Category Archives: Entertainment

2020 Drama Festival Filled with Powerful Performances

This year, Hanover High School’s Drama Club hosted the 2020 METG Drama Festival preliminary round in February. It was an excellent and long day of superb theater!

So how does festival work? Each school that attends performs a short, one act play for a judges’ panel. The school needs to place their set in five minutes, perform their show in 40 and take down their set in another five. Once a play starts, no one can enter or leave the theater. In addition, the judges should not be able to hear the name of the school performing before the play starts.

Viewing Festival is a lot for the brain. Eight pieces of theater is a lot to comprehend. However, the day flies by and the students from different schools have a chance to interact with other “theater kids” from around the area. So what was each show like? I’ll walk you through my favorite parts of the day.

Starting off the day strong was The Clark School, from Rowley, Mass., in their production of “Lila the Werewolf” by Peter S. Beagle. In the show, the character Farrell, played by Sean Bax, deals with learning his girlfriend, Lila, played by Caroline Lucey, is a werewolf. Through the show, you meet Farrell’s friend and narrator Ben, portrayed by Christian Grant, the super of the building who’s out to get Lila (Ryan Trabulsi) and Lila’s intense mother Bernice (Rose DiNoto). The show was filled with dark humor. I really enjoyed Grant’s performance as Ben. I thought he brought a level of humor to the supernatural as well as carried the show excellently with his narration. He and Bax, who played Farrell, won awards for their stellar performance. The set design, in addition, did an excellent job of blending the supernatural and the real world together with their use of shadow puppets.

The next show of the day was “Radium Girls” by D.W. Gregory performed by Southeastern Regional Vocational High School. The story follows Grace, portrayed in this production by Colleen Wood, who unveils the mystery of why all the girls who worked at the Radium Factory are getting sick. Through lawsuits and publicity, Grace needs to make a choice between doing what is easy and doing what is right. My favorite part of this production was that all of the main characters, including the male leads, were portrayed by women. Whether or not this was done intentionally, I thought it was a great way to highlight the historic significance of this tragic event. Another excellent aspect was the set and makeup design. Their set featured an interesting use of large platforms and a large clock that continued moving throughout the whole performance to highlight the mortality of the girls. The makeup in the show was fantastic. The makeup designer did an excellent job of applying prosthetics to the girls very quickly in order to make them look more sick as the show progressed. She was, rightly so, recognized by the judges. My personal favorite performance was Coleen Malley as Arthur Roeder, the factory head. She did an excellent job of portraying the wide range of emotions and stress that Arthur experiences throughout the play. I loved her performance and so did the judges!

One of the best plays of the day, and my personal favorite, was “Monster” by Don Zolidis. Performed by Weymouth High School, Monster is centered around Mary Shelley’s 19th century writing of “Frankenstein.”  Shelley formed the idea for Frankenstein from a dream she had while competing in a ghost story competition with her friends. The play takes place during this ghost story competition at Lord Byron’s summer house in Switzerland. Whilst telling the stories, there is a “Ghost ensemble” that performs them. The play touches on experiences from Mary and Percy Shelley’s life that influenced her ideas and her writing for Frankenstein. While some of it is added for theme purposes, the story is very historically accurate. While I would love to dive into Mary’s life experience, for purposes of brevity, I recommend you watch a documentary on Mary Shelley’s life. Some of the most notable performances included the ghost ensemble; Lord Byron, played by Zach Norton; and John Polidori, played by James Harmon, who were all recognized by the judges. While she was not recognized, I thought that Abigail Huard’s portrayal of Mary was fantastic. I thought she carried the show brilliantly and was exactly how I imagined Mary to be in my head. Overall, I think what brought the show to the next level was their set design and technical effects. There were black lights and strobe lights that really set the mood of tension when the ghost stories were being told. The set was fantastic.  When the actors moved to different places, it really felt like they were moving through an old house. The show was not the most funny nor emotionally powerful of the day but, combined with the superb acting, technical effects and set, the show was one of the best.

The next show was our very own Hanover High School performing, in my opinion, the funniest show of the day, “The Scheme of the Driftless Shifter” by Carolyn Lane. This show is, as one judge put it, “an intentional trainwreck.” There was a “fight” in the audience, a disgruntled cleaning lady, fake snow, lines dropped and a man playing a dog, all while a cast is trying to perform a very serious production. This show was the epitome of hilarious. I was keeling over in my seat laughing, on the verge of tears and peeing myself. The accents, for starters – notably Ben Mannings’s Scottish accent as Henry Pompington, – really added to the idea that the cast of the show was trying to put on a very serious production and failing miserably. There were many times in the show that you thought it was ending and the curtain would close, and then a new chaotic scene would start. It was hysterical and, by far, the funniest show of the day. Elise Falvey, Maia Arbia and Peter Bell were all recognized for their performances as Petunia Pompington, the Stage Manager and the Piano Player, respectively.

Picking up after lunch was Lynnfield High School performing “Brilliant Traces” by Cindy Lou Johnson. This was a two person show! The entire show was carried by Grace Mealy as Rossanah DeLuce and Greyson Wainwright as Henry Harry. In the play, Rossanah arrived at Henry’s door in the middle of an Alaskan whiteout dressed in a wedding dress. Through the course of a couple days, the two deal with the aftermath of the situation and learn about each other. I thought that the show was very impressive. However, at times it felt to me as if it was artsy and different, and flaunted it. But, that’s more a commentary on the writing and directorial direction and not on the performance. I thought that Mealy and Wainwright did an excellent job of displaying the sudden intimacy of the characters as well as the humanity the two discover within themselves through their meeting. I thought the lighting and sound design were quite bland; however, there isn’t too much to be done with a show that is so chemistry-driven. The set design was beautiful. The cabin was very realistic and utilized angles very well to create an excellent sense of space. From an audience standpoint, the use of props allowed the show to feel natural and like you were witnessing a real tender moment between two people. Overall the show was not my favorite but a very interesting experience and an opportunity to see two fabulous student actors.

“Anybody for Tea?” by C.B. Gifford was the show performed by Notre Dame Academy. This show was about six old spinsters who start to murder each other in order to lure the “very attractive” Captain Williams (Clare Kennedy) to their house. A common compliment I’ve had for festival has been the set design. Notre Dame’s set was fabulous. The house of the old ladies felt exactly what you would expect to see in a house with six old spinsters. The lighting design was interesting because it utilized lamps on the stage, but the sound was a little bland. Overall, the show was a little too slow for me. However, the six spinsters’ performances were so accurate. Their body language and style of speaking really led me to believe they where old ladies. My favorite performance was Connaught Riley as Hildegarde Hodge who (spoiler) is the one who commits the two murders. Her confession was hysterical and added to the whimsy of the darker content. “Anybody for Tea” was not my type of show, but it was a delightful mystery and a funny performance.

Everett High School performed “Augusta & Noble” by Carlos Murillo. This show brought tears to my eyes. I could neither classify it as a comedy or drama but rather a wholesome and important story to tell. The story follows Gabi Castillo, a daughter of immigrants from Mexico who is struggling with her identity. Through a blend of dreams and the real world, Gabi learns that despite being an immigrant, she belongs here. The show was sweet and shed light on real struggles of disadvantaged immigrant families. Jhalyshka Feliciano’s performance as Gabi was beautiful and I found it very easy to sympathize with her. Feliciano was awarded for her performance. The lighting design had to be my favorite part of the show. There were parts in the show where they would be in the desert or at school, and I thought the lighting design done by Bryan de Souza really made the show come together as a whole.

The most powerful performance of the day for me personally was “My Love Lies Frozen In the Ice” by The Dead Rabbits and performed by Boston Latin School. Like “Augusta & Noble,” I really couldn’t classify this show as either a comedy or a drama, but it was nothing like the show prior to it. The play follows Mathilde, played by Alexa Wong, as her brother Solomon (Ian Wright) and fiance Nils (Calvin Szulc) develop a balloon that will carry them to the North Pole. They then leave her behind, only to never return. This play was filled with audience interactions, improvisation and heart-wrenching moments. One of the coolest technical aspects of the show was that a large balloon was thrown into the audience as well as a small balloon that floated from the booth down to the stage. I applaud the technical crew for including such fun interactive moments and the actors improvising with the small mishaps. What made the show so powerful for me was Alexa Wong’s performance as Mathilde. She was able to clearly narrate and carry the story. She had these amazing moments of hilarity and many moments of sadness and heartbreak, all of which were delivered with clarity. She was lovable and relatable and one of my favorite performances of the day. She earned a performance award from the judges.

At the end of the day, I think all of these shows deserved to move on to the next round of competition, which was unfortunately delayed – and then cancelled – because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Each was so different but equally as wonderful. The three that advanced were “Monster,” “My Love Lies Frozen In the Ice” and “Augusta & Noble.” 

Latest HHS Musical was a Smash Hit!

By Tim Sullivan

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown was a smash hit this past week! The cast, crew, pit orchestra, and production staff put together an amazing performance that truly captivated the audience, including myself. 

I saw the show twice, once on opening night with the wonderful cast of Kyle Knight as Charlie Brown, Michelle Sylvester as Sally, Emma Gannon as Lucy, Ben Manning as Schroeder, Christopher Manning as Linus, and Julia Cross as Snoopy. I just had to go back for a second time and see the understudy cast which starred Kat Sheridan as Sally, Elise Falvey as Lucy, and Erin Foley as Snoopy. Both shows featured a colorful, cheery ensemble which included Brendan Connolly, Rosie Danehy, Kyle Donnelly, Norah Flanders, Callia Gilligan, Jordan Kennedy, Daniel Manning, Emma Massey, Anthony Pierotti, Harper Seelye, and Erin Shea.

This show delivered meaningful messages to the audience about growing up, feeling alone, and finding happiness. These messages were conveyed through the lighthearted comedy and youthful innocence that is classic for any sort of Charlie Brown production – something the cast pulled off beautifully. Each musical number was energetic and engaging, not to mention several were completely student-choreographed! The Indian’s own Callia Galligan was dance captain for the production. Callia said she has always wanted to do something like this but has never had the opportunity and this was definitely a highlight of the musical this year for her. It wasn’t too much of a challenge to translate the music into dance, she said, but it “took a lot of thought to determine what steps would translate the energy or theme of a certain song.” 

The cast’s ability to disguise themselves as younger kids who are just growing up was quite impressive. The border between being a kid and becoming mature was shown throughout the show. It was shown in Lucy’s desire to be queen and her eventual appreciation for Charlie Brown being himself. It was shown in Sally’s pursuit of adventure but also her determination. This time of growth was also shown in Linus’ need to be accompanied by his blanket in My Blanket and Me and his almost comical intelligence. I was blown away by Snoopy’s portrayal both times that I saw the show. Both Julia and Erin brought Snoopy to life as a lovable and witty character. Specifically in the number Suppertime, which was student-choreographed, It was hard to keep myself from not giving a standing ovation in the middle of the show. Although I have no idea what dogs think, somehow this felt right! 

Charlie Brown’s character highlights the innocence and fear that comes with feeling alone, having a crush, and learning to appreciate who you are. Kyle Knight, who played Charlie Brown, said it was an amazing experience!  Kyle has been doing musicals since his sophomore year and playing the title role this year was, he said, “both a big responsibility and something I was very excited to do!” Kyle was happy to be able to perform with some of his really close friends in the cast and crew. When I asked him if he felt for Charlie Brown or could relate to the character he was playing, he said, “How could you not? He’s a kid who just can’t get a break and wants the best for himself but can’t seem to figure it out and I’m sure everyone can relate to that at the very least a little bit.” \

 

The Pit Orchestra made the musical that much more enjoyable and brought outstanding emotion to the show. Senior Una Davenport enjoyed “making new friends, memories, and getting to play fun music” in the pit the past three years. The last three musicals at HHS have been different each year and Una was glad that You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown had, “more room for comedic expression, which was fun to explore.” Una appreciated the constant encouragement from Mr. Wade and Mr. Harden and how much time they devoted over the short period they have to prepare for the musical each year. This year, Una played both electric and upright bass, which she hasn’t played in the pit before. “Overall, the job of the pit is to make the cast sound as good as we can and their phenomenal talent combined with the direction from Mr. Fahey made it effortless,” Una said. Now that the musical is over, it is bittersweet, she said, adding that she is grateful for the memories she made and the new meaning to the word Happiness she discovered.  

My favorite number was certainly Happiness and the powerful lyrics “Happiness is anyone and anything at all that’s loved by you.” I also loved when the cast came together in both Beethoven Day and The Book Report. Make sure to follow @hanoverhighdramaclub on Instagram to stay up to date with the drama club. I am so glad that I was able to witness such greatness put on by our talented peers this past week!  

Drama Programs are Growing; Are Budgets Keeping Pace?

By Callia Gilligan

Theater. Whether musicals or plays, theater is an art form, a way of telling a story. Theater can be colorful, sad or happy, include big dance numbers or stay simple with minimal choreography and small casts.

Some say Broadway doesn’t have the same appeal it used to, others say there has never been a better time for it. I think both are true. Playwrights and directors have steered away from the classic sound of Broadway musicals such as those written by Rodgers and Hammerstein or  Stephen Sondheim. Many new and somewhat foreign technical aspects, themes and concepts have been added to Broadway, with shows such as Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, Mean Girls and Be More Chill. These shows have pop-rock scores and are drawing in younger audiences. Are classic musicals fading? Yes. Is Broadway dying? No.

In addition to driving up the box office, these trends in theater have encouraged more young people to participate in their high school drama programs. As a theater kid myself, I think this is great. Drama departments are always better with bigger casts. This however, requires a bigger budget.  If you look at television shows like Glee that are set in high schools, the music and drama programs are often underfunded. But does this reflect real life? Are real high school drama programs underfunded? This got me thinking about our school. Do we have a self-sustaining drama club? What about other schools? Is high school theater on the South Shore adequately funded?

So, I took to the Internet, emailing drama teachers from schools around the South Shore and requesting interviews. Mr. Christopher Lacy, drama club adviser at Norwell High School, is very experienced, having directed 89 shows in 18 years. The budget allocated by the town to the drama program each year is $10,000,  according to Mr. Lacy. “The rest is funded from box office sales,” he said. Norwell does not perform musicals, which are often more expensive than traditional plays, but that is not because of the cost, Mr. Lacy said. “People these days really only know musicals,” he added. “We could do this but we won’t because I am first and foremost an acting coach and non-musical plays are a more effective vehicle for that purpose.”

When asked if the drama club could benefit from increased funding, Mr. Lacy replied, “Of course, more is always better.” Yet, Norwell seems to get by on its budget and box office receipts; the drama club does not conduct any independent fundraising.

Mrs. Gwen Chapman, Director of Fine and Performing Arts in the Pembroke School District, reported that the school committee budgets $9,500 to the drama program each year. This is $500 less than what Norwell is given. How much can you do with $500? A lot. Securing the rights to perform a show varies from $75-$250 per performance depending on the license. If it costs $250 and a high school chooses to perform the show three times, that’s $750 from the budget. That’s before adding in the cost of sets, costumes, pit orchestras, etc.  The majority of the drama budget is spent on the fall musical, which Mrs. Chapman said costs around $13,000 to produce. The drama club holds one large fundraiser every year that raises about $1,000-1,500 and covers 10 percent of the drama budget. Even then, the club is just barely producing one musical. The cost of putting on any additional shows must be funded by ticket sales, Mrs. Chapman said.

Mrs. Anita Levy-Sisk, the drama teacher at Hingham High School, is in a more difficult budget situation. The town does not provide a budget to the drama club, though some stipends are given. The school relies largely on the its box office sales to produce the next show. The fall musical brings in a lot of revenue ($4,000-$6,000 in profits) but they are lucky if their spring play breaks even, Mrs. Levy-Sisk said. The majority of their budget is spent on securing rights for the performances, so the school runs 3-4 fundraisers each year to supplement profits from ticket sales.

Hanover operates on a different model than these other schools. In 2015, the town created the Hanover Performing Arts Company (HPAC). Operating under the Family And Community Enrichment (FACE) department, HPAC centralized production – and funding – for musicals for grades 1-12. This move established drama programs at each of the elementary schools for the first time, and began to develop a foundation for the future of performing arts in the district, according to FACE director Kelly Lawrence.

At the high school level, the drama program is part of the curriculum, meaning, it’s funded by the school budget as other classes are in the school. The Drama Club, which puts on a festival show and spring play each year, is a separate extra curricular similar to The Indian or Robotics Club. The school provides a stipend for the adviser, and the club, like all others, is “supported mainly through fundraising efforts,” Lawrence said. The Drama Club operates independently except for the annual musical, which falls under the umbrella of HPAC. Additionally, the Drama Club receives from HPAC the assistance of a coordinator experienced in stage management and the support of its “infrastructure and resources.” Budgets for school shows are “set depending on the needs of each,” Lawrence said. HPAC is a self-funded division of FACE, Lawrence continued, supported by student fees, ticket and concession revenue and grants for resources used to support all productions. The HPAC coordinator position is funded by FACE, Lawrence said. “At this time, (HPAC) is unable to support that cost without increasing fees to student/families.”

“Our goal is to continue to develop quality programs in all areas of the performing arts to increase our overall budget for the HPAC division,” Lawrence said.

While this model has done a lot for the drama program, I’m concerned about the reliance on fundraising and grants. In fact, when comparing drama programs at the four South Shore districts, it seems that while they’re supported in some way by their towns, they would undoubtedly be able to do more with larger budgets. Concerned with paying off costs and putting on the next show, clubs must spend time planning fundraisers that may or may not make enough money to meet their needs. Theater is so magical for the people involved, and it would be disheartening to think drama teachers are struggling to give this joy to their students. I wanted to know if my friends on sports teams had to fundraise as well. I was surprised that the answer was yes. Perhaps the bigger question we need to ask is not whether drama programs are underfunded, but whether all extracurricular activities could use more support.

D&D Club takes off at HHS

By Matthew O’Hara

The Dungeons and Dragons Club was founded in 2016 by John Salvucci and has quickly become one of the largest clubs in Hanover High School. It boasts around 20 active members who frequently attend its weekly meetings on Thursdays from 5-7 pm. The primary function of the club is to play Dungeons and Dragons, a fantasy role playing game that combines creativity, strategy, and luck. The D&D Club is divided into three separate groups, with each group running its own unique campaign. These adventures can vary from slaying dragons, to rescuing characters in peril, to arresting criminals, to any sort of adventure you can think of. D&D promotes creative freedom, allowing you to make unique characters with interesting skill sets. D&D also promotes team-building and cooperation, enabling members to make new friends with people from different grades, classes and interests.

Salvucci, who is now a senior, was inspired to play D&D after listening to a podcast by Wil Wheaton, star of the movie Stand by Me and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Salvucci petitioned the school to allow the use the media room for the club. While the club started out small, word quickly spread and the club soon had over 20 members, more than what anyone involved expected. Salvucci says his favorite part of every meeting is when “the D&D session ends and everybody stays inside the media room to talk about all the crazy things that happened in their campaigns, forcing me to usher everyone out of the room in order to finish up on time.” As the club founder and leader, he added, “the excitement and passion that everybody has for this club is phenomenal.”

HHS Drama Club Earns Trip to State Festival Semis

By Callia Gilligan

The Hanover High Drama Club has a lot to celebrate after reaching the semi-finals of the 2019 Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild Festival. Hanover performed the play “At the Bottom of Lake Missoula,” written by Ed Monk and directed by Mr. Collin Fahey. It is the story of a college student, played by junior Maia Arbia, whose entire family is killed in a tornado.

The Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild (METG) puts on a competition every year of 40-minute short plays. Schools from all over the state perform their plays in front of a panel of judges. The top two schools from  each of  the 14 regional prelims move on to the semifinals, with the hope of eventually making it to the state final.

For the second straight year, Hanover hosted the local preliminary round, a huge ordeal that requires coordination and cooperation from all parties. Kathryn Sheridan, a sophomore who took part in the festival, said that she enjoyed hosting the March 2 prelim, where 8 schools performed. “It’s cool to see people come to our school and perform on our stage,” she said.

Going into festival, there was a lot of anticipation for how Hanover would measure up against strong competition. The Weymouth High Drama Club won the state competition last year, and Hanover was set to compete against them in the prelim. Combining acting, lighting and music in unique ways, Hanover’s performance finished in second place behind Weymouth and advanced to the semifinals.

As you can imagine, Hanover’s accomplishment was huge! Kyle Knight, a junior, was at first shocked to find out they where moving on. “This is the first time for Hanover and it was really cool to be a part of a team,” he said.

After the prelim, Hanover continued to work to perfect the production. The cast worked on their projection, Sheridan said, and keeping “onstage connections with each other fresh.”

The semi-finals were held March 16 at Brockton High School, and Hanover entered the competition ready to take on the challenge.  While Hanover did not advance to the final, several cast members received accolades, including senior Fred Trankels for acting and Peter Bell, James Kadra and Will Nunnery for the accompanying percussion.

The cast and crew deserves a big cheer for all the work they put into this show. Festival is “a chance for drama and theater students to learn from and share with each other,” said Dr. Walsh, HHS Humanities director. ” It’s a day when lots of long-term friendships are made and students get to spend time with like-minded young theater artists.” Congratulations again to Mr. Fahey, Mrs. McEvoy-Duane and the entire cast and crew. 

Highlights of 2019 Oscars

The 2019 Oscar Awards Show had some great moments, wins and speeches. Let’s touch on some of the most monumental:

The Best Picture award is one of the most anticipated of the season. This year, there were eight nominees: Black Panther, Roma, A Star is Born, Vice, Bohemian Rhapsody, BlacKkKlansman, The Favourite, and Green BookGreen Book, a movie about the struggles of African Americans during the time of segregation, took the award.

  1. Writer/director Spike Lee won the first Oscar of his  long career for Best Adapted Screenplay for BlacKkKlansman. His speech touched on a lot of topics including Black History Month and the next presidential election. His speech ended with a call to action: “The 2020 presidential election is around the corner. Let’s all mobilize. Let’s all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate. Let’s do the right thing!” This was a reference to his 1989 film about race relations called Do the Right Thing. His speech triggered a lot of controversy, including a response tweeted by President Trump, who called Lee’s comments a “racist hit.”

Spike Lee after winning the award for Best Adapted Screenplay

Some of my favorite and least favorite Oscar moments were from the short films! I enjoyed the animated Bao and I was really happy with its Oscar win. The acceptance speech was simple and full of thanks and gratitude. While I was happy with the win for Period. End of Sentence as it focused on some important topics, I didn’t have a great response to the acceptance speech. Some people were thrilled with Rayka Zehtabchi’s joke, “I’m not crying because I’m on my period.” I though it negated the whole purpose of the movie. It was a cringe-worthy moment.

The dumpling boy from the Pixar Animated Short “Bao”

Overall, I was, for the most part, pretty happy with the 2019 Oscars. I think it was a better awards show than many we have seen in recent years – even without an official host – and that is a huge accomplishment.

 

Super Bowl Halftime Show Fizzles Out

By Lexi Rynning

I was very disappointed with Super Bowl LIII’s  Pepsi halftime show, featuring Maroon 5, Travis Scott and Big Boi. I went into the show with such high expectations and it did nothing for me. There was a lot of flash for very little substance. The song choices, which included Maroon 5’s hits “This Love” and “Girls Like You,” could have been better. I was bored. I wanted to jump around and sing along but I couldn’t because it was so unexciting. I hated the outfit choice of Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine as well. It was a poorly executed halftime show with very little storyline, nothing to get me engaged. Yeah, sure, fire is cool, but if you don’t have anything backing it up, it’s pointless to include it in the first place.

I think that Travis Scott, best known for “Sicko Mode,” did a decent job but I feel like he should have cut out the curse words in his songs to make it a family-friendly concert. With all the words being bleeped out, you could hardly recognize the song. I was very upset with Big Boi’s performance. This is more of a personal gripe because when I heard he was performing, I got very excited to hear his hit song “All Night.” He didn’t even end up singing it.

I think the stage setup was very boring and static. With the huge budget they most likely had, the producers could have utilized more technology and maybe even some auto tune.  Overall, I think the halftime show didn’t live up to the hype, and many critics agreed, using words such as “bland” and “underwhelming” to describe it.The Atlantic magazine called it “designed to be forgotten.”