delivering an effective monologue was Salas, whose performance of the well known “you can’t handle the truth,” made hairs stand on end. Salas gave great animation to the antagonist that everyone loves to hate.

Most prominent technical aspects were the use of lighting and sound. With over 80 light and sound cues, each was timely and exact, as well as appropriate for each scene. The play consists of many flashbacks, which could be difficult to portray, but the dramatic melody in the background of significant moments as well as mysterious blue lighting was both natural and effective. The sound levels never overbore the actors on stage, and the chanting of soldiers in between scenes was a good reminder of the play’s setting and theme.

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By Lauren Hutton of American Heritage School

“You can’t handle the truth!” The iconic line is screamed by an enraged colonel as he defends his morally questionable actions in a high stakes courtroom murder case. Suspense builds as a passionate young lawyer delivers each impactful word, the judge loses her collected façade as the fate of two young marines becomes uncertain, and a virtuous captain turns the trigger on himself under the crushing weight of a guilty conscience. Archbishop McCarthy’s performance of “A Few Good Men” was incredibly suspenseful, emotionally draining, and surprisingly comedic.

“A Few Good Men,” written by Aaron Sortkin, began on Broadway in 1989 and ran successfully for 497 performances.  It was later adapted to a 1992 movie with the same title, starring Tom Hanks, Demi Moore, and Jack Nicholson. The courtroom military drama shifts from Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and Washington D.C. in 1986.

The show follows two military lawyers and a determined commander as they attempt to defend two marines accused of murdering a comrade, in a controversial ‘code red.’ The complicated story line follows an abundance of twists and turns, as the ever illusive truth is simultaneously sought after and concealed.

The technical elements of this show were exceedingly powerful and helped portray the strained mood and add to the intensity of every moment. Dramatic blue lighting during solemn flashbacks, the colors of the flag portraying a bold backdrop, and daring red light highlighting the danger of certain moments were extremely effective. The music, played live, was also seamlessly incorporated to make every moment more impactful. The army chants during scene transitions, the chaotic beat adding pressure to the already desperate lawyers, and the solemn piano notes aiding in emotional monologues made this production all encompassing and extremely poignant.

The entire cast was incredibly dynamic. The sheer strength, and at times terrifying brutality of military officers, the almost robotic loyalty of marines, and the passion of those fighting for justice was impressive to say the least. Lead lawyer Daniel Kaffee, played by Eric Maltz, had the most intensely captivating performance. He grew from an arrogant Harvard graduate with little actual experience, to a genuine and passionate man fighting for justice. His comedic timing was impeccable with clever quips and genius physical gestures, but he triumphed when he became more invested, as the case progressed. Every moment of his shouting, broken-down state was heart wrenching and rousing.

Mathew Salas as Nathan Jessep was the perfect villain, an officer so sure of his convictions he couldn’t admit that his need for power and respect had made him cruel. His physicality and general impact were stirring and frankly, terrifying. He commanded the stage with a believable authority.

As men in uniform stand and chant the marine loyalty code, “Unit, Corp, God, Country” as a mindless defense for a brutal act, the morals of military conduct are brought to center stage. “A Few Good Men” was an engaging, emotional, and thought-provoking performance that was executed beautifully.

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By Josie Roth of North Broward Preparatory School

Can you handle Archbishop McCarthy High School’s production of ‘A Few Good Men?’ Chock-full of intense standoffs, heart-pounding drama, and an overarching moral ambiguity, Archbishop McCarthy showed us that sometimes, the line between right and wrong can be a bit blurry.

Written by Aaron Sorkin (of ‘The West Wing’ and ‘The Newsroom’ fame), ‘A Few Good Men’ premiered on Broadway in 1989. The successful play was later adapted into the well-known film of the same name, starring Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, and Demi Moore. The story follows a team of lawyers who uncover a high-level military breach as they defend their clients, two marines who are on trial for the murder of a fellow soldier.

Archbishop McCarthy High School took the challenge of performing this iconic show head-on. The entire cast was fully committed to their characters, and their deep understanding of the complicated emotional nuances of the play shone through from beginning to end.

Eric Maltz as Lt. J.G. Daniel A. Kaffee, the Harvard-educated defense lawyer whose initial indifference to the outcome of the case transitions to overwhelming passion as the trial proceeds, showcased his character’s development with true professionalism. By the end of the show, one couldn’t help but root for Kaffee as he zealously defended his clients. In much the same way, Rachel O’Hara’s portrayal of Lt. Cmdr. Joanne Galloway, a hard-headed internal affairs lawyer who works her way onto the defense team, tugged at the heartstrings. Her enthusiasm for the role was evident, especially as her character developed into more than just a “by-the-book” rule-follower.

Among a particularly strong ensemble, two showstoppers were Lt. Col. Nathan Jessep, the main antagonist whose orders caused the eventual death of his soldier (played by Matthew Salas) and Jackie Ross, the prosecuting lawyer who gives the defense a run for their money (played by Bella Miulescu). Salas’ command of the stage, especially during such iconic lines as the impassioned “You can’t handle the truth!”, and ease with which he played his mature character made it difficult to believe that he was only in high school. Miulescu’s portrayal also contributed greatly to the intense back-and-forth of the courtroom, and her overall strong performance added to the professionalism of the show as a whole.

Tech aspects of the show ran smoothly. Set changes (performed by cast members) were seamless, and sound and light cues were completed with near-silence and obvious precision. Though some might consider a black-box theatre to be a challenge, Archbishop McCarthy handled it with ease.

Ultimately, Archbishop McCarthy High School embraced ‘ Few Good Men’ with gusto and zeal that one could feel even from the audience. Through their supremely entertaining performance, they showed us that passion leads to triumph, and that the truth will always come out in the end.

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By Ana Hymson of Stoneman Douglas High School

Unit, corps, God, country: the motto of the United States Marines stationed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In an attempt to uphold these values, two teenage Marines follow fatal orders from a commanding officer, and so began Archbishop McCarthy High School’s Production of “A Few Good Men.”

“A Few Good Men,” written by Aaron Sorkin, was famously adapted into a screenplay for the 1992 movie. It is the story of two young Marines who are on trial for murder of a fellow corps member, and their lawyers, Daniel Kaffee and Joanne Galloway, who face many moral conflicts as they decipher how far someone will go to “just follow orders.”

Archbishop McCarthy High School’s production was anchored by the cast’s unwavering understanding of the script’s complex plot and mature subject matter.

Eric Maltz (Daniel Kaffee) tackled his multi-faceted role with great skill. He seamlessly transitioned between moments that were vastly different in nature, turning moments of drunken stumbling into those of enraged yelling with ease. Rachel O’Hara (Joanna Galloway) created a clear, believable arc for her character. She gave dimension to the role with impactful facial expressions and a sharp wit. Maltz and O’Hara developed incredibly genuine chemistry that lent a cinematic quality to their time on stage together.

Matthew Salas (Nathan Jessep) embodied his role with all of the maturity and authority necessary to make the character, who is the primary antagonist, what it needed to be. He followed through with all of his acting choices deliberately and decisively. Bella Miulescu (Jackie Ross) brought just the right degree of aggression and passion to the stage. Remaining in character at all times, Miulescu made a highly convincing lawyer. Kevin Fitzpatrick (Sam Weinberg) provided a few well-timed moments of comic relief, which, juxtaposed with his more intense moments, proved his prowess in making character choices. Juan Arcila (William Santiago) and Alex Palazzo (Julia Alexander Randolph) made great use of their limited stage time; Arcila revealed the raw fear of a tormented Marine while Palazzo unraveled the impartiality of a military judge. All of the actors worked well together, reacting to and playing off of one another consistently and realistically. The men of the show, especially, held themselves with commendable confidence that allowed each actor to develop a distinct physicality.

Stage manager Christine Fanchini made the production run smoothly, even without a stage crew, by coordinating scene transitions to be executed by the actors. The transitions were smooth and swift, never drawing attention away from the scenes that happened simultaneously. The live music that underscored the scenes was a perfect touch in that it added drama and tension without being overwhelming. The cadence calls played during some scene transitions added to the military atmosphere.

Archbishop McCarthy High School did not shy away from the challenge of such a controversial show and proved that they have more than a few good men and women among them.

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By Patricia Pimentel of West Broward High School

Unit. Corps. God. Country. These are the themes prevalent in “A Few Good Men,” brought to the court (and to the stage) by Archbishop McCarthy.

Written by Aaron Sorkin, “A Few Good Men” follows the trial of two U.S. Marines accused of murdering a fellow officer. The military lawyers, in the process of building a defense for their clients, are forced to question morality, loyalty, and ultimately, what constitutes the truth. The play first opened on Broadway in 1989, and was adapted into a successful film in 1992.

Lt. Cmdr. Joanne Galloway (Rachel O’Hara) is an immediate source of vitality in the production. Her spunky, undaunted attitude pours forth from her first moments onstage. Galloway’s drive in her mission to defend the young Marines radiates from O’Hara’s expressions and body language. O’Hara’s performance is energetic and wholly present, and she meets her match when Galloway is introduced to Lt. J.G. Daniel A. Kaffee (Eric Maltz). Maltz builds Kaffee’s character throughout the course of the show with incredible skill; starting off as carefree and indifferent toward the case he’s been assigned, he rises to the occasion and takes to the courtroom in an unforgettable fervor. Throughout the production, O’Hara and Maltz create a dynamic connection, using humorous banter and high-stakes moments to develop a relationship between their characters — not only as professionals, but as people.

The content of the show in itself makes it difficult to pull off at a high school level, one of the reasons being that many characters have life experience and authority that most teenagers do not. That said, Matthew Salas made it easy to forget all of that in his portrayal of Lt. Col. Nathan Jessep. His presence is commanding and condescending, clearly comfortable in a position of manipulating people like pawns in a military chess game. Jessep’s ego is as enormous as Salas’ commitment, and where character and actor meet, there is a powerful performance on both the comedic and dramatic fronts.

Other notable performances came from Cmdr. Walter Stone (Kevin Veloz), who created a genuine portrait of a man caught between morality and self-preservation; Lt. J.G. Sam Weinberg (Kevin Fitzpatrick), whose comedic timing was surpassed only by his sincere connection to character; PFC. William T. Santiago (Juan Arcila), whose brief time onstage captured the honest desperation of a scared young man; and Capt. Matthew A. Markinson (Nicholas Palazzo), whose monologues contained potent strength mixed with raw human vulnerability.

The show was technically excellent, especially provided the fact that the stage crew consisted of the actors themselves. The transitions between scenes were seamless, well-coordinated, and never distracting. Aside from the occasional fumble over a line or unclear delivery, the performers were overall articulate and had masterful control over their volume. The live music underscoring scenes and set changes also lended itself to the story, adding greater depth to the conflict and emotional undertones of the play.

Archbishop McCarthy has pulled off its production of “A Few Good Men” with a level of skill, dedication, and truth that very few can handle.


Reviews of Gypsy at Pine Crest School on Saturday, 11/22

By Nick Lopez of Cypress Bay High School

Ready your wigs, heels, background dancers, and SING OUT! Everything’s coming up roses and daffodils for Pine Crest, who journeyed from vaudeville to burlesque in an impressive display of dynamic talent with their take on the Broadway classic, “Gypsy.”

Commonly lauded as one of the greatest American musicals of all time, “Gypsy” opened on Broadway in 1959. It has since enjoyed four revivals and has passed through the hands of iconic performers such as Ethel Merman, Angela Lansbury, Bernadette Peters, and Patti LuPone. Gypsy follows the story of Rose, a savagely passionate stage mother who pushes her two daughters into show business. As her daughters grow up and stardom becomes farther and farther away from reach, the true nature of show business and family is exposed in a striking character study of a woman with a tragic need to vicariously live her unfulfilled dreams by exploiting her children.

Taking on the world’s most infamous stage mom is no easy deed, but Destiny Arlotta owned the role with her fully committed, perfectly theatrical portrayal of Mama Rose. She sidestepped exaggeration while nailing the larger-than-life essence of her character – her facials were fabulously expressive, her line delivery was sharp, and her physicality animated the production. Arlotta’s commendable ability to execute both comedy, heartbreak, and extremely emotional scenes allowed her to beautifully portray the complexity of her character and thus powerfully command the show into a cathartic finale.

Laura Sky Herman soared as Rose’s under-appreciated daughter, Louise. The highly dynamic nature of Herman’s character was stunningly executed through her highly authentic portrayals of innocence, insecurity, coldness, and vanity. Such impressive characterization was elevated by the powerful technique and versatility of her vocals.

Jordanna Brody infused delightfully fun energy into an intensely dramatic show with her performance as the burlesque performer, Tessie Tura. Her immense on-stage comfort gave her character refreshing sassiness, fierceness, and playfulness – the dazzling number “You Gotta Get a Gimmick” benefitted from this confident energy and became one of the highlight songs in the show. Some performers lacked similar comfort with their roles and consequently came off as stiff and unnatural, but the overall energy of the cast helped to undermine such issues.

Gypsy’s technical aspects succeeded in providing an enriching aesthetic that did not overwhelm the performances — although set changes were not cleanly executed, lush costumes adequately set up the time period, fascinating lighting design provided intriguing transitions, and well-managed sound design balanced nicely with the orchestra.

Pine Crest might have taken a risk in visiting the vaudeville circuit for their latest production, but with the limelight on the captivating talent of their leads, they had no trouble making Mama proud with this moving and entertaining rendition of Broadway’s most timeless musical.

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By Kaley Nelson of Plantation High

Everything is coming up roses in Pine Crest High School’s performance of what is said to be one of America’s greatest musicals – Gypsy.

This 1959 musical is based on the memoirs of the famous striptease, Gypsy Rose Lee, and is centered on her mother, Rose, who is determined to make her two daughters into stars. In the show, the character Louise represents Gypsy Rose Lee and her sister, June, represents the actress June Havoc. June is inherently more talented than Louise, but Rose stills wants both of her girls to be stars. But after many misfortunes, including June running away to marry Tulsa and an accidental performance booked in a burlesque, Louise breaks out of her innocent shell and Gypsy Rose Lee is born.

This large cast of over 50 was selected to bring this story to life onstage. Rose (Destiny Arlotta) captured the attention of the audience with her magnificent stage presence. Her dramatic onstage personality and exaggerated gestures exemplified her as the typical “show business mother”.

Although some characters dealt with issues of lack of chemistry and showed weakness in characterization, June (Arielle Rozencwaig) and Louise (Laura Sky Herman) displayed exemplary chemistry, not only together, but with their mother, Rose. Both ladies had wonderful soprano singing voices and wowed the audience with angelic harmonies in “If Mama Was Married”. Louise also demonstrated exceptional character development, especially in her shift from the innocent Louise to the sassy striptease Gypsy Rose Lee.

Despite there being some members of the cast that lacked stage presence, there were some that made the short time they had on stage memorable. Most notable are Weber (Alan Koolik) and Miss Cratchitt (Anastasia Golovkine) both of whom played crotchety older individuals at different points in the story line, but both provided as comic relief with their snarky remarks and dedication to their characters. Caroline, the cow (Kaitlyn Ockerman, Madison Hawthorne) was hilarious. The cow really mooved the audience in the few scenes it was in, even participating in a synchronized danced with June in “Dainty June and Her Farmboys”, which must have been very difficult to do while being in a cow costume.

The technical aspects of the show were impressive for the most part. The set was simple, yet effective. Lights were beautiful, and the use of strobe lights to represent the children growing up at one point in Act I was very creative. There were some issues with microphones cutting in and out, but the actors onstage had such wonderful projection it was hardly noticeable.

Pine Crest High School’s performance of Gypsy had its strengths and weaknesses, but the strong performances by those dedicated to their characters assisted in the nostalgic aura of one of America’s greatest musicals.

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By Larissa Angrisanio of Plantation High

What’s better than cigars, a dancing cow, and eggrolls? What if burlesque was thrown into the mix? All of these things shined in Pine Crest School’s most recent production of the Broadway classic, Gypsy.

Gypsy is a 1959 Broadway musical: music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The idea of the musical originated from the memoirs of famous striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee. The musical is ironically focused on Rose, the show-business mother that raised Gypsy (Louise) and her sister June as they travel around America with their vaudeville act hoping to one day become stars. We travel with Rose as she goes through an emotional roller coaster of people leaving her and the stress of making her daughters famous.

Pine Crest School’s amazing cast of Gypsy managed to take Gypsy right off of the Broadway stage in New York and perform it almost flawlessly on their stage in Ft. Lauderdale. Rose (played by Destiny Arlotta) was outstanding. Her stage presence was intriguing and her vocals were topnotch. Arlotta was able to productively express her love and care for her two daughters throughout the whole production.

Louise (played by Laura Sky Herman) was a highlight of the show. Her solo “Little Lamb” made the audience members not only fall in love with her vocals but also with her character. During the second act, her transition from shy vaudeville upcoming star to striptease expert was seamless and believable.

Jordanna Brody, who played Tessie Tura, was a standout performer. Her character was consistent throughout her time on stage. Brody added a bit of comic relief to the heart break displayed during the second act. Her solo in “You Gotta Get A Gimmick” floored audience members leaving them pleased and satisfied. Caroline, the cow (played by ensemble members Kaitlyn Ockerman and Madison Hawthorne) was the comic highlight of the show. Originally intended to be comedic, audience members looked forward to the cow’s time on stage.

On the technical side of things, the lights and set made the production. Mostly smooth transitions and timely spotlights allowed for accuracy and a creative touch during the performance. Although microphones went out at times, performers’ projection made up for the lack of sound at times and made the mishap barely noticeable.

Pine Crest School’s production of the Broadway classic, Gypsy was a fun-filled and touching experience for all. With topnotch acting, unbelievable vocals, and outstanding dance numbers, they left a long lasting impression on every single audience member.

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By Doni Rotunno of Cooper City High School

Everything is coming up roses, as seen in Pine Crest School’s outstanding production of Gypsy. Full of humor, charm, and some truly emotionally intense acting, Pine Crest really captured the essence of this treasured Broadway musical.

Gypsy (book by Arthur Laurents, Music by Jule Styne, and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim), is based on the 1957 memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, the famous striptease artist.  However, the musical adaptation focuses on her mother, Rose, who has been given the title of “the ultimate show business mother”, and her journey on trying to make her girls stars.

Gypsy has come to be known as one of the best Broadway musicals of all time, setting some pretty high standards for any production.  But, for Pine Crest, this wasn’t a problem.  Though the ensemble lacked energy at certain parts, this minor detail can be overlooked, when compared to the overall quality of this production.

Destiny Arlotta takes on the role of Mama Rose, a role played by some of the biggest and best names in Broadway history.  From the moment she walked on stage, you couldn’t take your eyes off of her.  She embodied this character so well, and brought such a high level of emotion and power to it, that you couldn’t help but be captivated.  Her rendition of the final song, “Roses Turn”, was superb, as she was able to convince the audience that she was a mother on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and still vocally sing this song like there was no tomorrow.

Laura Sky Herman did a terrific job as Louise (a.k.a. Gypsy Rose Lee). Her transition from being this shy, unappreciated girl in the background, to becoming this Burlesque star, was very well done. In the scene where Gypsy tells her mother to let her go, Laura’s skills really excelled.  Some other notable performances include Jordanna Brody as lead stripper Tessie Tura, Henri Vrod as Tulsa, and Arielle Rozencwaig as June.  Lastly, I can’t forget the comedic performance of Kaitlyn Ockerman and Madison Hawthorne as Caroline the cow.  I give these two girls credit for being able to maneuver on stage in a full body cow costume, and still do dance moves in sync with the rest of the cast.

This is a challenging show to do, and the fact that a high school was able to pull it off, just shows the level of talent in this cast.  I was blown away by Pine Crest’s production, and am giving Gypsy a standing ovation.

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By Megan Chesney of Cooper City High School

Extra! Extra! Presenting, in writing, Pine Crest Fine Arts’ production of “Gypsy” by Arthur Laurents, music by Jule Styne, and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

“Gypsy” brings us the story of Rose Louise Havick, later known as Gypsy Rose Lee, a vaudeville performer, alongside her sister, turned a burlesque star. Based on her book, Gypsy: A Memoir, the musical captures the tale of Momma Rose, her star June, and Louise. “Gypsy’s” Broadway premiere was on May 21, 1959 with four revivals on the stage since and several awards, proving the high expectation and level of difficulty it is to put on such a legendary show.

Throughout the musical, Rose proclaims that she will make her daughter a star; but after songs like “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” and “Rose’s Turn”, it’s clear that Rose (Destiny Arlotta) was the star. Her performance lead the show with great expression in acting and vocals with just the right amount of energy that screams a determined stage mom. From the first time she appeared on stage, her characterization seemed to steal the spotlight that Rose thrived on.

Widely driven by Rose was her daughter Louise (Laura Sky Herman), originally a part of the background for her star sister June (Arielle Rozencwaig). The sisterly duo performed “If Momma Was Married”, showing another side to the stage presence they give as vaudeville performers versus sisters longing for a loving family. As the musical goes on and June leaves the act to elope with one of the dancers, Louise’s transition from a nervous and awkward performer into Gypsy, the confident and risque burlesque entertainer, captured the essence of an dynamic character that captivated the audience.

With minimal, yet creative set design, it was easy to understand the quick changes in scenery and for the cast to maneuver around the stage for songs like “Mr. Goldstone” and “Farm Sequence/Broadway”. A particularly memorable part of the “Farm Sequence” was the first appearance of Caroline, the cow, (Kaitlyn Ockerman, Madison Hawthorne) that soon becomes a running prop in future scenes with the cow’s head. It’s impressive for one person to do a solo dance routine, let alone two people completely synchronized while wearing a two-piece cow costume. During ensemble performances, some people were too high pitched to understand, but the unity of the ensemble pulled together to display the acts of June and Louise.

Pine Crest Fine Arts’ production of “Gypsy” was a fast-paced, entertaining show of comedy and emotion that teaches us that with enough determination and the push of a controlling, yet caring mother, stardom is achievable— vaudeville act, burlesque entertainer, or not!

Reviews of Harvey at Pope John Paul II High School on Friday, 11/21

By Erin Cary of University School of NSU

In a theater full of rumbling laughter and soft giggles, the deeper meaning of a comedy can easily escape from the minds of its onlookers. However, that was not the case at Pope John Paul II High School’s recent production of “Harvey”. Whether the scene was serious or hilarious, the production left the audience upright in their seats all night.

In the 1940’s American South, Elwood P. Dowd’s giant imaginary rabbit, Harvey, presents a problem for Elwood’s sister, Veta. When Veta tries to have Elwood committed to an asylum, the doctor mistakes her for the insane one and accidently commits her. As the truth comes out, a search begins for Elwood and his fantasy rabbit. “Harvey” has thrilled audiences since it first debuted on Broadway in November of 1944. The author, Mary Chase, received a Pulitzer Prize for the play in 1945. The show questions which people are really more dangerous: the innocent dreamers or the frazzled conformists?

The leads of the production carried a bright humor on stage with them. Andrew Birkmann, as Elwood P. Dowd, constantly connected to his character. His reactions to a nonexistent rabbit helped the viewers to envision Harvey and feel for the man who always saw Harvey. Birkmann strongly conveyed all the charm of Elwood, while still expressing Elwood’s insanity. Paige Notaras, as Veta Louise Simmons, pleasantly displayed the confusing fatigue of being sister to Elwood. Her character never wavered, and her distressed shouting kept the audience laughing through many scenes.

The supporting cast also brought smiles to the faces in the audience. Paige Gray, as the strong but lovesick Nurse Kelly, was always engaged on stage, whether she was cleverly delivering lines or quietly looking through papers at her desk. Charlie Metzger and Marco Cirillo, as Dr. Sanderson and Dr. Chumley, both displayed strong character and reacted brilliantly to every jolt in the story. Myrtle Mae Simmons’ (Rebecca Markert) constant worry and desperateness was executed well, amusing audience members. Brandon Flood, as the asylum worker, Duane Wilson, made his character hilarious even when he was not the star of the scene. With just one expression or mannerism, he could send his viewers into a fit of laughter.

Jessica Coons, as Dr. Chumley’s caring wife, Betty, expressed clear feeling through her lines. Her loving concern for Elwood and her submissive disappointment in her husband were evident through only a look or an intonation in her voice. Coleton Santacroce, as the Simmons’ studious lawyer, Judge Omar Gaffney, conveyed the confident note-taking personality of his character through the clarity and strength in his lines. While the audience lost some rushed lines, every member of the cast spoke consistently with an authentic Southern accent.

The run crew was silent and fast through every scene change. While some makeup and costumes seemed out of place for the 1940’s, the efficient set helped to depict the time period and location. The show’s program beautifully displayed the work of the marketing crew, simply capturing the essence of the play.

By the end of “Harvey”, the audience members all began to see that six-and-a-half-foot tall rabbit standing by the door. In a great display of comedy, Pope John Paul II High School brought to life a story like no other with a deep message about the very construct of human nature.

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By Carmen Horn of North Broward Preparatory School

What makes a dysfunctional family more dysfunctional? How about a giant, imaginary talking rabbit? In Pope John Paul II High School’s production of Harvey, they explore just this idea.

Harvey follows the story of the Dowd household: Veta Louise Simmons, a well-respected woman; her daughter, Myrtle Mae; and her brother, Elwood, an eccentric man with a 6 and a half foot talking rabbit for an imaginary friend, named Harvey. Veta feels like Harvey is ruining her life (and her social standing), so she decides to get Elw