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 Circus Olympus at St. Thomas Aquinas High School on Sunday, 11/19/2017.

By Coltin Garcia of Palm Beach Central High School

The circus has come to South Florida and no it is not your classic big top. This is a circus of Greek Geeks that have one or two stories to tell us. St. Thomas Aquinas High School’s production of “Circus Olympus” teaches us many different morals from various different Greek myths, but with a more humorous twist.

The play “Circus Olympus” was written by Lindsay Price. This play was published and hit the market in 2006. The play follows a troupe of Greek Geeks that do a show portraying a series of stories that retell Greek Myths. This play allows us to see a reenactment of six different myths; Demeter vs. the Underworld, Perseus and Medusa, The Mythapalooza Slam Jam, Athena, King Midas, and Pandora’s Box.

Overall, the production was very high energy and had talent to match. Merve, Ishy and the entire ensemble captivated the entire audience with their wacky but intriguing stories. The entire cast was fully connected to the story, with a high-energy and commitment to characterization.

Leading the show as Merve was Greg Telasco, whose strong vocal dialogue and well-developed character brought the audience to the circus. Ishy, played by Samara Chahine, worked alongside Telasco to narrate the show. She was able to act out scenes in the beginning and then take control towards the end to narrate. Alexa Hui, playing Osina, had excellent character development during the entire show. She was able to portray a cute and bubbly personality and able to transition into different characters she also had to portray. Though there were inorganic reactions and unnecessary shouting throughout the show, the characters’ high energy and good chemistry kept the show alive.

A standout actor was Sam Infantino, with the role of Perseus. He had good comedic timing and was fully involved with the show from start to finish. Persephone, played by Shannon Reid, was another one to remember. In the limited speaking role that she had, Reid did one of the best jobs with having a completely developed character and sticking with that character throughout. As a whole, the ensemble was strong and helped properly portray each different story. Even though some scenes felt rushed through and the audience struggled to differentiate between some characters from scene to scene, the cast was able to portray the myths properly with comedic timing and high levels of energy.

The technical aspects of the show were overall very well done. The set was unique and well used. The hair, makeup and costumes were quirky, which fit the style of this show and added to the creativity involved in creating individual characters. The props where done magnificently and enhanced the production with great versatility on stage. Other technical aspects, including the sound and lights were well executed. The sound cues done on stage where spot on and allowed for comedic points during the show to be enhanced. Though there where some mishaps during the show, it didn’t not phase the actors and the show went on.

The St. Thomas Aquinas High School production of “Circus Olympus” was inspired and creative. We know for a fact that there was no clowning around in this production of “Circus Olympus” at St. Thomas Aquinas High School.

*** *** ***

By Natalie Medina of The Sagemont School

In a style similar to Perseus’s rhyming, here’s a poem about a show with great comedic timing: Performing in a tent was a group of Greek geeks, giving a performance that was incredibly unique. Sitting in the corner was the brilliant sound guy, with a guitar and ukulele on standby.

Not even clichés can give this show the proper praise. Yes, I know this rhyming isn’t cool, but there are better poems and a great show at Saint Thomas Aquinas High School.

“Circus Olympus” is an epistolary-styled play written by the popular playwright, Lindsey Price. Although there are none of the usual circus attractions, there is a band of Greek geeks ready to share the ancient myths of Greece through comedic portrayals of gods and exaggerated character choices.

The ringleader should always have one of the strongest impressions on the circus floor, and this production was no exception. Commanding the stage as the leader of the Greek Geeks was Merve (Greg Telasco). Telasco gave a very comedic and prominent performance as he strode across the stage, towering over everyone with his oversized, brightly colored bowtie. His narrations were clear, and when he became a part of the anecdotes, he had a very distinguished character shift.

The entire ensemble of Greek Geeks had high energy that persisted throughout act one, and for the entirety of act two. All members had good chemistry with one another, and for the most part had excellent comedic timing. The over-dramatic portrayals of characters added a level of surrealism, but still could have had more character development to support their performances.

Coming on stage as a part of the cast, but having the job of a crewmember was the multitalented Brian Sayre. Sayre stayed on stage, surrounded by a myriad of musical instruments and other sound-producing props, to create all the background music and sound effects of the show. He was constantly switching his ukulele to a guitar, his slide-whistle to a kazoo, his maracas back to his ukulele, and just kept going back and forth. His impressive undertaking of such a complicated task was very commendable.

There are no elephants on bicycles, and no, it is not Cirque du Soleil, but Saint Thomas Aquinas High School’s production of “Circus Olympus” is definitely a show worth attending.

*** *** ***

By Dylan Jost of North Broward Preparatory School

Fernando Botero, an artist and sculptor, once said “The circus leaves a sweet memory.” St. Thomas Aquinas High School’s highly enjoyable and superbly executed production of “Circus Olympus” truly did leave a sweet memory etched into the minds of the audience members.

Written by Lindsay Price, author of more than 60 plays, “Circus Olympus” tells the story of a troupe of traveling actors and performers. When the time comes to set up their tent once again, they perform a series of Greek myths in a comical manner, operating as a circus of sorts. These Greek Geeks, as they are called, each play various roles including, but not limited to, Zeus, Demeter, Hades, and Athena. Utilizing a variety of costumes, props, and other gags, the Greek Geeks transport their audience to the world of Greek mythology.

Acting as the narrators of these myths were Merve (Gregory Telasco) and Ishy (Samara Chahine), both of whom also played additional characters in the wide array of myths performed by the troupe. Telasco masterfully portrayed Merve as the leader of the troupe, adding levels of character nuance through his strong diction and projection. Telasco’s hard work was evident in his commendable comedic timing, clear character development, and comical reactions to others on stage. Chahine also delivered an admirable performance as Ishy, displaying exuberance through her use of vibrant facial expressions. Chanine used spunk and moxie to give her character a little something extra, distinguishing her from the rest of the cast.

Osina, played by Alexa Hui, added an extra level of comedy and energy to the play. Hui brought the quality of ebullience to the stage, always staying in character as she deftly maneuvered from myth to myth. Two performances that must be mentioned are those of Shannon Reid as Persephone and Bianca Brutus as Demeter, her mother. Both actresses brought the audiences to tears of laughter, mainly due to their commitment to their characters. Both Reid and Brutus must be commended for making bold character choices that ultimately added to effectiveness of their portrayals.

The technical aspects of the show complemented the actors beautifully. The sound cues, performed onstage by Brian Sayre, were exquisitely timed, not detracting at all from what was happening elsewhere onstage. Props and costumes were ingeniously selected for this show, providing the actors with the tools necessary to put on a performance of this high caliber.

As a whole, the Greek Geeks of “Circus Olympus” filled the theatre with their seemingly never ending energy throughout the entire show. As an actor, it can sometimes be a challenge to consistently remain in character, yet this was a challenge that these actors conquered almost effortlessly. Although diction could have been improved at times, this was made up for by the incredible spirit and stamina of the cast.

St. Thomas Aquinas High School truly brought the circus to town in their laugh-filled production of “Circus Olympus”. With compelling performances, laudable technical aspects, and quippy dialogue, “Circus Olympus” proved to be an entertaining venture into the vast world of Greek mythology.

*** *** ***

By Alex Wind of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

The most popular and well-known creation stories come from Greek mythology; stories like Pandora’s Box, King Midas, and Perseus and Medusa. All of these teach lessons and instill strong moral principles unto people. So, come one, come all to hear these memorable stories told in St. Thomas Aquinas High School’s production of “Circus Olympus.”

Written by Lindsay Price, “Circus Olympus” follows the Greek Geeks, a traveling circus troupe whose specialty lies in the storytelling of Greek myths and legends, but this is not a traditional circus. You won’t find elephants on bicycles or clowns running rampant, but instead, you will find zany and wacky actors who love depicting the stories of Grecian Gods and Goddesses and the trials and tribulations of Grecian citizens from times long ago. As the plot unravels, new love flourishes, eavesdropping occurs, and after a cast member seems to be missing, someone is given the daunting task of wearing the dreaded grape suit!

Gregory Telasco’s (Merve) stage presence and booming vocals aided in his portrayal of the magical and fantastical Merve. He skillfully moved the plot along with ease as the ringleader of the absurd circus. Samara Chahine (Ishy) equally impressed with her astute and dignified performance through clear diction and high-octane energy, which she maintained throughout the entire production. Alexa Hui (Osina) embodied the dim-witted and somewhat materialistic character perfectly as she fell in love with James Lawlor’s Manso.

As the story unfolds, many actors portray different characters within the show in a series of vignettes. Some stand out actors were Bianca Brutus, Jason Pietrafetta, and Michael Ryder (Demeter, Hermes, and Hades, respectively). All characters displayed impeccable comedic timing whether it was Brutus’ over-the-top humor, Pietrafetta’s dry wit, or Ryder’s lisp. Another standout, Sam Infantino (Perseus) captured the rhyming hero exquisitely, making every joke better than the last and loading each line with purpose and emotion.

Altogether, the ensemble cooperated to create the rambunctious and boisterous atmosphere of the circus olympus. Each actor remained in character at all times while onstage and also sustained high energy through both acts of the play. A wonderful technical aspect of the show was that the sound effects were actually done on stage by one student, Brian Sayre. Sayre played the guitar, ukulele, and an assortment of other gizmos and gadgets to create a realistic atmosphere. The vibrant costumes done by Lara Jimenez and Jacqueline Miller immensely added to the characters and showed their personalities. They also showed distinction in a sort of hierarchy with Merve’s costume being reminiscent of the classic circus ringleader, displaying his position. The makeup, done by Sophie O’Sullivan and Co. effectively conveyed the Greek Geeks as flashy, flamboyant circus performers.

As St. Thomas Aquinas High School’s production of “Circus Olympus” closes up shop, the mythical stories told will be deeply embedded in minds for all eternity.

*** *** ***

By Jade Carey of Piper High School

When the circus comes into town, most people expect acrobats, magicians, dancers, even an elephant on a bicycle. But in St. Thomas Aquinas High School’s rendition of “Circus Olympus,” the reveal is something far from the norm. Circus Olympus by Lindsay Price, follows a group of actors, known as the “Greek Geeks,” as they tell stories of Greek mythology. Throughout the play characters from famous Greek stories such as Pandora’s Box and King Midas, are brought to life in this circus through colorful costumes, sets, and high energy.

The students of St. Thomas Aquinas High School brought their characters to life as they performed each scene on stage. Bianca Brutus, through her portrayal of the goddess Demeter in “Demeter vs. the Underworld,” did a great job of capturing the frantic tone a mother has when losing a daughter, while having hilarious facial expressions and actions that tied it all together. Jason Pietrafetta portrayed the hysterical Hermes through the stories of “Demeter vs. the Underworld” and “Perseus and Medusa,” with great comedic timing and amusing one-liners. Sam Infantino brought a vibrant, animated tone to the character Perseus in the story of “Perseus and Medusa” with great energy. Gregory Telasco and Samara Chahine, as Merve and Ishy respectively, did an amazing job of narrating the stories and helping to move each scene along. The ensemble of the “Greek Geeks” delivered an energetic and exuberant performance throughout the play. The use of the stage along with lively expressions, great chemistry, and interaction with the audience, helped to portray the chaotic scene of how a circus can be. Between each scene, the actors were able to transition into their different roles smoothly often with changes of voices, mannerisms, and costumes. Even when not the center of attention, the actors did an amazing job of keeping in character to set the mood of each scene. Although the actors did a great job of putting in a lot of energy to portray their characters, at some points, the performers tended to over exaggerate, which made some scenes feel forced and took away from comical moments. At certain times, the high volume and fast pace talking made it difficult to hear lines said by performers, yet it did help to add vibrancy and enthusiasm to each scene. Even though the stage was used thoroughly, some actors were blocked, and their facial expressions and body language were not able to be properly seen.

The set and use of props helped to set the mood of an actual circus. The lighting between the transition of scenes was amazing and was done smoothly. The use of different colors such as red and yellow helped to distinguish different scenes within the play. The costumes seemed a bit disjointed, but were still able to capture the lively personalities of each character with bright colors and patterns. The use of live sound by Brian Sayre was an amazing choice as it brought a different element to the play and helped the portrayal of the circus seem more authentic. The use of sounds from a guitar to even a thin sheet of metal to make the sound of thunder was great and had amazing timing.

All in all, St. Thomas Aquinas Hugh School’s production of “Circus Olympus” was a dynamic experience, filled with amazing storytelling and hilarious moments.

*** *** ***

Reviews of It Can’t Happen Here at South Plantation High School on Saturday, 11/18/2017.

By Dylan Redshaw of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

“Blessed are those who don’t think they have to go out and do something about it!” Discussing many righteous messages such as this, South Plantation High School’s captivating production of “It Can’t Happen Here” incorporates well executed American Sign Language and significant political truths that continue to resonate with the American people today.

Originally written as a novel in 1935 when fascism in Europe was on the rise, Sinclair Lewis’ darkly satirical play “It Can’t Happen Here” imagines the hypothetical election of the authoritarian president named Buzz Windrip who promises to return the country to greatness. Windrip’s presidency results in a social upheaval, witnessed by disapproving newspaper editor and political activist, Doremus Jessup. The cautionary tale contains shrewd parallels to recent historical events, that emphasize the fragility of government, and argues for free speech as a basic foundation in democracy.

Leading the show as the strongly opinionated liberal editor, Doremus Jessup, Grace Emery commanded the stage exceptionally, exuding an air of confidence as she fervently fought for social justice against a rising fascist ruler. Through her clear choices and ceaseless charisma, Emery was able to deliver a refined growth between act one and two that ideally reflected her headstrong character’s dismal outcome. Doremus’ intellectual lover and co-conspirator, Lorinda Pike, was portrayed by Yasmin Rocha with bold characterization and admirable maturity. Rocha constantly expressed versatile levels that effectively amplified the authenticity of the show. Curtis Dodgen as the outspoken presidential candidate, Buzz Windrip, provided a realistic and uneasy comedy, most notable in his dominating campaign sequence. Dodgen consistently kept up the politician’s manipulative demeanor through his animated physicality and powerful inflections.

The American Sign Language interpreters excellently mirrored their speaking counterparts throughout every scene, presenting a unique approach to live theater. Despite the occasional lack of genuine expression, the ensemble brought side interpretations to a whole new level with their strikingly distinct mannerisms and exuberant facial expressions. Doremus’ interpreter, Carolyn Kean, gave a noteworthy performance as she expressed Doremus’ profound emotions entirely through her heightened reactions and passionate movements.

From the favorably intimate staging to the compelling, symbolic set pieces, the production’s technical elements contributed immensely to the evident 1930s atmosphere. Sound, by Ramses Ascanio, enhanced the intense mood with subtle, yet chilling, patriotic transition music between each scene. The intricate costumes, by Tiernan Ramer, were time-period appropriate and altogether helped to establish each character’s role in society. Overall, the cast and crew used the stage impeccably to create picturesque images that emphasized thrilling moments and forcefully conveyed their empowering central message.

South Plantation High School’s production of “It Can’t Happen Here” was truly thought-provoking, offering a new perspective to a multitude of audiences.The students should take pride in their immense accomplishment of merging deaf culture and theatrics with the complicated world of politics

*** *** ***

Reviews of Higher Power at Saint John Paul II Academy on Saturday, 11/11/2017.

By Taylor Briesemeister of The Sagemont School

Thirteen of “Earth’s finest” have gathered here today due to the divination of a second chance at the end of the world – at least they’re surrounded by deli meat. Saint John Paul II Academy’s “Higher Power” burned and sedated the question: what will come of judgement day?

Bradley Walton spent seven long years trying to make it as a comic book writer and an artist until he finally decided to be a playwright. “Higher Power” was released in 2009 and has went on to be primarily performed in schools across the United States. Walton’s most proud writings have been published by companies such as Image Comics, Desperado Publishing, Caliber Comics, Basement Comics, and Brooklyn Publishers.

The stone-cold, super human prophet that comes to be known as “Nevermore” (Sabrina Benson), gave a mysterious performance as we come to find out that she is the very reason these all-powerful beings have come together. It becomes clear that not all heroes wear capes, but not all who wear capes are heroes. Nevermore goes on to point out that everyone in that room was given a chance to improve the world and not a single one of them, including herself, did anything to utilize that power to their full potential. Several cures for cancer have slipped through their fingers and now nobody will ever know what dolphins have to say.

Blake Earl created a relatable and comedic character as Mel, who tried to help us figure out just what in the world was going on. Although some characters were listening with the intent to respond rather than to react and understand, Earl reacted to just about everything on stage, making his presence amusing. A noteworthy, animal print covered comedic actress was none other than Sarah Vilcnik, who maintained a consistent and entertaining performance as Critter. Critter gave life and astonishment to the simple things for the Baltimore Butt Bashers and lead us to the conclusion that the meaning of life is 42. Who knew? Most of the cast members could have improved their diction but nonetheless, the story was carried out with energy and a longing for the unknown.

As for creativity, Audriana Harrypersad took this Viking by the horns and commendably student directed this entire production. Costumes had room for a bit more experimentation and personalization but every person was apt for their character.

Not even a flight along the east coast could aid in locating a group quite like this one. “Higher Power” concludes with many unanswered questions and shined a light on who the real higher power was. Now that felicitations and sandwiches have been given, that’ll be $1.28.

*** *** ***

By Kali Clougherty of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Boom! Boom! Pow! The asteroid fizzled out, wow! Giving people super human powers, but the question is how? It’s 10 years to the date. Hurry up, it’ll be too late! Nevermore called them to the room, to determine all of their dooms. Saint John Paul II Academy’s performance was everything but sour in their production of the play Higher Power!

Higher Power, a play about society’s reactions in the face of imminent destruction, challenged the ideas of what is classified as good or evil in the eyes of God. The telepathic proprietor Nevermore rallies up the local superhumans of Baltimore, Maryland at “ground zero,” otherwise known as Mel’s Diner, to witness the coming of a “higher power.” Inspired by Star Wars, Aquaman, and an array of comic book plots, writer Bradley Walton composed a unique piece of theatre that relates to all ages.

Sabrina Benson portrayed the mysteriously compelling Nevermore, exercising her power of telepathy to control the minds of her inferiors. From her glaring eyes to her dark features, Benson boldly characterized a villainous disposition. In the midst of chaos, the standout near normal human Mel, played by Blake Earl, served as a comedic relief throughout the dark story. Earl’s quick witted comments and clear characterization brought a heightened sense of realism to the production.

Supporting characters Mystic Bob (John Douglas) and Critter (Sarah Vilcnik) displayed distinct personalities from their fellow superhumans, truly flaunting their “mojo.” Although some characters lacked the ability to stay in the moment, Douglas and Vilcnik managed to steal the spotlight with their side interactions. Despite for the overall energy deficiency, Sue (Kaleigh Krolikowski) made up for it in her unexpected entrance in Act 2. Krolikowski manifested a visible conception of a mental patient, enhanced by wild hair and bulging eyes.

Taking on the challenging task of student director, Audriana Harrypersad’s vision was clear and executed admirably. Harrypersad’s obvious commitment was displayed through thoughtful characterization and scene blocking, allowing each actor to uniquely stand out. Not only did Harrypersad have her hands full in directing a two act play, she also fully contributed to the costuming alongside Sarah Vilcnik. Fully fitting to the personality of each character, the costumes accentuated the overall mood, equally adding to comedy and dramatics of the play.

In the end, it is not the powers who make heroes, but instead the heroes who make powers. Take advantage of your gifts to make a difference in the lives around you, for Judgement Day is upon us. Saint John Paul II Academy truly displayed the “meaning of life” in their heroic rendition of Higher Power.

*** *** ***

By Nicole Sugarman of J.P. Taravella High School

The asteroid hurtling towards the Earth could have had fatal effects. Yet, instead of obliterating all of humankind, the catastrophic celestial body disintegrated into nothing. Saint John Paul II Academy’s production of “Higher Power” presents a look into Mel’s Diner, the location that would have been Ground Zero had the asteroid struck, and displays how life looks ten years after the world’s near end.

Written by Bradley Walton, a former comic book writer and artist, “Higher Power” examines the imperfections of humanity in an amusing manner. In this dark comedy set in Baltimore, Maryland, it is discovered that after the almost-tragic incident ten years prior, a number of people gained superhuman powers. Some developed telepathic powers, superhuman strength, light powers, telekinetic abilities, and Roz could talk to fish. The smattering of people who acquired powers are summoned to Mel’s Diner by the mysterious being, Nevermore. Today they are meeting…for their judgement.

Portraying the enigmatic entity Nevermore, the one being with the ability to speak directly into the minds of those who attained powers after the odd occurrence, Sabrina Benson completely embodied the character’s all-knowing aura and exuded a confidence about herself. Benson dominated the stage and created a sturdy foundation for the play to build upon. Playing Mel, the Diner’s owner, Blake Earl developed a believable character through his often clever commentary and natural acting ability.

Roz, the “worthless fish chick,” was portrayed by Nicole Sous. Her hilariously dry sense of humor and un-impressed attitude in regards to her “fish talent” assisted in building a likeable and enjoyable character. The Baltimore Butt Bashers, composed of Mystic Bob, Psychedelia, and Critter, added an additional layer of entertainment to the production through their goofy remarks and impeccable comedic timing. The three performers developed distinct and unique personas, seizing every opportunity they were given for an amusing moment.

Although occasionally lacking energy, the cast seemed to hold a strong understanding of the subject matter discussed in the production, tackling tough themes such as religion and the questioning of God’s existence. Some of the actors’ movements seemed slightly artificial and unmotivated. However, the cast did a commendable job staying present within the scene and reactive to their surroundings.

The costuming in the show was very reflective of each character, such as Critter’s animal-print clad costume and Nevermore’s leather get-up with her velvety purple cape. Providing direction for this production, Senior, Audriana Harrypersad did an incredible job handling the instruction of her peers and with the overall execution of her vision.

Saint John Paul II Academy’s “out-of-this-world” production teeming with heroes, villains, Butt Bashers, and fish telepaths, explores the faults of even those who appear to be in the elite sector of society. The cast of “Higher Power” presented a fantastic evening of theatre “booming” with superhuman-sized fun!

*** *** ***

By Eva Daskos of The Sagemont School

Do you hear abstract voices in your head? Are they fish related? If so, you will find Saint John Paul II Academy’s production of Higher Power particularly relatable. With comical characters and a thought-provoking plot, Higher Power invites the audience to a super-powered production.

Set in present day Baltimore our story zooms in on Mel, played by Blake Earl, and his quiet diner, that is suddenly disrupted by a meeting of super humans. Higher Power started as an original play by Bradley Walton in 2009, and thanks to its recent publishing it contains controversial topics such as religion and character flaws we still discuss today.

Leader of the super humans and commander of stage, Sabrina Benson, Nevermore, did a beautiful job representing her stoic and suspenseful roll. While other characters could relieve themselves on stage with comic intervals, Benson kept her straight-faced seriousness alive and thriving. Her role provided the depth and seriousness of the dark comedy which structured the entire plot. Her acting was precise and aligned with her character perfectly, whenever Benson spoke all eyes were drawn to her as she stole the stage.

Mel, the owner of the diner, played the role of the audience as he reacted to strange and unknown things happening around him. Blake Earl, his actor, used his charmingly funny dialogue to bring a sense of believability to the show and reinforced the complicated relationship between super humans and normal people. His precise in-time reactions and investment in every scene made Earl’s character extremely believable. Some of the colorful characters entering his diner were the Baltimore Butt Bashers, whose over the top dialogue was further improved by their commitment to roles and characterization. The basher that stood out the most was Critter, played creatively by Sarah Vilcnik. Vilcnik’s embodiment of Critter’s laid-back and unique personality always left a silly spark on stage that made up for other character’s un-enthusiasm.

Creativity by Audriana Harrypersad was stunningly shown through the creativity board. Audition forms, Critique sheets, and cast lists were all provided for cappies to examine, it was evident that Harrypersad was extremely dedicated to this production, even keeping a personal day-to-day journal about problems and rehearsals. Some of her roadblocks included Hurricane Irma, sports and other extra-curricular factors that made rehearsing harder, and a low budget provided by the school. The actors and tech crew jumped over these hurdles in order to create a successful show. Publicity also showed how actors promoted their show through social media, showing cappies how much the show meant to them.

The overall level of difficulty and outside problems were smashed and flown-over by Saint John Paul II’s actors and tech crew. Higher Power brings its compelling plot and lovable characters, Saint John Paul II brings its experienced actors and commitment, they both bring an unforgettable, electrifying experience.

*** *** ***

By Gabriela Coutinho of American Heritage School

A cross hangs on the wall of the theater as lights go up on a deli – and the next generation of actors and modern disciples of Catholicism artfully discussing free will, responsibility, and God’s interrelationships and roles from multiple perspectives in the context of twenty-first century America. With superhumans, a fish-talker, a militant, a deli owner, some flutter of deep purple cape, and bagels, what could go wrong? In the often funny and provocative play Higher Power, Saint John Paul II’s students took personal, worldly, and spiritual themes’ exploration into their own hands.

Written by lesser known playwright Bradley Walton, Higher Power unfolds ten years into the miraculously avoided apocalypse. Superhumans meet in “Mel’s Deli” at ‘ground zero’ – where an asteroid would have hit – upon summons from an omniscient, omnipotent woman. While she observes her subjects’ reactions to free will, the notions of “higher power” and responsibility extract their ironically human flaws and sentiments. Facing a hefty challenge, the high schoolers sometimes neglected the high stakes of impending doom but nonetheless rose to the occasion with balanced yet diverse characters and respect in the play’s metaphor for ‘Judgement Day’ from Revelation.

Symbolically portraying God as “Nevermore”, Sabrina Benson’s unfazed and solemn interpretation of divinity interestingly contrasted with the other characters and impacted the final “revelation”. As Mel (owner of the deli for the momentous meeting), Blake Earl’s committed presence, realistic stage business, and believable interactions with both set and characters not only provided grounded ‘normality’ for audiences, but also comedic relief. Mixed with Roz’s (Nicole Sous) cynicism and Colleen’s (Katrina Ybanez) pain, the first to arrive had already fostered a comically tense environment.

Offering a more “chill” approach, Baltimore Butt Bashers – namely Critter (Sarah Vilcnik) with her deep connection to animals – drew laughs and later ensued conflict, especially when “Higher Power” soldiers entered. These two ensembles appropriately juxtaposed through “essence, dude” and kept Act I fun and light, while General Rath’s (played by Madison DiJoseph) detached, harsh disposition made her the perfect symbolic character to face judgement. Despite painting two featured roles, Kaleigh Krolikowski’s Act II monologue as manipulated, suffering, and remorseful Sue filled the space with raw human empathy and despair.

Being the school’s first student directed play, Audriana Harrypersad’s work set an exciting precedent for theatre’s future at the school. Even involved in set and costume design, her extensive notations translated into a smooth performance utilizing the stage well and playing with the notion of a physical barrier between the soldiers and ‘hippies’ with each group on its respective stage side. Overall, the blocking facilitated higher energy levels and confrontations. Accurate and practical, the costumes enhanced the characters’ personas. Thankfully, students certainly knew of the show due to the artwork featured on a big poster at the school’s entrance.

Tackling hubris and other faults when wielding “higher power” in irresponsible, selfish, aloof, or unauthorized fashions, actors and crew members at Saint John Paul II trespassed the line of typical secondary school topics and expressed their beliefs through art while pondering others. Satiring extremes within society and its detrimentally obstinate and self-interested nature, this play compelled audiences to reflect on their own lives, treating each blessing or responsibility with open minds, respect, philanthropy, honesty, and faith in oneself – rather than solely relying on a “higher power”.

*** *** ***

Reviews of The Importance of Being Earnest at Cardinal Gibbons High School on Saturday, 11/04/2017.

By Ananda Espinal of Deerfield Beach High School

While everyone may admit to not being what they seem, an entirely different situation arises when one pretends to be what they are not. Double lives and alternate identities seem ridiculous, but happen to be the main theme of Cardinal Gibbon’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest!

The Importance of Being Earnest, written by Oscar Wilde in 1895, is an English Farce play that received its first performance at the St. James’s Theatre in London. Despite it’s initial success, Wilde’s imprisonment for homosexuality led to this play having only 83 performances. The Importance of Being Earnest, set in 1895, follows two men, Algernon Moncrieff and John Worthing as they admit to both living double lives in order to avoid their societal responsibilities. However, when both these men eventually impersonate the false identity of one Earnest Worthing, they find themselves in hilarious situations as their respective brides to be are also thrown into the mix.

At the front of the show were the two male leads, Spencer Knight as Algernon Moncrieff and Matthew Brodrick as John “Earnest” Worthing. The seamless interactions between these two characters was especially heightened by their extravagant body language and childish roughhousing. Furthermore, their dynamic as a trouble-maker and a nervous character showed a typical and relatable relationship. Spencer Knight’s execution of Algernon’s character was very convincing in his confident body language and suave tone.

The supporting cast was extremely entertaining and absolutely talented in their chemistry with the two leads. The engaged women, Tiffany Pettus as Gwendolen Fairfax and Kelly Harris as Cecily Cardew, were not only notable in their relationships with their respective fiances, but also excellently fulfilled their roles as a sophisticated, high-class woman or as a young, naive girl. Additionally, Emily Tallman phenomenally executed the role of Lady Bracknell, not only with her screeching voice and commanding tone, but also her scowling facial expressions.

The featured cast was plentiful in appearance and in talent, flowing around the more vocal cast and especially adding to the play’s humor in several smaller aspects, creating an overall positive and hilarious experience. Especially notable is the character of Merriman played by Hannah Eichholtz, who was not written with the intention of being comic, yet was executed with a hilarious appearance, significant body language, and ever-present limp wrists.

Additionally, while the tech was overall very impressive with its use of background noise and music, there were small moments that occurred that disrupted the play’s flow. These events included a small mistake with the mics and backstage could be heard, the piano music suddenly cutting off, and the background water noise being a bit too loud and distracting.

Thus, Cardinal Gibbon High School’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest was extremely professional with its excellent cast, and, despite some tech mistakes, succeeded in portraying a humorous and outrageous portrayal of strange situations in 1895 London.

*** *** ***

By Rita Wojitas of St. Thomas Aquinas High School

What’s the big deal about the name Earnest? To Gwendolen Fairfax and Cecily Cardew, the name Earnest represents everything they could want in a husband. However, this presents a fundamental problem for their prospective lovers John Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, neither of whom are named Earnest. Cardinal Gibbons High School takes on this timeless story in their own creative production of The Importance of Being Earnest, ultimately revealing an important message regarding societal values in 19th century London.

First written in 1895 by renowned playwright Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest is an acclaimed play known for its witty dialogue and surprising depth. It originally debuted at the St. James Theatre in London, where it ran for 83 performances, and has also been adapted into nine Broadway plays and three separate movies. Cardinal Gibbons’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest certainly did not disappoint, in which the costumes were beautifully designed, the actors were confident in their portrayals, and the housekeepers brought a comedic aspect to the plot.

The play follows Jack Worthing, an important member of his community, who also happens to be harboring a secret regarding his identity. For years he has pretended to have an irresponsible younger brother named Earnest, whom he uses as a reason to disappear for days at a time. To his ward, Cecily Cardew, he is Jack; however, to the glamorous members of London society, he is Earnest. His dishonest system has worked well for him in the past; however, as he plans to propose to his love Gwendolyn Fairfax, he must face the truth about his real name, releasing a myriad of problems and antics in the process.

For a relatively small cast, the Cardinal Gibbons actors brought a powerful presence to the stage in their confident and hilarious portrayals of their respective characters. Spencer Knight’s performance as Algernon Moncrieff was especially commendable. He had great comedic timing and impressive endurance, even acting with a believable British accent. Both he and Matthew Brodrick (John Worthing) had great comedic chemistry and were excellent in their witty delivery of many lines.

Additionally, Emily Tallman was notable in her portrayal of Lady Bracknell, whom she played with great poise and assurance, often stealing her scenes with her ruthless dialogue and hilarious delivery. The ensemble of housekeepers consistently brought a lightheartedness to the scenes.

The costumes, designed by Alexandra Cassis, were an especially consistent and beautiful aspect of the show, and allowed Cardinal Gibbons to successfully transport its audience back to the 19th century for a few hours. Although there seemed to be technical issues at some points, all in all, Cardinal Gibbons succeeded in its rendition of The Importance of Being Earnest, boldly bringing to life the hilarious dialogue with its talented actors and crew.

Despite its light-hearted banter, the play left a lasting message about the trivial aspects of marriage present 100 years ago. Today, unlike Gwendolyn and Cecily, we value character a little bit more than names – I hope.

*** *** ***

By Audri Harrypersad of Saint John Paul II Academy

“The truth is rarely pure and never simple” in Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest,” a farcical play which was written and first performed for a short time in 1895, London, England, before being revived numerous times and making its way to Broadway. The show centralizes around protagonists, John Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, two relatively well-to-do bachelors who rely on deception and various forms of “bunburrying” to escape the duties and expectations of their lifestyles in the Victorian era.

In Cardinal Gibbons’ rendition of this well known comedic play, muffins and tea cake flew just as easily as the slapstick humor consistent throughout the play. Spencer Knight, casted as Algernon Moncrieff (and at times Earnest), presented a great deal of the comedic moments in the show with his take on Algernon’s blasé attitude about anything serious. His timing and reactions to the happenings around him and chemistry with every character he corresponded with adequately broadened him as a character. He particularly displayed his range when in conversation with his aunt, Lady Bracknell, played by Emily Tallman. Through her interpretation of an outrageous high socially ranking woman of Victorian times, she contrasted as well as complimented Algernon with her strict adherence to the culture of their day while playing to the farcical essence of her lines. While she would ramble on, Algernon would present his boredom as an aside which was an interesting acting choice to extract laughs from the audience.

An unlikely ensemble of maids dusted this show with more comedic relief than initially intended while flouncing about stage and at times acting as the stage crew. They acted well as a unit to provide an additional comedic element not written into the original script. Though they had funny moments, at times their presence was distracting from the canonical dialogue in certain scenes.

Costumes in this show were mostly period exact. Some, being student made, exhibited close attention to detail while other aspects of attire seemed less thought out. Lady Bracknell’s dresses as well as John Worthing’s suits were the two stand out costume sets as they exemplified colors and styles popular in 19th century London.

“The Importance of Being Earnest,” is a very difficult work of theatre but Cardinal Gibbons’ actors and technical crew tackled it with a level of maturity to produce a must-see performance. Though deception was a central theme in the play, in the end the tea was spilled and the truth came out and Cardinal Gibbons was able to teach us the vital importance of being earnest!

*** *** ***

By Alyssa Moore of Saint John Paul II Academy

Marriage, money, and muffins were the focus of this satirical play. If you are interested in seeing a slapstick show then “The Importance of Being Earnest” is definitely a must see.

The play was first performed at the St. James’s theatre, in London. on February 14th, 1895. It was written by Oscar Wilde, who was a well-known for his writings on whichever were the social aspects of the time. The play has been revived several times. The Importance of Being Earnest is a comedic play centered around two men named Algernon Moncrieff and John Worthing. These two created fake identities to detach themselves from their posh lives, but their bunburying way came to an end when two women found out who they really are.

Cardinal Gibbons’ performance of this farcical play turned the well-known show into a pleasurable performance to watch. Though many actors displayed their commitment to their characters, others seemed less motivated and disconnected. Many of the actors displayed authentic British accents while some dwindled as the play progressed. This high school’s overall liveliness of the classic show remained in tack during the play.

The consistent energy from Spencer Knight, who successfully played the role of Algernon Moncrieff, had an engaging role through his hilarious rhetoric. He portrayed his character’s nonchalant attitude very well through his comedic timing and the chemistry he had with each character. Knight’s connections to other actors were especially displayed during his scenes with Matthew Brodrick, who was casted as John Worthing. The duo’s brotherly banter was authentic and engaging. Emily Tallman’s persona as Lady Bracknell illustrated a fine contrast between the other roles. Bracknell was the aunt to Algernon and had the attitude of a higher ranked woman and whose social standards were close to impossible to reach. Tallman stayed in character throughout the entirety of the show and she successfully made an uptight character entertaining to watch.

The housekeepers, unexpectedly, provided comedic scenes through their whimsical engagements with each other while they were cleaning the house. One housekeeper that stood out was Merriman who was played by Hannah Eichholtz. Though Hannah was not given much to work with, she made the most out of her role and she provided comedic interactions with the fellow actors through her movements and overall attitude.

The students who made the costumes, evidently, did their research into the Victorian era because each piece seemed to fit the period well, and flowed with each character’s personality.

“The importance of Being Earnest” is without a doubt difficult to make unique because it is so well-known, and it has been done several times, but Cardinal Gibbons effectively added their own little twists to it making it an enjoyable show to watch.

*** *** ***

By Shelby Tudor of Somerset Academy

One can fall in love with a guy named Earnest. But what if his name’s not Earnest? Cardinal Gibbons High School shares the farcical work of Oscar Wilde’s, The Importance of Being Earnest. The play follows two men and their attempts to release themselves from social obligations by living double lives. This leads to a comical series of events leading to falling in false accusations and even falling in love. Notably, this was the last play Wilde ever wrote for he was imprisoned for his homosexuality leading to the play lasting 82 days at St. James Theatre. Cardinal Gibbons students’ adaption of this classic surpassed the difficulties of Victorian London language, doing a commendable representation.

The show’s plot was held on a conversation, with little physical action, that the actors shared clearly and welcoming. The cast had great chemistry, bouncing lines and emotions between each other like a tennis ball. They carried themselves with purpose with wonderful posture and distinctive London and country accents that annunciated every line with commendable diction. They’re use of the entire stage and cast mates led for a fun, amusing performance.

Talent filled the cast. Spencer Knight, playing Algernon Moncrieff was engaging in every scene he was in, filling every line and action with charisma and silly gestures. His boldness fit well into Matthew Brodrick’s serious yet passionate character, John “Earnest” Worthing. The two characters had nonstop chemistry that was a wonder to watch. Especially when it came to woo-ing their female counterparts.

A crowd stopper came in the form of Emily Tallman, who took over the stage, demanding her voice to be heard with clear diction, and a confident and loud demeanor, as she tries to meddle her way through every relationship.
The makeup design, by Caroline Aristizabal wonderfully captures the age of the characters. The costumes were intricately hand made by the costume team, Alex Cassis, Maria Arevalo and Anna Murray-Campbell. The colorful dresses and ties lovely contrasted with the black and whites of the house-keeping and set, showing that the interesting parts of the story lies with-in the characters.

Some make-up and props weren’t exactly consistent with the time and rest of the show. There were some sounds that didn’t sound correct within the space, and some diction and acting choices weren’t consistent with the proper element of the show. However, scene changes were creatively performed, and there were minimal error compared to the production as a whole. Cardinal Gibbon brought hysterics and great theatrics with their show The Importance of Being Earnest, leaving a statement left in laughter, saying that love always regardless of being earnest and proper.

*** *** ***

Reviews of Fiddler on the Roof at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Saturday, 11/04/2017. >

By Shea Simpson of Archbishop McCarthy High School

Shalom! Welcome to the town of Anatevka, a small shtetl where tradition is broken, matches are made, and rabbis pray over sewing machines. “As the good book says,” Marjory Stoneman Douglas triumphantly presented this “Miracles of Miracles”, bringing to life a traditional piece of classic theatre.

Inspired by Sholem Aleichem’s “Tevye and His Daughters,” Fiddler on the Roof first premiered on Broadway in 1964, running for a successful 10 years. Due to the production’s massive success, the show has been revived five times and was made into a film adaptation in 1971. Taking place in imperialistic Russia, Fiddler on the Roof tells the story of Tevye, a poor Jewish milkman who firmly believes in the power of maintaining tradition. However, those morals are soon tested as his three eldest daughters wish to marry for love, each one slowly straying further away from what is customary of their faith.

Stoneman Douglas left no technical detail untouched, from their minimalistic yet effective and time appropriate set to every tzitzit suspended from the men’s waists. Every light cue played an important role in creating scenic ambiance, whether it was the bright, singular spotlight illuminating one of Tevye’s numerous monologues or the dark, ominous amber wash over the somber Anatevka evacuation scene.

Playing the iconic father figure, Alex Wind did a commendable job portraying the loving yet conflicted main character. His monologues were executed seamlessly and his sharp comedic timing did not falter, particularly highlighted in his hilarious rendition of “If I Were a Rich Man.” Also giving a believable and whimsical performance was Sawyer Garrity as Tevye’s wife Golde, the unerring voice of reason and strength in the family. Her quick wit and outstanding vocals were showcased in numbers like “Sabbath Prayer” and “Do You Love Me.” Wind and Garrity had an organic chemistry on stage, bringing the celebrated and theatrical duo to life.

With a cast of over 30 students, there was never a lackluster moment on stage. In the large ensemble numbers such as “Tradition” and “To Life,” each actor put enormous energy into their complex choreography and harmonious singing. Their enthusiasm and technique was evident throughout the performance, brandishing talents in scenes such as the iconic bottle dance. Each villager and Russian contributed to this success, making for an engaging performance filled with laughter and admiration.

Stoneman Douglas undoubtedly presented this captivating musical effortlessly, putting on a show “laden with happiness and tears.” Through their authentic rendition, the actors gave a worthy performance, leaving audience members cheering “Mazel Tov” for an incredible job well done!

*** *** ***

By Korinna Perez-Nunez of Palm Beach Central High School

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s production of the critically acclaimed classic, “Fiddler on the Roof,” was a timeless piece that showed off culture, love, acceptance, and of course, tradition! Fiddler on the Roof was first performed on Broadway in 1964, and has been performed over 3,000 times all over the world. It is most popular because of its story and message. It shows the difficult truths of having to catch up with the world around you. This performance helped capture the aspects of each character and bring their stories to life.

The cast carried the show with their song, dance, and wonderful characterization. Alex Wind played Tevye, a poor Jewish milkman with five daughters who are slowly breaking away from the traditions he holds near and dear to his heart. His portrayal of Tevye was loveable from beginning to end. Between his great vocals and humorous ad lib, his acting throughout the show was wonderful. Sawyer Garrity played Golde, the strong and protective wife of Tevye. Her vocals were beautifully displayed in each of her songs. Her characterization was strong throughout the entire show; each line was expressed with sass, emotion, character, and charm. Kali Clougherty was Hodel, the second eldest daughter of Golde and Tevye. Her performance was wonderful and showed off her talent. She played Hodel very well and showcased her amazing voice. She was able to show the transformation of the character, you could tell she really understood her character arc.

Other actors in the show also added great characterization and made the show memorable. Bailey Feuerman’s Yente stole the show with her comedic relief. Her characterization was flawless and delivered her lines wonderfully. The Rabbi, played by John Barnitt was another role that shined through. His character’s wisdom and humor helped bring the show extra joy. The ensemble had excellent choreography that was executed well. They could’ve had more energy during the dance numbers, but their rhythm made the routines enjoyable.

The Technical side of the show also deserves its praise. The lighting was beautiful, but a bit distracting at times, throughout the show. It helped set the mood of each scene, and we were never left in the dark. The costumes and makeup were very time appropriate and pleasant to look at. The stage-management was great, and provided quick, quiet, and seamless set changes that made the show run very smooth. The sound was also swell. It was at a perfect volume and everyone was heard.

Overall, Fiddler on the Roof is a very important and emotional piece; it shows how difficult change can be. Each cast and crew member’s dedication can be seen in the finished product. They showed their sense of “Tradition” and made it a very enjoyable performance. This production defiantly captured the feel and purpose of the show.

*** *** ***

By Rebecca Correa of Archbishop McCarthy High School

As Tevye says, “Because of our traditions, we’ve kept our balance for many, many years.” Well, not for long. Come and experience Marjory Stoneman Douglas’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof” that contradicts this statement in an unforgettable way.

Based off of Sholem Aleichem’s “Tevye and His Daughters,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” the Tony award-winning musical, opened in 1964 with great profit and popularity. The storyline takes place in Imperial Russia in the early 1900’s, following Tevye, a poor milkman, in his struggle of maintaining Jewish tradition in his tiny village of Anetevka. Three of Tevye’s five daughters challenge his determination by asking to marry for love, rather than wealth, and go against tradition. Tevye is forced to revisit his morals and decide whether or not to permit his daughters’ happiness in marrying the man of their choice, despite any problems it may provoke in the village.

Leading the show as the loving, fatherly figure was Alex Wind, portraying the role of Tevye. Wind took on this iconic role and personalized it with a lovable personality and intriguing presence, which created a dynamic contrast to when he’s faced with a decision that would challenge all of his morals. In addition to his dramatic moments, Wind also demonstrated a strong comedic timing, which was especially evident in his references to the “Good Book.” Alongside Wind was Sawyer Garrity playing the role of Golde, his wife. Their chemistry throughout the show stole the hearts of many, especially as they sang the song, “Do You Love Me?”. They both showcased their beautiful voices, while staying true to their character.

Both familial and marital relationships served as a strong suit in this production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” The love between Tevye and his daughters is vital to a successful production, and the cast succeeded in establishing a loving and organic connection within the family. On the other hand, one of the marital relationships that stood out amongst the others was between Hodel and Perchik, played by Kali Clougherty and Ethan Kaufman, due to their genuine and consistent connection.

The simple, yet efficient set portrayed the perfect mood when it was displayed through an impactful silhouette, before the show even started. This cue, along with many others, formulated a beautiful effect that set the stage for the iconic story that was to come. Along with the fantastic use of lighting, the use of special effects, such as fog in “The Dream”, also set the proper atmosphere for the scene that was about to take place. Each technical cue was performed adequately, which created a believable aura to the show. Similarly, the stage crew succeeded in moving set pieces quickly and quietly throughout the show, never stealing the attention away from the events taking place. Another commendable technical aspect is the makeup, especially for Yente (Bailey Feuerman) and Grandma Tzeitel (Avery Anger), whose aged makeup was executed flawlessly, adding on to their amazing and consistent physicality and stage presence.

Mazel Tov! Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s commendable production of “Fiddler on the Roof” definitely didn’t need a matchmaker to put together this difficult, yet memorable show.

*** *** ***

By Tori Lobdell of Palm Beach Central High School

Fiddler on the Roof is not only a classic in the world of musical theatre, but across the world, the story and music resonating with anyone who hears or sees it. Majory Stoneman Douglas High School has taken on the feat of doing this traditional show the justice it deserves, and they have done a fabulous job at doing just that. In this show, we enter the village of Anatevka, following a man named Tevye, his family, and others who live there. The story, full of romance, comedy, and chaos, is beautifully illustrated through its music and the close relationship of its characters.

This production enchanted its audience, mainly through the impressive chemistry between the characters. This is extremely important, the show being largely about family and tradition. The most apparent and realistic relationship on stage was between Tevye (Alex Wind) and his family. This stood out the most in the songs “Do You Love Me?” and “Far From the Home I Love.” Golde (Sawyer Garrity) and Tevye’s relationship was clearly demonstrated through their duet in Act 2. They, being married for 25 years, may not have had the spark of young lovers anymore, but an immortal love could be felt between the two actors, which was very impressive. Hodel (Kali Clougherty) and Tevye also had lovely chemistry on stage that could make anyone melt at the sight of. The father-daughter relationship was tangible between the two, and combined with Hodel’s beautiful, sweet voice, it made for a wonderful scene. Out of every actor’s characterization in the show, Yente, played by Bailey Feuerman, stood out the most comedically, and was very impressive in her delivery of her character.

On the other hand, the music in this show is very important to pull off, holding such classic songs, such as “If I Were A Rich Man” and “Tradition.” The ensembles harmonies sounded beautiful and tight. Anyone could tell that there was much work done on singing each part correctly. The vocalists in this production were amazing, especially for the high school level. Choreography is also a huge element in this story, again, tracing back to tradition and culture. Much of ths show was student choreographed by John Barnitt and Isabela Barry. The moves were very well done and true to the show. In some numbers, such as “To Life,” the dancers could have been cleaner, but the talent and moves were there.

The tech work in the production was wonderfully done and did not go unnoticed. The projections onto the screen, especially at the top of the show, were beautiful, and did a great job of reeling in the audience, letting us know that we were about to see something incredible. The lighting, combined with the simplistic set, were something to marvel at. The colors used, along with the technique, created an interesting silouhette effect on the backdrop. Everything seen on stage put the audience right into Anatevka with the characters, making the whole show feel incredibly geniuine.

This classic show has been done thousands of times around the world, and the players at Marjory Stoneman Douglas have done an amazing job of recreating it in their own unique way. The actors, along with the set and lights, were truly enchanting, leaving the audience wanting to give a toast to their own lives. L’Chaim!

*** *** ***

By Celina Pomare of West Broward High School

Once the fiddler on the roof plays the iconic beginning of “tradition”, the lives of Tevye and the village come to life. Fiddler on the Roof shows not only the tradition but also the discrimination they faced. Taking place in the fictional town of Anatevka during the political and social crisis in Russia, the story shows the powerful lesson of staying true to yourself and to your family.

With music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, book by Joseph Stein, they brought to life the story of Tevye and His Daughters by Sholem Aleichem. Later becoming a motion picture in 1971, this story has been in the hearts of so many. Receiving three Tony’s and eight revivals throughout the years, Joseph Stein wrote the story for not one generation, but for the world. With discrimination and persecution against religious groups still happening in 2017, Fiddler on the Roof gives a ray of hope. No matter if, the sun rises or sets, your tradition will live on.

Alex Wind portrayed the powerful and not so rich man Tevye without hesitation and a clear understanding of his characters importance on the lives of those around him. Sawyer Garrity portrayed the passionate mother of five. The pair showed the difficulty of their marriage without making it awkward and unrealistic. The three main daughters where brought to life by Sofie Whitney, Kali Clougherty, and Ashley Paseltiner. When the three sang Matchmaker, their voices harmonized beautifully, while still being able to recognize their voices separately. The town’s matchmaker Yente, played by Bailey Feuerman, had the task of acting as someone way beyond her age. Any time Yente was on stage, Bailey gave the marriage maker a lovable personality.

When the show opens, the clear screen has a graphic that paints on the show’s logo. Painting on the logo gave the feel that they have just painted on their tradition on the world. The performance of Tradition lacked energy in certain parts but overall the execution was well done. Throughout this production, the vocal and dancing ability of the cast displayed. The three daughters Tzeitel, Hodel, and Chava came together in their song Matchmaker. When performing this song each of their vocals had a presence, while still harmonizing beautifully. John Barnitt and Isabela Barry did the choreography of the production; they kept the traditional dancing of the Jewish culture while still making it unique for their production.

The tech team was a huge part of bringing the story to life. Moving huge set pieces with ease, and making the costumes for the Dream scene, they delivered more than expected in a high school. The lights used in the show stayed with the theme they presented in their playbill, using orange and red and their staple lights. Clearly knowing the cues throughout the show, they never missed a beat and made sure the life of the Anatevka came to life.

Tradition will forever live on, the same way Fiddler on the Roof has throughout the years. This production never failed to deliver the true meaning behind this story; we still live in a world were religions are discriminated against. Family, tradition, and the meaning of love where all beautifully portrayed in this production of Fiddler on the Roof.

*** *** ***

Reviews of The Matchmaker at Calvary Christian Academy on Saturday, 11/04/2017.

By Amorie Barton of Pompano Beach High

A tale of finding love through adventure, “The Matchmaker” came to life on stage at Calvary Christian Academy.

“The Matchmaker” by Thornton Wilder, is a classic play with a rich history. Originally performed in 1938 under the name “The Merchant of Yonkers”, the play underwent various incarnations before becoming “The Matchmaker” that we all love today. The 1955 version, which we witnessed on stage, became Wilder’s most popular play at the time, even spawning a 1964 musical remake in the tony-award winning musical “Hello, Dolly!”. The story follows the matchmaker, Dolly Levi, a widow who somehow finds herself involved in everybody else’s affairs as she attempts to find a wife for the rich merchant Horace Vandergelder. From there, a series of wacky events involving mistaken identities, forbidden romance, and adventure ensue until everyone finds their perfect match.

At the shows forefront was Dolly Levi, played by Anna Hopson. Hopson did an excellent job in her title role. She commanded the stage with a refined maturity and was never slow to miss a cue. Her comedic timing and fearless characterization made her an enjoyable sight. Counter to her was the talented Steven Day, who played Horace Vandergelder. Day embodied every aspect of Vandergelder in the physical and mental sense. His mannerisms and physicality on stage were consistently enjoyable and gave a definitive sense of his older age. Day and Hopson surely gave some of the most genuine and believable performances of the night.

Other comedic standouts were Megan Salsamendi, Zoey Boyette, and Ariel Feld who played Irene Malloy, Minnie Fay, and Gertrude, respectively. The dedication that these actors showed to their roles was consistently commendable. Their comedic timing was impeccable and their ability to stay in character even when they weren’t the focus of the scene was admirable.

From a technical perspective, the show ran rather smoothly. The student created set was wonderfully made. Every piece had a purpose and was aesthetically appealing to the eye. However, there were certain choices involving the set that were hard to interpret in regards to things such as established entrances and exits. There were moments when it was hard to determine which way was in and which way was out, but this was only a minor oversight.

The choreography of the play was fantastic. In between scene changes, rather than having the audience wait patiently in silence, comical dance numbers and character interactions would take place so as to distract the audience from the actions happening In the background. Slapstick comedy is not easy to accomplish and there is always the risk that it will fall short, however this was not the case in this production. Comical dance numbers were well rehearsed and well executed making the production an effective farce comedy.

With very minimal errors, Calvary Christian Academy excelled at executing the classic comedy of errors, “The Matchmaker”.

*** *** ***

By Nicole Sugarman of J.P. Taravella High School

With mistaken identities, multiple mixups, and a fair amount of mischief, Calvary Christian Academy’s production of “The Matchmaker” presents a hysterical farce regarding the topics of love and money. Overflowing with unique and animated characters, clever storylines, and stunning technical elements, “The Matchmaker” provides entertainment at its finest quality.

Written by Thornton Wilder, “The Matchmaker” is originally based on John Oxenford’s 1835 one-act farce “A Day Well Spent” which was then expanded into a full-length play entitled “Einen Jux will er sich machen” written by Austrian playwright Johann Nestroy in 1842. In 1938, it was adapted by Wilder into an Americanized comedic version entitled “The Merchant of Yonkers.” Fifteen years later, Wilder rewrote the play and created “The Matchmaker,” a farcical comedy set in the 1880s, in Yonkers, New York. With an old-fashioned sense, this play follows Dolly Levi, a widowed matchmaker who has got her eye on Horace Vandergelder, a sly local merchant who has hired her to find him a match. In 1964, this production was converted into a musical entitled “Hello, Dolly!” Aspects of this musical version were incorporated into Calvary Christian Academy’s stellar production through the use of choreography.

Portraying the irritable Horace Vandergelder, Steven Day completely embodied this grouchy, 60-year-old man through his incredible physicality and constant state of dissatisfaction.

Playing Dolly Levi, the manipulative matchmaker, or “woman who arranges things,” Anna Hopson developed a strong and over-the-top character. Hopson maintained a soaring amount of energy and, due to her varying inflection and smooth vocalization, remained interesting to listen to. Both Day and Hopson did an excellent job aging themselves in their bodies and in their voices, making it easier to believe them as an older man and woman.

Playing Cornelius Hackl, the chief clerk at Mr. Vandergelder’s store yearning for a day off, John Roig developed an animated character and sustained impeccable comedic timing throughout the play. His 17-year-old “partner in crime,” Barnaby Tucker, was brought to life by Juan Mojica. Mojica carried out his hilarious antics superbly, consistently receiving laughs. Roig and Mojica created a great chemistry in their relationship with one another, effortlessly executing their back-and-forth dialogue and actions. Minnie Fay, a worker in Mrs. Molloy’s hat shop, was played by Zoey Boyette. Although in more of a minor role, Boyette remained in the moment without cessation and became a stand-out actress due to her terrific comedic delivery. Playing Miss Flora Van Huysen, a romantic old spinster, Hannah Citelli captured the flightiness of the role exquisitely.

The cast of the production maintained exemplary projection and diction throughout the course of the play, never seeming to waver. All of the performers created distinct and comical characters with unique personalities, keeping the show intriguing. The scene transitions were extremely well-choreographed and done in a timely manner.

The technical elements in this play were flawless. The set was pleasing to the eye and helped to effectively differentiate between the four settings. The costuming, hair, and makeup in this production was befitting to each character as well as the 1880’s time period.

As Barnaby declared at the end of the play, the moral lies in the need for adventure in life. The cast of Calvary Christian Academy’s “The Matchmaker” put on an amusing production with lots of mayhem, mishaps, and an abundance of adventure!

*** *** ***

By Dani Wolfe of J.P. Taravella High School

What happens when you’re hired as a matchmaker but you fall in love with your own client? That’s the basic premise of “The Matchmaker,” a heartwarming romantic comedy that relies on some timeless classic scenarios, such as mistaken identity and accidental meetings. Calvary Christian Academy delivered a brilliant performance of this farce.

The fact that “The Matchmaker” is a show at all is pretty amazing. Thornton Wilder originally wrote the idea as a comedy entitled “The Merchant of Yonkers,” and it opened on Broadway in 1938. Thirty-nine performances later, it closed, labeled a flop. Fifteen years later, Wilder revisited the idea and turned it into “The Matchmaker.” The show was so successful that it became the premise for the musical “Hello, Dolly!”

The matchmaker herself, Dolly Levi, is a widow who finds happiness in finding love for others. Dolly was perfectly portrayed by Anna Hopson, who embodied this humorous character with a lot of heart and warmth. Watching Hopson turn Dolly from an over-the-top and highly energetic woman covering up her loneliness to a person rediscovering what it’s like to be in love was a revelation. Her love interest, Horace Vandergelder, originally hires her to find him a wife. While Dolly immediately is smitten, it takes Horace the entire show to realize she’s the woman for him. Steven Day played Horace, a bitter, older gentleman, with a zest that made his character truly believable. He physically and emotionally took on this man in his 60s, delivering hilarious one-liners flawlessly.

Escalating the comedy were Cornelius Hackl (John Roig) and Barnaby Tucker (Juan Mojica). These two bumbling employees of Horace’s were intent on finding their own love interests and headed to New York City, embarrassing themselves at every turn. When they realize that Horace has also come to New York City and believes they are still at work in Yonkers, they must hide from him, which created great comedic moments and let Roig and Mojica show off their physical acting and allowed Mojica to show off his incredible acrobatic skills.

Megan Salsamendi played Irene Malloy, Hackl’s love interest. She displayed great comedic chops as did Zoe Boyette, portraying her co-worker Minnie Fay. Both characters work in a hat shop and become the object of Hackl’s and Tucker’s affections. The four had some great scenes together as the men tried to woo the women while hiding from their boss.

Stealing every scene she was in was Ariel Feldman as the elderly, stubborn Gertrude. Even when she wasn’t speaking, Feldman would constantly be in character. In one particular scene, she sat at a table, silently speaking into a loaf of bread she had mistaken for a phone while the rest of the scene was going on around her.

Set changes were done quickly and efficiently and were even set to music with beautiful choreography by student Jesse McCoy. Lighting and sound worked well throughout the entire show.

“The Matchmaker” is a comedy with heart as its characters learn that love makes the world go round. Calvary Christian Academy created the perfect “match” between cast and material as they elevated this comedy to a whole new level.

*** *** ***

Reviews of Something Wicked This Way Comes at The Sagemont School on Saturday, 11/04/2017.

By Erin Cary of NSU University School

“Being good is a fearful occupation” in this sleepy Illinois town for 13-year-old boys Jim and Will, but being happy might just save their lives. Come see the circus freaks perform at The Sagemont School’s spine-chilling production of Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Something Wicked This Way Comes is Ray Bradbury’s adaptation, based on his novel of the same name. It premiered in Los Angeles in 2003, produced by Bradbury’s Pandemonium Theatre Company. The show follows the story of two 13-year-old boys, Jim Nightshade and Will Halloway, in a rural Midwestern town and how their lives are dramatically altered by the arrival of a traveling circus. This mix between fantasy and horror explores themes of family, fear, happiness, and humanity versus the supernatural.

Natalie Medina, as the young William Halloway, was constantly engaged and present on stage. Her character’s emotions were clearly expressed in moments of confusion or fear through physicality and tone of voice. Medina had excellent relationships with Jim and in particular with her character’s father, Mr. Halloway. Nico Betancur, as Mr. Halloway, made an impression throughout the show, especially in the second act, when his character moved to the forefront of the story.

Marc Plaskett, as Jim Nightshade, accurately portrayed his age and lust to be older. However, the creepily charismatic Mr. Dark, portrayed by Andres Hernandez, really captured the stage. His movements and reactions encapsulated the eeriness of the show, and he remained consistently engaged and interesting. Taylor Briesemeister, as the Dust Witch, also created an enticing character, bringing humor to an otherwise serious show.

The rest of the cast generally enhanced the show, although there were a few slow moments. The Circus Freaks each developed a unique and interesting character and worked well together as a unit. Their physicality and character choices enhanced the show’s creepy factor.

The show’s technical aspects helped move the story along and generally enhanced the production. From the very first impression, the set looked striking, and throughout the show, it was effectively used. Although some set changes could have been more fluid, there were no mishaps, and the stage management team worked effectively. The production’s special effects ran smoothly and added to the ambiance. Sound and lighting also ran without flaws and enhanced quality, adding to the storyline in moments such as the train’s arrival and the lightning storms. Makeup and costumes were effective and appealing, although a little simple. The show’s publicity particularly stood out, with creative ideas such as a haunted house and a pep rally performance. Choreography, although not a major element, was well staged and executed.

The Sagemont School took an interesting and intriguing play and created a wonderfully creepy performance. Something Wicked This Way Comes truly makes us stop and consider: what makes a monster and what makes a man?

*** *** ***

By Grace Sindaco of Dillard Center for the Arts

Something Wicked This Way Comes, first opening in 1970, is Ray Bradbury’s idyllic tribute to his small town childhood. Two boys, born on either side of midnight on Halloween, rash Jim and cautious Will, visit the carnival in which horrors tempt. It is an evil place, with a terrifying maze of mirrors, a carousel that tampers with age, peopled by freaks and led by the preening, threatening Mr. Dark. Jim yearns to be a few years older while, Will’s 54-year-old father, who works at the library, would love to be a few years younger. This is an overall conflict in the characters as they each have to become okay with who they are.

Natalie Medina (Will Halloway) and Marc Plaskett (Jim Nightshade) embodied the energy that young boys display, carrying most of the play’s exposition. Nico Betancur, as Will’s father, shows sudden and convincing mettle as he takes on the increasingly charismatic Mr. Dark (Andres Hernandez). These two portray a well-developed power struggle in scenes together with chemistry that didn’t miss a beat. Hernandez strutted the stage with menacing characterization and commanding stage presence. The Dust Witch (Taylor Briesemesiter) and the genuinely spooky sound and music by Skylar Scorca, Marc Plaskett and co., are high points in this hugely ambitious story.

Some frustrating issues that bog this production down were projection and energy of the cast as a whole, although it successfully solves so many other potential problems that could be deadly for an adaptation of Something Wicked. For example, the carnival’s carousel, which is so pivotal to the show’s plot, is perfectly created by actors playing the carousel horses. Even the performances of the carnival grotesqueries were eerily creepy. The makeup and hair (Eva Daskos) of the carousel actors and the old age makeup was well executed with a high degree of difficulty. The costumes, overall, could have been more specific and cleaner displayed, but the construction of the costumes was well-made and time accurate. The overall mood, set by the lighting (Arturo Fernandez) and sound, worked perfectly, with expertly timed cues.

Some stand out elements from the set (Victor Paes-Leme, Andres Hernandez and crew) were the two climbable house wagons and the carnival attraction displays. For example, the illuminating box that displayed the Ice Woman brought a chilling vibe to the cold and frozen actress. The two windows on the top of the houses brought interesting levels to the stage. They arranged difficult set changes efficiently, going from the library to the carnival floor, to the house of Mrs. Foley. The specificity of the flower changes in the windowsill helped differentiate the houses of different characters.

Come see where the horrors lurk in Greenville, Illinois, and come see this heckin’ good production of Something Wicked This Way Comes at The Sagemont School.

*** *** ***

Reviews of Picnic at J.P. Taravella High School on Friday, 11/03/2017.

By Santiago Zornosa of Western High School

A typical Labor Day, the birds chirp blissfully as the bright summer’s day leads into the highly anticipated picnic. As the sun sets, romance and conflicts ensue, creating delightful chaos among neighbors and newcomers. JP Taravella’s Picnic captured a nostalgic realism in its production, providing a slice of life.

Written by William Inge, Picnic premiered on Broadway in 1953, amassing 477 performances, as well as a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Madge, a pleasant to the eye yet unfulfilled teen, alongside her playfully rebellious sister, Millie, prepare for a Labor Day outing; however, when the unexpected troublemaker Hal arrives, the neighbors question his needed presence and begin to scapegoat Hal in order to hide their greater conflicts. Over a two day period, Millie’s insecurities, Rosemary’s commitments, Flo’s vicarious living through Madge, and Hal’s constant working troubles develop into an intense calamity in the foreground, placing the supposed subject matter, the actual picnic, as an afterthought.

As the lights rose, the carefully crafted and well-designed set led with an imposing first impression; the trimmed lawn grass adorning the stage floor, the delivered bottles of milk placed by the door, surrounded by the two homes, each constructed in such a way to indicate an entire life behind its wooden panels. Madge and Millie step on stage, played by Kimberly Sessions and Madison Kelleher, respectively. These two sisters display a vibrant chemistry on stage. The rambunctious teasing of one another about boys or their appearance, or both, paired with challenging insights on their mother’s treatment created a strong and defined on stage relationship. As Hal makes his first appearance, played by Daniel Agmon, he instantly sways the hearts of every female character. His exuberant and confident disposition snazzily reflects his appearance, especially during the dancing scene between him and Madge; even though they have limited dialogue, the slow and close dance, aided by the excellent sound design playing the tune of an oldie, created a defined single moment between the two characters. Although the intimacy of the relationship could have been explored more, they more than satisfied with their spontaneity and charm. Elsewhere in the town, Rosemary dabbles in the search for love, not quite content with her “friend boy” Howard, yet pursuing him all the same. Vanessa Nottingham’s portrayal of Rosemary found a lovely balance between playful dancing and flirting, and strictly defined moral values, all while in search of marriage. Her range captured even the most nuanced details of the character, with variation in vocalization and facial expressions alike. At times, perhaps, suspenseful moments between characters could have been slower and stronger due to the situation, but this certainly did not detract from the overall production.

The sounds of birds chirping and rumbling motor engines, paired with the changing light to indicate the time of day made the auditorium almost seem like a typical Kansas town, the light and sound design worked in unison to provide an engaging experience. JP Taravella’s Picnic delivered themes of romance, individuality, and the search for what comes next, creating a marvelous performance.

*** *** ***

By Emma Wasserman of Western High School

A picnic, a holiday weekend, and time spent with friends and family. What could possibly go wrong? “Picnic,” a play by William Inge, premiered at the Music Box theatre in 1953. It revolves around a Labor Day picnic that the characters are set to attend. Madge Owens, the eldest daughter of Flo Owens, is dating Alan Seymour, with the intent to marry him. But when Alan’s friend from college, Hal Carter, comes to visit, the connection between him and Madge is undeniable.

Leading lady Kimberly Sessions flawlessly depicted the highs and lows of Madge, showing the character at her best and her worst. Sessions executed the character arch in a believable and realistic manner, allowing audiences to empathize with her. Madison Kelleher, who portrayed the role of Millie, Flo’s younger daughter, had impeccable comedic timing, with humorous antics that had the audience bursting out with laughter. Vanessa Nottingham gave a standout performance as Rosemary, the schoolteacher renting a room at the Owens’ home. With well developed facial expressions and exceptional line delivery, Nottingham clearly shows the audience the depth of Rosemary’s character. Even without speaking, the strength of her acting talent is clearly evident. While some relationships lacked obvious chemistry, the familial relationship between Madge and her sister Millie never seemed forced and shined throughout the show.

The technical aspects of the JP Taravella’s “Picnic” truly brought the show to life. The play featured a beautiful set that encapsulated the essence of the time period. The lighting design of the show was also quite breathtaking, with clear attention to detail, especially when Rosemary mentioned sunset and the lighting reflected that line in the subtle hues that changed. The costumes were well-made and the cast executed costume changes in a quick and efficient manner.

JP Taravella High School’s production of “Picnic” was mesmerizing. With a dedicated cast and crew, and attention to not only technical but character details, the final product was able to genuinely shine.

*** *** ***

By Amorie Barton of Pompano Beach High

It’s not uncommon to feel boxed in by society; expected to behave in the manner that others want, while simultaneously yearning for so much more in life. The pretty girl is supposed to sit there and look pretty, while the smart girl is too “ugly” for anyone to notice her. But sometimes, when faced with opportunity to break free of the archetype, surprising things will happen, and surprising things did happen on stage at J.P Taravella’s production of “Picnic”.

“Picnic” is a 1953 play written by William Inge. Originally running for 477 performances on Broadway, “Picnic” became a critical success winning a Tony award and Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The story follows a group of people who are preparing for their annual neighborhood picnic. At first everything seems picturesque, with the beautiful Madge engaged to marry Alan, tomboy Millie enjoying her book and the neighborhood acting just as it should. But with the arrival of Hal, a streetwise new face, the picnic is anything but pleasant.

Carrying the show was Madge, played by Kimberly Sessions, and her sister Millie, played by Madison Kelleher. Sessions and Kelleher did an excellent job of portraying their sibling rivalry for all to see. The two had very believable chemistry on stage and their interactions always seemed very genuine. Kelleher in particular was always one to watch. Her comedic timing and devotion to her character made her a stand out in almost any scene she was in. Another outstanding performance was by Vanessa Nottingham, who played Rosemary. The role of Rosemary was not an easy one, as she changes immensely from the start of the play to its conclusion. Nottingham was able to handle this role with grace, having memorable characterization and delightful line delivery throughout.

Overall the acting on stage was typically strong. However, there were moments when certain emotions were lost due to fixable things such as poor diction or projection. I also wish that greater risks were taken in changing the inflection of some of the lines as, again, meaningful moments were lost.

Taravella did an excellent job of bringing the melodrama “Picnic” to life. The set designed by the JPT Stagecraft class was brilliantly done. It was clear that great attention to detail was used when creating the set as everything on stage had a purpose and never took away from play’s overall meaning. The set pieces, props and costumes were all clean and consistent with the era of the play, which only worked to positively benefit the production. With the exception of minor sound issues, lights and sound were mostly consistent and beautiful. The lights always helped set the mood of the current scene, changing with the time of day or with the emotions happening on stage. The sound crew never missed a cue, which is a commendable feat considering the amount of sound effects used in this production.

Beyond a few minor issues, JP Tavarella’s production of “Picnic” was a wonderful display of passion and story-telling.

*** *** ***

By Kelly Taylor of American Heritage School

JP Taravella High School’s production of “Picnic” turned a breezy November evening into a steamy September night full of romance and betrayal.

Set in 1953, “Picnic” by William Inge tells the story of a young woman, Madge Owens, living in one of the poorer neighborhoods in town and struggling to fit into a life of loveless marriages until Hal Carter, a bad boy staying next door, swoops in and steals her heart in one sweltering Labor Day weekend. Along with her story, the play depicts the struggles of the spinster school teacher, Rosemary Sydney, and Madge’s smart, independent sister Millie as they look to develop relationships of their own. Premiering in February of 1953 on Broadway, the show ran for 477 performances before it began touring through 1955. While popular in its time, the play and its historical struggles of women looking for a balance between supporting themselves and embracing love has become widely overlooked in recent years.

Overall, the cast of JP Taravella High School’s production did a phenomenal job of playing up the maturity of their characters. Their distinct character choices of each actor brought out the story in a very detailed manner while maintaining a high energy level to engage the audience.

The relationship between Madge and Millie Owens, played by Kimberly Sessions and Madison Kelleher respectively, stood out among the many character interactions as well developed and executed. The way that the girls teased, chased, and yelled at each other brought to life the challenging, and sometimes infuriating, relationship between sisters.

Among the featured and supporting cast, Vanessa Nottingham portrayed an ever-aging woman very clearly in her role as Rosemary Sydney, and depicted the imminent challenges of women in the time period beautifully. Not only was Nottingham’s performance incredibly consistent, she played the role with a remarkably professional air and put forth a very believable character.

The most eminent technical aspect of the show was the use of the natural sound effects, including that of birds and trains, to set the mood and define the season as well as the time of day. The balance between hearing the sounds while not drowning out the actors on stage was kept very precisely, and the sounds were placed fittingly throughout the production. The changes in color of the lights was also timed perfectly and contributed to the locale.

As a whole, the establishment of the time period through character choices and the technical portrayal of the setting remained particularly engaging and had professional qualities. The overall production successfully established Inge’s adult characters and the struggles woven through the story line.

*** *** ***

By Dylan Jost of North Broward Preparatory School

At the heart of every neighborhood are the people who live there. At the heart of J.P. Taravella High School’s production of “Picnic”, are the women of a small neighborhood on the “wrong side of the tracks” who lead this well-executed story of repression, yearning, and disappointment.

Penned by William Inge, “Picnic” premiered on Broadway in 1953, where it ran for 477 performances. A Pulitzer Prize for Drama winner, “Picnic” takes place in 1950’s Kansas as a group of women are preparing for a neighborhood Labor Day picnic. At this same time, drifter Hal Carter rolls into town. The Owen sisters, Madge and Millie, are immediately attracted to Hal, although their mother is disapproving of him. As Madge begins to get closer to Hal, sisterhood is tested, bonds are broken, and complicated relationships begin to form.

Leading the show were Kimberly Sessions as Madge Owens and Daniel Agmon as Hal Carter. Both actors believably depicted the love between Madge and Hal. Sessions shone with a strong stage presence and extraordinary believability, yearning for something more in her life. Agmon delivered an admirable performance as Hal Carter, a cocky vagabond who is new to town. Agmon also managed to show Hal’s more vulnerable side, especially in Act 3. Both Agmon and Sessions must be recognized for handling their roles with utter poise, as well as consistently making bold choices throughout the show.

A performance that must be mentioned is that of Madison Kelleher as Millie Owens. Kelleher’s impeccable comedic timing was commendable. This was especially evident in moments where Millie interacted with Madge, her sister. In addition, Kelleher also showed a more insecure side of Millie, in which Millie lives in the shadow of her beautiful sister, Madge. Another standout character was Rosemary Sydney (Vanessa Nottingham). Nottingham delivered a performance characterized by an incredible range of emotions, alternating between contentment, exasperation, and infatuation. Nottingham made the audience feel for Rosemary as she, under the facade of being happily independent, hoped for a man to call her own.

Technically the show was masterfully executed. A laudable technical aspect of “Picnic” was its intimate set. Walking into the theater, the first thing the audience saw was the set in all of its simple, yet beautiful glory. The lights by Alex Rodriguez must also be acknowledged for the way in which they added to the play by portraying times of day.

The cast as a whole worked well together in putting on this difficult play. An admirable aspect of the play was the interaction between the two sisters, as they clearly had great, enjoyable chemistry. Although the energy and diction of some actors were lacking at some points, this was made up for by an overall stage awareness by the cast.

J.P. Taravella High School masterfully brought messages of insecurity, yearning, and sexuality to the stage in its production of “Picnic”. Bringing the audience to laughs, tears, and gasps, “Picnic” proved to be a worthwhile venture into the world of 1950’s Kansas.

*** *** ***

Reviews of The Great All American Musical Disaster at Saint Andrew’s School on Friday, 11/03/2017.

By Jade Carey of Piper High School

Energetic expressions, colorful costumes, exuberant characters, and amazing creativity, are just a few words that can be used to describe Saint Andrew’s School’s rendition of the play, “The Great All-American Musical Disaster”. The Great All-American Musical Disaster follows the journey Junior Dover Jr., a young film producer who is determined to create the next big movie. To ensure his next film is a success, he gets every Hollywood star into his film by giving them each a different script which meets each star’s requirements. Throughout the play, Junior Dover Jr. struggles to keep everything in line while making his next big hit.

Many students brought their characters to the stage with life and vigor. Performers such as Noelle Norona brought a vibrant, comedic tone to the 1950’s style character known as Apassionatta Abalone. Catherine Schrubb delivered a diverse performance as Ethel Kent, as she showcased the characters ability to be comedic at some points and serious at others. Alex Watson portrayed the hilarious Flint Wormwood with the use of vibrant facial expressions and great comedic timing. The ensemble captures the exciting yet chaotic scene of the movie-making business in the 70’s. Some performers lacked the required energy at certain parts of the play, but all together the cast was able to bring enough excitement to every scene. At certain times some lines could not be heard from the characters, but the mood was still portrayed through body language and facial expressions. Even though the comedy was well executed, some performers tended to over exaggerate their characters which took away from
the pivotal comical scenes.

The set, although minimalistic, was very intriguing as it set the tone of the 70’s Hollywood era. Props such as cameras and microphones allowed the characters to portray what it was like during these times. Altogether the costumes did not accurately portray the timing of which the play was set, but individually it did help to express the personality of each character. The lighting and sound helped to express what was happening throughout the play. The lighting and special effects when each character entered, or when new scenes were introduced, were very well executed and brought life to the show. The addition of extra videos in between scenes was very well done and showcased the creativeness of the tech crew.

All in all, Saint Andrew’s School’s production of, “The Great All-American Musical Disaster,” was a vigorous and dynamic experience, filled with hilarious moments and characters you will never forget.

*** *** ***

By Angel Martinez of West Broward High School

The Great All-American Musical Disaster, A Farce in Three Acts. Saint Andrew’s School really pulled off a very good rendition of the show. The farce concept is quite hard to pull of correctly, being that it is pure comedy and timing and no real moral is being taught. The show starts off with Ethel Kent (Catherine Schrubb) with Ginger (Addie Saltz) awaiting the arrival of the “world-renowned” producer, Junior Dover Jr. (Ben Snider). Junior arrives, Ethel, furious about his dramatic entrance, asks what his next disastrous flop of a movie is. He comes up with the next big disaster movie “Disasterama”, and plans to hire the biggest stars in Hollywood. He brings in Bronco Whinny (Hayden Sikora), Apassionatta Abalone (Noelle Norona), Chuckles Lafoon (Colin Finney), Baby Bernice (Alice Moldavskaya), Gee-Gee Fontaine (Bria Weisz), and Flint Wormwood (Alex Watson). He also hired T.V director, Plato Voltaire (Matthew Eisenberg). He does so but gives everyone different scripts and plans to only feature them rather than star them. Hell breaks loose and they all find out and try to kill Junior.

Short clips were made by Brendan Assaf, Noelle Norona, and Bria Weisz. They were played after the act ended and before one started with the exception of the Academy Awards scene. They were a very nice touch to the show and added a new dimension of the comedy that most have never seen in a high school production. This setting takes place in the 70’s and they did an amazing job conveying the stereotypical 70’s movie star/ director character. Though their costumes were very modern and sometimes didn’t fit the setting. Their stage also felt very empty and some transitions felt they took too long. A reoccurring issue is that some have issues with diction and projecting their voices. There were moments when the characters spoke too fast or slurred their words and were quite difficult to understand.

Characters that stood out were Apassionatta Abalone played by Noelle and Flint Wormwood played by Alex, they really seemed to enjoy the role and never seized to break character or lose focus. Ethel Kent played by Catherine was an amazing relief to some of the comedy for when it tried too hard to be funny.

Saint Andrew’s rendition of The Great All-American Musical Disaster was quite good considering it is a high school production. The characters were lovable and funny. The jokes may have gone too long and stale, the tech was pretty amazing and the creativity was there for those videos. This show gave farce a good name.

*** *** ***

By Megan Begley of Coral Glades High School

Everyone loves a good old disaster movie, right? With such vibrant characters and intriguing and entertaining additional special effects, Saint Andrews’ School’s production of the decidedly outrageous farce about a film gone wrong, “The Great All-American Musical Disaster,” was anything but a disaster (or a musical).

Written by Tim Kelly, “The Great All-American Musical Disaster” follows the story of a struggling film producer of the 1970s, Junior Dover, Jr., who has repeatedly failed to recreate the prior successes of his late father in the film industry. In a desperate attempt to create the greatest film of all time, Junior scams several popular actors into agreeing to be in his next big film by convincing each of them that they are to be the film’s star. This outrageous, three-act narrative provides an abundance of hilarious characters, written to be spoofed interpretations of stereotypical characters that were prominent in Hollywood films of the period.

Among a large cast of crazy and outlandish characters, it is difficult to be the level-headed voice of reason; Catherine Schrubb gives a genuine performance as a strong and hardworking woman, Ethel Kent. Noelle Norona’s portrayal of Apassionatta Abalone offered a consistent, slow, and dramatic tone and accent, bringing an immediate and constant presence to the stage. Another comedic highlight of the show was Bria Weisz’s Gee-Gee Fontaine; with an unwavering discordant voice and clunky movements, Weisz provided many of the show’s most comedic moments. Although among the ensemble of outrageous characters, Alex Essig (Flint Wormwood) and Jeremy Matsil (Bob Everlove) provided some of the more developed and believable characters of the production with genuine actions and reactions throughout. A refreshing aspect of the show was the independent characterizations of each role; some characters could have easily been portrayed in very similar ways, however, the idiosyncrasies of each role, consistently portrayed by the actors provided a cast of very distinct characters. With many hilarious moments, most of the cast exhibited perfect comedic timing, although some jokes were dragged out for an overly extended amount of time. Without the use of body mics, the entire cast was able to project very well, however, some lines were lost to the exaggerated accents of a few characters. The cast as a whole delivered unique individual characterizations, loud and mostly audible dialogue, and a consistent, high level of energy.

The clever use of video clips, projected on a wall of the theatre, provided some of the most hilarious moments of the show. This unique element of the show added so much humor that perfectly fits the overall tone this farce. The costumes and makeup were very well done. Some costumes did not appear to be very time period appropriate, however, the meticulous color-coding of costumes in some scenes created a noticeable color scheme that was very pleasing to the eye. Makeup, while very well done, could have been better utilized to express the various ages of the many characters in the show. Clever use of lighting and sound successfully added to the overall ambiance the show.

With a large yet consistent and energetic cast with great comedic timing and clever and entertaining technical aspects, Saint Andrews’ School’s production of “The Great All-American Musical Disaster” was one non-musical, non-disaster audiences won’t soon forget.

*** *** ***

By Daniel Calderon of Somerset Academy

Imagine a cast of Hollywood stars coming together on a film, where they all believe they are the lead. Anything can happen in Hollywood, right? The Saint Andrew’s School production of “The Great All-American Musical Disaster” was a lively, hilarious, a pie in your face (literally!) rendition of this great farce.

Written by Tim Kelly, ” The Great All- American Musical Disaster” is a comedic play commenting on the big Hollywood actors of the 70s, with characters embodying key personalities of real-life stars of the time period. This play revolves around Junior Dover, Jr. a struggling producer trying to save his producing company. Since his last movie “Zombies of the Stratosphere” wasn’t a box office hit, he convinces major Hollywood actors to come and perform in his new movie. The thing is the actors were all given a different script, making them believe that they are the lead and everyone around them is merely the supporting cast.

The producer in charge of this new movie was Junior Dover, play by Ben Snider, who had great physicality and high energy throughout the play. Junior Dover wouldn’t have been able to put this movie without the help of his secretary Ethel Kent, played by Catherine Schrubb. Schrubb demonstrated a great understanding of her character playing as the “straight man” in the comedy. Schrubb’s being grounded and determined through the play showed her great skills. The friendship portrayed by Snider and Schrubb really helped move the play along keeping it together.

The supporting cast consisted of the major actors in this new film working together. As a group these characters had no dull moments, though at some times the comedy felt forced. A standout in this show was Noelle Norona playing Apassionatta Abalone, an old Hollywood star trying to make it back on television with the new kids. Whether it was when she was saying her name or interacting with Flint Wormwood, Norona showed great skills in her physicality, comedic timing, and with a great accent encompassing this character. Each actor in the supporting cast was fully committed never dropping character, though at moments felt overacted, they kept the energy and laughter high and rolling throughout the play.

Great scenes like the Oscar awards showcased the chemistry of the cast and other scenes like the chasing of the Junior Dover, Jr. highlighted not only the casts overall great physicality but there interaction with the audience. The lighting was smooth and efficient setting the scene for the actors at hand. The costumes were very nice, although sometimes inconsistent with time periods; they did help establish characters personality. At some times it did feel like the audience was left in the dark too much during transitions, but the crew worked diligently moving set pieces around. The most intriguing part of this play was the special effects, more specifically the videos created by the cast shown throughout the play, which was a great add-on that helped the show with there scenes but more specifically it was a comedic genius idea.

The overall production of The Saint Andrews School “The Great All- American Musical Disaster” was a very good, over-the-top farce.With a large yet consistent and energetic cast with great comedic timing and clever and entertaining technical aspects, Saint Andrews’ School’s production of “The Great All-American Musical Disaster” was one non-musical, non-disaster audiences won’t soon forget.

*** *** ***

By Susanna Ninomiya of Somerset Academy

Come see a play where “Lights, Camera, Action!” has a new meaning in the Saint Andrew’s production of “The Great All-American Musical Disaster.”

Deemed a “farce in three acts”, the play was written by Tim Kelly and follows the story of a failing producer, Junior Dover Jr., and his attempt in making his greatest hit: an outrageous disaster film that is full of Hollywood’s biggest stars. The catch, however, is that each actor believes they are playing the main role, and the other stars as minor roles. With this in mind, chaos and hilarity ensue as Junior tries to stay one step ahead of the charade.

Playing as Junior, Ben Snider exuded great physicality that allowed his body to express more than enough emotions, allowing for more room to be the wacky producer. Catherine Schrubb plays Ethel Kent, the intelligent yet snarky secretary of Junior’s, and connected the scenes to the story with her commitment to the role and her energy that always filled the room.

The Hollywood stars all brought charm and did a great job developing distinct characterizations as they gave comically absurd caricatures from decades of film. Bria Weisz was charismatic as the gorgeous and ditzy Gee-Gee Fontaine, impressively manipulating her body to help land jokes. No one could forget the outlandish Apassionatta Abalone, played by Noelle Norona, an old-time forgotten actress that wants her popularity to be reborn. Alex Watson embodied Flint Wormwood, a macho man that mainly plays cops, with ease and passion as he showed his prowess, good looks, and a fear of Apassionata. Brendan Assaf and Grace Sodi, in the roles of Television Announcer and Sylvia Metroland respectively, helped lead the story as transitions with a dose of comedy. Although there were some instances where the comedy dragged on, everyone had great chemistry, and each had a blend of different styles of comedy, leaving the scenes that had all of the stars in one room as very satisfying.

Tech-wise, this show was very creative. Projections were displayed throughout the play to exemplify the Hollywood actors’ personas and overall feel of the show. Each actor had their own introduction- fit with a special spotlight, movement, and theme music- effectively setting the characters up. The set was nicely executed, using minimal but efficient pieces, and the costumes were generally consistent with the time period. Although there were some delays in the execution, the lights and their transitions beautifully brought the scenes to life, and the makeup made it easy to see the zany expressions of each actor.

“The Great All- American Musical Disaster” is an ode to the legend that is Hollywood, full of tropes and laughs, and the Saint Andrew’s School wonderfully relayed the classic message of Hollywood- “Anything can happen!”

*** *** ***

Reviews of 9 to 5 at North Broward Preparatory School on Friday, 10/20/2017.

By Dani Wolfe of J.P. Taravella High School

Three overworked women, a gun, a harness, and a “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” of a boss make for hilarious workplace antics in the musical “9 to 5,” based on the 1980 movie. North Broward Preparatory School delivered an entertaining rendition of this beloved story.

Helping the transition from screen to stage was Dolly Parton, one of the movie’s stars. She wrote the music and lyrics for the stage version, while Patricia Resnick wrote the book. Resnick definitely knew the material, since she was one of the film’s writers. The Parton/Resnick version premiered in Los Angeles in 2008 and then went to Broadway the following year. Both the film and the movie tell the story of three co-workers (Violet Newstead, Doralee Rhodes, and Judy Bernly) who turn the tables on their selfish boss (Franklin Hart, Jr.). Hart not only keeps women from moving up the corporate ladder, but he also embezzles money from the company, a fact the women discover after kidnapping him and making improvements at the office in his absence.

Bringing these women to life for North Broward were three powerhouse actors and singers. Danielle Ganz played Violet, the leader of the women, and Ganz really embodied her character and made bold choices playing this bold woman. Eve Cohen had a lot to live up to as Doralee, played in the film by Parton herself. Cohen did a wonderful job with the Southern accent and big movements required in the part. Playing Judy, the new girl in the office who has a lot to prove, even to herself, was the incredible Natalie Langnas. Langnas really delivered with her vocals, and her incredible range soared on the solo “Get Out and Stay Out.”

The evil, sexist Mr. Hart was portrayed very convincingly by Samuel Kelly-Cohen. His acting choices were impeccable and left the audience laughing, and sometimes cringing, every time he appeared. He also delivered outstanding vocals while staying in character. Another standout comic performer was Quinn DeVita, who was absolutely hilarious in the role of Roz Keith, an assistant obsessed with the married Mr. Hart. DeVita really brought this quirky character to life, making consistently bold choices throughout the show, and particularly in her song “Heart to Hart.”

The ensemble were together in most numbers but lacked a bit of energy at times, although there were some standouts who were consistent in every scene. Costumes stuck to the time period as well as the characters’ income levels and ages while props really sold the office sets, including the dated, corded telephones. An impressive addition was the use of a background screen that changed from scene to scene and really enhanced what was going on in the show.

It may be 2017, but “9 to 5” definitely stands the test of time, from its 1980 film debut to the 2008 musical. Watching these three women prevail against their sexist boss continues to entertain, and North Broward Preparatory School did a fantastic job of bringing the story to life.

*** *** ***

By Daniel Agmon of J.P. Taravella High School

North Broward Preparatory School’s heartfelt production of “9 to 5” focuses on messages of male chauvinism and women’s equality in the workplace, with a very upbeat and entertaining delivery. On a much more serious note, the production is very topical, with the recent scandal involving a renowned film producer and the many accounts of his sexual harassment, and the ensuing #MeToo campaign. While “9 to 5” may make light of the issue, it is yet another reminder of the century old male dominating culture we still have a long way to change.

Based off the hit motion picture that was first screened in 1980, the musical, with the same title, debuted on Broadway in 2009. With a book written by Patricia Resnick, and music composed by the star whose story it is based off, Dolly Parton. The show was quite unsuccessful on Broadway, running only five months, despite receiving four Tony nominations. The story set in the early eighties is centered around three secretaries: Violet Newstead, a hardworking single mother; Judy Bernly, new at her job and recently divorced by her abusive husband; and Doralee Rhstriodes, the woman modeled off the attractive Dolly Parton, who is happily married. Their sexist boss, Franklin Hart Jr. oversteps the mark, when he persistently tries to pursue Doralee into having sex, and spreading rumors that she is sleeping with him. While the women jokingly plot to kill Franklin, Violet actually accidently poisons him; a kidnap, and chaos ensue.

Danielle Ganz starred as Violet with a striking stage presence and realistic maturity while Eve Cohen captured the Dolly Parton essence as Doralee Rhodes with breathtaking vocals and exhibited vibrant energy. Natalie Langnas’s vocals were both harmonious and crisp, noteworthy in the challenging song “Get Out and Stay Out.” Ganz, Cohen, and Langnas shared comedic chemistry as they plan to kill their bigoted boss, Franklin Hart Jr. played by Samuel Kelly-Cohen who superbly mastered the tasking role and displayed quality vocal technique in songs such as “Here for You,”

Quinn DeVita portrayed the fanatic Roz Keith with impeccable comedic timing. Her song “Heart to Hart” was highly entertaining. Dylan Jost was a lovely addition as the young Joe, presenting quirky facial expressions, as he nervously crushed on Violet. Eitan Pessah made great use of his minimal stage time as the company chairman Tinsworthy. Overall, the cast should be commended for the daunting achievement of taking on such adult themes with utmost believability. The acting was realistic, and the actors were well understood. The ensemble at times lacked energy, but this was more than compensated by their flawless harmonies.

Technically, the production was impeccable, incorporating a projection screen that provided authenticity to the settings, and created a new level of comedy to the production during the dream sequence. Costumes coordinated by Almira Shardarbekova were exceptional, highlighting the 80s’ and quick changes were done faultlessly. The use of a live orchestra was another wonderful addition.

North Broward Preparatory School brought messages of equality, love, and independence in their bouncy, uproarious production of “9 to 5”, leaving you with “a cup of ambition” and “dreams that he will never take away”.

*** *** ***

By Sofie Leathers of Boca Raton High School

Most workplaces have a “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot.” Especially in the 1970’s, when women’s rights were beginning to gain more momentum in the corporate world. 9 to 5 shows the struggles of Consolidated Industries, a cutthroat office in which the only way to rise to the top is to be a man – but not for long.

North Broward Prep’s 9 to 5, written by Dolly Parton, debuted on Broadway in 2009. The story follows three unhappy women working under a misogynistic and manipulative boss. Its witty script, lively score, and dark humor were made memorable by the committed cast and crew.

The production’s standout element was its well-rounded execution of comedy. Its three protagonists and other characters had excellent chemistry, and their clean delivery of comedic lines elevated the show’s quality.

The show’s three leading ladies carried the show with poise and sophisticated character depth. Danielle Ganz portrayed Violet Newstead, the experienced and ambitious secretary in the office, with conviction. Her acting skills made it easy to believe she was a single mother whose commitment to her job has proved unsuccessful for too long. Eve Cohen played Doralee Rhodes, the misjudged southern belle whose beauty gets her labeled shallow and easy. Her clear voice and extensive range revealed the character’s true emotions and desires, and her realistic Texan accent was commendable considering its difficulty. Natalie Langnas brought the wide-eyed new employee, Judy Bernly, to life. Her dynamic character arc was expressed beautifully, coming to a climax with a well-done ballad. Another standout lead was the notorious boss, Franklin Hart, played by Samuel Kelly-Cohen with praiseworthy comedic timing and high-quality vocals.

The supporting cast also added another layer of comedy and interest to the show. However, Quinn DeVita completely captured the audience’s attention. Her performance as Roz Keith, the mousey, uptight, rule-abiding secretary, was hilarious due to the character’s big secret – her crush on the boss. Roz’s fantasies were revealed in “Heart to Hart,” a ridiculous and entertaining comedic ballad. The ensemble, though not always perfectly synchronized or energetic, delivered difficult choreography and complex quick changes well. They enhanced the protagonists’ plot, and they visually materialized each of their deepest wishes.

The technical aspects of 9 to 5 were seamless and brought the show to life. Costumes were well-made, and the principals balanced many quick changes smoothly. The makeup also made the actors pop, and it fit in with the show’s 70’s plot. Their stage management was also well-organized and efficient, but there were a few moments during which the audience was left lingering in the dark. The set was creatively used and took advantage of a background screen that provided innovative scene changes, backgrounds, and a brilliantly amusing twist. The lighting and pit were of professional quality, allowing audience members to feel completely immersed in the story.

9 to 5 was a lighthearted, funny piece with a deeper message that especially resonates today. The actors and technicians clearly put hours of hard work into the show, and their attention-to-detail read well onstage. The musical’s relevant message proves to be true – sometimes, “nothin’s gonna change if you don’t change it.”

*** *** ***

By Charlotte Bacharach of Cardinal Gibbons High School

An unexpected kidnapping, Dolly Parton, the 1980’s, major girl power – need I say more? North Broward Preparatory School’s rendition of “9 to 5” brought together all this and more accompanied by bundles of laughter. With music and lyrics by Dolly Parton and book by Patricia Resnick, “9 to 5” is based off the famous 1980 movie. After it’s premiere in Los Angeles, the musical opened on Broadway in April 2009. It received 15 Drama Desk Award nominations and four Tony Award nominations during it’s brief Broadway run. Focusing on the poorly-run Consolidated Industries led by a sexist and egotistical CEO, three strong women come together – albeit through drugs, kidnapping, and a touch of attempted murder – to better their workplace through tolerance and compassion.

Violet Newstead (Danielle Ganz), Doralee Rhodes (Eve Cohen), and Judy Bernly (Natalie Langnas) comprised the close-knit trio dedicated to creating an environment of equality in their office. Danielle Ganz, portraying Violet Newstead, presented herself with extraordinary talent and polish. She always remained in character and made bold, animated character choices forming a dynamic and engaging role. She sang brilliantly and held supported harmonies. Eve Cohen as Doralee Rhodes embodied the Western essence of her character with a larger than life personality and charming accent. Despite the difficulty of an accent, she sang exquisitely with a clear, smooth tone and expansive range. Natalie Langnas’ Judy Bernly brought a sweet persona to the stage. Her versatile voice, strong in both head and chest, proved astonishing in her solo, “Get Out and Stay Out”. They performed as a cohesive unit in their beautifully blended harmonies, hilarious scenes, and sharp dances. The ladies’ motivation to work together stemmed from their wicked boss, Franklin Hart JR (Samuel Kelly-Cohen). He never had a dull moment, and filled every aspect of his character with eccentric energy in facial expressions, physicality, and more. His comedic skill and smooth singing propelled his song, “Here for You”.

Other outstanding roles include Roz Keith (Quinn DeVita) and Tinsworthy (Eitan Pessah). DeVita’s performance was hysterical in all facets. Her quirky character, though disliked by her coworkers, was loved by audiences due to her wacky personality and peculiar love for her boss, Franklin Hart. Making the most of every moment on stage, DeVita belted her “Hart” out, danced uproariously, and made stellar choices and expressions. Eitan Pessah played Tinsworthy, a company executive, and showed his immense dedication in the maturity he carried himself with and his command of the stage. The ensemble danced with clean movements, and added liveliness to the show with their presence. Though at times actors lacked intention or proper diction, the cast met the task of this arduous show with tenacity.

The technical categories shone alongside the cast. The intricate set complimented the show well, and integrated technology in the form of media projections. The numerous costume changes were executed efficiently and fit the time period well. Set changes moved smoothly with little interruption to the scene.

North Broward Preparatory School showed exceptional diligence and talent in “9 to 5”. Regardless of a few bumps in the road, like poisoning your boss or holding him hostage, their zestful musical showed that they truly “Shine Like the Sun”!

*** *** ***

By Nicole Sugarman of J.P. Taravella High School

Three women, fed up with being just “a step on the boss man’s ladder,” take on their misogynistic manager in North Broward Preparatory School’s production of 9 to 5: The Musical! Gear up for a “Dolly” good time and prepare to experience an empowering piece of musical theatre.

With an exuberant score by Dolly Parton, and a hilarious book by Patricia Resnick, 9 to 5 tells the uplifting story of three female secretaries working for Consolidated Companies who devise a plan to get even with their self-absorbed and pompous jerk of a boss. Based on the 1980 movie of the same name, 9 to 5: The Musical premiered in Los Angeles in September 2008 making its debut on Broadway in April 2009. This lively musical tells a story of revenge and unlikely friendship, inspiring women to take control of their lives and prove they are nobody’s fool.

Danielle Ganz portrayed Violet Newstead, a smart and efficient woman facing the struggle of watching her colleagues surpass her on the corporate ladder based merely upon their gender rather than skill. Ganz realistically captured Violet’s frustrations, as well as her wonderfully dry sense of humor, creating a concrete base for the show to build upon. Playing the glamorous, country gal, Doralee Rhodes, Eve Cohen seized the hearts of all viewers with her sweet southern charm and quick wit. Cohen showcased her impressive vocal ability, as well as her strong characterization in numbers such as Backwoods Barbie, Cowgirl’s Revenge, and Change It. Portraying the role of “new girl” Judy Bernly, a meek housewife turned strong, independant woman, Natalie Langnas depicted the character’s transition from timid to tough exquisitely. Langnas truly captured the essence of her role, as well as the production as a whole, in her powerful number “Get Out and Stay Out,” passionately declaring her feelings of mistreatment and asserting the beginning of a new chapter in her life.

Samuel Kelly-Cohen, playing Franklin Hart, the “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” of a boss, convincingly depicted the disgusting and arrogant personality of his character, forcing the audience to despise him by the end of the show. His amusing antics throughout the production were well-executed and consistently received laughs. Portraying the role of Roz Keith, the attentive office busybody and gossip queen, Quinn DeVita provided another layer of comedy to the production, particularly in her show-stopping number “Heart to Hart.”

Although occasionally lacking energy, the ensemble helped to create the bouncy, 80s feel of the musical with their lively facials and polished movements. The harmonies in numbers such as “9 to 5,” “Change It,” and “Shine like the Sun” were pleasing to the ear and complemented the show quite nicely.

From Doralee’s cowgirl getup to Judy’s gigantic floppy hat, the makeup, costumes, and hair in this production fit the characters and the 80s time period beautifully. The elaborate set was very versatile and functional, creating the buzzing atmosphere of the workplace. The enormous screen incorporated into the background of the set assisted in providing a way to establish the setting and mood of the scene or song.

In case you didn’t get the memo, it’s time to file away your close-mindedness and throw your outdated views into the shredder. The cast of North Broward Preparatory School’s 9 to 5 put on a spectacular production that made for a joyful evening, leaving only one thing left to say: Joy to the Girls!

*** *** ***

Reviews of The Importance of Being Earnest at American Heritage School on Thursday, 10/19/2017.

By Grace Sindaco of Dillard Center for the Arts

The Importance of Being Earnest, in full The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Comedy for Serious People, is a play in three acts by Oscar Wilde, performed in 1895 and published in 1899. A satire of Victorian social hypocrisy and hierarchy. The comedy is considered to be Wilde’s greatest dramatic achievement. American Heritage puts the show in a less archaic setting, placing it in the colorful and groovy 60s, as opposed to the original late 1800s. This change was delightfully executed and “produced vibrations.”

Jack Worthing, played by Frederick Bredemeyer, is a fashionable young man who lives in the country with his young and energetic ward, Cecily Cardew (Sydnie Rathe). He has invented a jaunty brother named Ernest who gives Jack an excuse to travel to London. Jack is in love with Gwendolen Fairfax, the cousin of his friend Algernon Moncrieff (Wesley Mahon). Gwendolen (Hannah Ellowitz), who thinks Jack’s name is Ernest, reciprocates his love, but her mother, Lady Bracknell (Fiona Baquerizo), objects to their marriage because Jack is an orphan who was found in a handbag at Victoria Station. Jack discovers that Algernon has been impersonating Ernest in order to woo Cecily, who has always been in love with the imaginary rogue Ernest. Jack has made something of himself, despite not knowing his own parental origins and must figure out how to fix the mess he created and win over Lady Bracknell’s consent of marriage.

The versatility, energy, and perfect chemistry of the cast were keystone components of the production. Each member of the cast had his or her own unique personality that was easily identifiable, no matter how small the role, and blended with irreproachable comedic timing from every actor on stage. The scenes specifically between Jack and Algernon, were amusing and waggish, leaving the audience cackling and bent over for breath. Ellowitz and Baquerizo as the contrasting mother-daughter duo both displayed hilarious lines and commanding presences. These four actors shared such an organic chemistry with one another, lighting up the stage in every scene, together and individually. Sydnie Rathe’s Cicily was light-hearted, innocent, and jocular, bouncing off the witty and senile Miss Prism (Stephanie Berger). The staff of the houses, Merriman and Lane (Olivia Bryne and Brandon Dawson) exhibited strong characterizations and vocal diversity in between character switches.

The chromatic environment established a hip and funky mood for the whole of the performance. With stage managing led by Alyssa Hartley, the set, props, makeup and costumes consisted of multi-colored time accurate pieces that made the vibrant theme take off and remain established through three creative scene changes.

American Heritage’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest successfully tackled this rendition of the late 1800s play, dazzling audience members through their potent telling of the importance of fighting for love, and spreading the flower power.

*** *** ***

By Sofie Leathers of Boca Raton High School

Welcome to the 60’s! Join the students of American Heritage High School as they take a super groovy spin on a classic in their production of “The Importance of Being Earnest.”

Written by Oscar Wilde, “The Importance of Being Earnest” first premiered on February 14, 1895 at the St. James Theatre in London, England and has been a staple in theatre ever since. The play is a farcical comedy that tells the story of John Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff and their use of the pseudonym “Ernest” to deceive others and better their personal quests for success. Wilde uses the absurdity of his characters and their issues to satirize the pretentious and pompous desire for perfection among the Upper Class in the Victorian Society.

As the play’s sneaky yet honorable protagonist, John Worthing, Frederick Bredemeyer had an undeniable understanding of Oscar Wilde’s comedy and exhibited a cohesive energy that kept the audience constantly engaged in his storytelling. John’s delightfully charismatic best friend, Algernon Moncrieff was marvelously portrayed by Wesley Mahon. Mahon’s colorful personality and flamboyant physicality notably contributed to the comedic essence of the show. Bredemeyer and Mahon developed an authentic onstage relationship and had many amusing moments as they argued about false identities, women, and cucumber sandwiches.

Hannah Ellowitz, as Worthing’s sophisticated and extravagant female counterpart Gwendolen Fairfax, exuded an air of confidence as she established dominance within her and Bredemeyer’s relationship. Ellowitz had excellent articulation and remained constantly engaged throughout the whole production, always presenting a sassy facial expression in response to the action onstage. Sydnie Rathe depicted Worthing’s youthful and stubborn ward, who also doubles as Moncrieff’s head-over-heels love interest, Cecily Cardew. Rathe radiated a playful energy as she roller-skated across the stage, complaining about her mundane life, and forming a delightful and genuine connection with Mahon.

Fiona Baquerizo provided a specifically memorable performance as Gwendolen’s arrogant and patronizing mother, Lady Bracknell. Her impeccable comedic timing made the scenes where she interrogated Worthing’s suitability for her daughter quite hilarious. Baquerizo had such an admirable comedic presence and never failed to have the audience laughing each and every time she took the stage. Another stellar comedian was Brandon Dawson. His portrayal of Moncrieff’s unenthusiastic butler, Lane, proves that the size of a role is unimportant when it is played by an exceptional actor.

The black box made the experience of watching the show more intimate, as if the audience was transformed into another decade. The set helped tremendously in transforming the production into the 60’s masterpiece that it was. The meticulous set changes were made enjoyable by the cast performing choreography as they conducted them.

Oscar Wilde said it best, “The truth is rarely pure and never simple,” and the truth is, American Heritage gave a far-out and hip performance that has definitely earned them an unlimited supply of muffins.

*** *** ***

By Andres Hernandez of The Sagemont School

Questions to be considered in the world of “The Importance of Being Earnest”: The country or the city? To tell the truth or live a lie? Teacake or bread and butter? There may be no correct response, but if the question is whether or not the students of American Heritage School “Wilde”-ly succeeded in their 60’s-inspired adaptation of this farcical comedy, the answer is most certainly yes!

A Trivial Comedy for Serious People, “The Importance of Being Earnest” was brought to life by the incomparable Oscar Wilde. A trailblazer for the LGBTQ+ and theatre communities alike, Wilde combined his witty humor and cognizance of Victorian social mores to create a show that has become a truly timeless classic. When John Worthing(Jack) and Algernon Moncrieff each fall in love under the alias of “Earnest”, the young men find themselves tangled in a web of mistaken identities, social obligations, and a remarkable amount of finger-foods.

He may go by more names than one, but John Worthing’s depth as a character can best be accredited to Frederick Bredemeyer’s exceptional maturity as a young actor. Bredemeyer demonstrated stark comprehension of both his material as well as the space, utilizing the set in a manner that allowed lengthier scenes to remain captivating and fluid.

Two performers who wholeheartedly embraced the comedic nature of the show were Fiona Baquerizo as Lady Bracknell and Wesley Mahon as Algernon Moncrieff. Baquerizo’s outrageous characterization of the pompous Lady Bracknell was a clear indication of her respect for Wilde’s work. Lady Bracknell embodies the overbearing weight of social expectations in Victorian England, and Baquerizo’s interpretation of the role captured that spirit triumphantly. Wesley Mahon was utterly delightful as the animated Algernon Moncrieff. His energy onstage was unwavering from beginning to end, resulting in a performance that was both alluring and undeniably likeable,

The entire cast is deserving of praise for consistently executing accents that were spot-on in terms of region and time period. Each actor brought a unique flare to their respective roles, but what was most impressive was their ability to capture the attitude of the play as a holistic unit. The 60’s accurate props, such as vintage bottles and luggage, were well utilized and always appropriate. The stage management and crew should be commended for their clean execution of unconventional scene changes. It was the role of the actors to alter the scenery
between the three acts, and the well-rehearsed transitions were both seamless and entertaining.

Fill your glass and raise it high, for the cast and crew of American Heritage School’s fantastic production of “The Importance of Being Earnest” are more than deserving of a toast. To love!

*** *** ***

By Julia Musso of NSU University School

So groovy, so hip! American Heritage School’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest was just that! This gem of a comedy glistened with delightful wit and amusement for all, while beautifully encompassing the struggle of finding true love in a world filled with uncertainty.

First performed in 1895 in London, this sardonic play written by Oscar Wilde focuses on the story of John Worthing and his “brother” Algernon Moncrieff as they attempt to woo their significant others and find out what it really means to be “earnest” in 20th century England. Wilde’s underhanded comments on Victorian society shed light on similar themes of the 60’s decade, and how even in current times, family and money can dictate your happiness.The strong elements of victorian satire, such as thick British accents and outdated slang, were expertly executed by the cast and allowed for an even more enjoyable audience experience.

Frederick Bredemeyer’s (John Worthing) masterful portrayal of his role included the perfect blend of humor and romance. His dedication and chemistry with the other performers was truly wonderful, and displayed an expert understanding of John himself and his connections with other characters on stage. Fiona Baquerizo’s performance (Lady Bracknell) was phenomenal, from her tasteful accent to show-stopping facial expressions. Her eccentric mannerisms and character choices added to the show tremendously, and consistently left the audience on the edge of their seats.

The potent comedic tone of this piece was magnificently carried by Wesley Mahon (Algernon Moncrieff) and Sydney Rathe (Cicily Cardew). Mahon’s comedic timing was remarkable, and his energy rarely if ever dipped, especially in moments of extreme physical difficulty, somersaulting and jumping over couches to name a few. Alongside him, Rathe’s logical character choices, like using a higher-pitched accent, added appropriately to her humorous and young persona. In addition, her unique use of dry humor was pulled off exceptionally, which can be challenging for many. Memorable performances also included Brandon Dawson (Lane) and Olivia Byrne (Merriman). Even though the two had limited stage time, they made an impact on the story in a light and refreshing manner.

The show ran rather smoothly as well, thanks to the zealous technical team. Stage management and crew, lead by Alyssa Hartley, successfully organized backstage maneuvers and kept the production running without many flaws. Props (Nikolas Serrano), although limited, were time appropriate and embodied the essence of the time periods. Similarly, hair and makeup was not as prominent as it could have been, but did the job and was time appropriate, especially when it came to the elderly.

From the whimsical characters to the side-splitting humor, American Heritage School’s production was anything but earnest. Seriously people, this trivial comedy is one for the books!

*** *** ***

By Nya Hedman of South Plantation High School

Mayhem, love, and alter egos, the perfect combination for a satirical success in American Heritage School’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest.

Written by Oscar Wilde, the show depicts an over-the-top comedy that challenges the social norms of the Victorian Era. Originally opened on February 14th, 1895 at the St. James’s Theatre, this play led to the climax and downfall of Wilde’s career. The show follows the story of John Worthing (Frederick Bredemeyer) and Algernon Moncreiff (Wesley Mahon), as they attempt to win the hands of two women under the shared alter ego, Ernest.

American Heritage’s production truly encompassed the satire of the play by changing the time period from the Victorian Era to the 1960’s. By changing the setting of the play to an era that emphasized extremely revolutionary values, they created a strong focus on the changing social structures highlighted in the show. This change explores what Oscar Wilde’s writing may have been like, had he lived in a time where he could write freely about controversial topics.

John, played by Frederick Bredemeyer, had a commendable performance with a fervent character that was consistently humorous. Although his acting choices were strong, he never allowed them to overpower those around him, and was able to brilliantly compliment each character he interacted with. Wesley Mahon’s portrayal of the always hungry Algernon, was absolutely hysterical, providing a perfect blend of Victorian aristocrat and 1960’s rocker. He brilliantly mastered the character’s wit and sarcasm and navigated his dialogue with perfect comedic timing.

The cast provided an undeniable energy that resonated within each character and played directly to the whimsicality of the show. Although the energy paired well with the “comedy of manners” style of the production, the ensemble often times seemed to be competing for the spotlight because of the strong caricatures being presented. However, the entire cast must be commended for their ardent character choices and enthusiasm throughout the play. Some commendable performances included Lane and Merriman played by Brandon Dawson and Olivia Byrne, respectively, for their unrelenting humor throughout the play, even when they were not speaking.

The technical elements were simple yet suited the show extremely well. The set was very effective and the scene transitions, though a bit lengthy, were very entertaining and ran exceptionally smooth. The hair and makeup element was very nicely executed and efficiently embraced and emphasized the 1960’s era in each design.

Overall, the cast and crew of American Heritage produced a wonderful show that left a resounding impression, and truly explained The Importance of Being Earnest.

*** *** ***