By Iryna Shkurhan ‘18 and Maria Martchiuk ‘18
A Night on Broadway, a production put on by the Theater Production class, blew the audience away with the immense talent and months of hard work brought forward by both students and members of the faculty.
Unlike a conventional musical, the show was a unique review of scenes and musical numbers from various popular Broadway shows with the inclusion of several movies. This allows 24 students, and a few faculty members, to showcase their diverse talents in parts of twelve different shows ranging from the legendary Hamilton to the classic The Breakfast Club.
Choosing to perform something like Romeo and Juliet comes with no cost because it’s public domain, but putting on a show like Aida or Sound of Music cost close to $3,000 in previous years, just for the rights to use the show. Doing a review saved thousands of dollars because the school was allowed to use the music from Broadway shows without paying a fee.
Students were able to perform without the restrictions that come with doing a traditional musical. Many students knew what scenes they wanted to do from the beginning, and spent less time learning lines and lyrics than in other years. It gave them the freedom to perform the scenes that they enjoyed without being limited by a script.
“I like this format because it shows off all the diverse talents of our people, our students and our staff members” said Ms. Liz Bommarito said. “The kids are so awesome, I’m just so happy they got to do pieces they wanted to do, they came off so well, that the audience received it so well.”
One truly unique scene from the play was Midwood Sweat from the Broadway musical Sweat, which chronicles the strains placed on a group of friends whose jobs are threatened by factory layoffs. Students interviewed employees in the building from various unions to get a sense of how they benefit from them. They incorporated replies into a scene where people in Midwood discuss how their union helps them with the daily struggle.
Students selected almost all the songs, scenes and dances that they wanted to do and worked in groups all of spring term in preparation for the night of the show. The choreography was all done by the students and those in stage crew worked on the playbill, created posters, and took pictures of the cast. Props and backdrops were either reused from other shows of created with the help of Dr. Pysher. Many of the costumes were also reused from previous years, taken from closets or created by students.
The faculty also managed to temporarily steal some of the spotlight away from students with the comical and heartfelt acts that they selected on their own.
Dr. Ernest Pysher isn’t new to appearing in school plays and has participated in the annual spring show for years. With many years of acting experience under his belt he always blows students away in any role that he takes on whether it’s Billy from Carousel or Pontius Pilate from Jesus Christ Superstar.
“He’s in every show and if there isn’t a part for him, we create one for him, he’s a true actor at heart. It’s not hard to convince him at all, it’s not even about the singing it’s about acting out the role, he brings so much character to his singing,” said Ms. Bommarito.
Mr. Albert Peterson isn’t a stranger to the Midwood stage. When he was a student here, he would sing in the spring productions. His performance as Elsa from Frozen surprised the audience and got a laugh out of everyone.
“I picked my part, I love Disney and Frozen is definitely my favorite. I listen to these songs at the gym and I didn’t mind playing a different gender,” said Mr. Peterson. “The song has a deeper meaning behind it where there are two sisters and one is so excited for the ball and the other is timid and doesn’t want to be put out. The message of the song was significant because it says if there is an opportunity go and grab it and don’t let it pass by.”
Many students who came to the play were pleasantly surprised with how great it was. They didn’t expect to see certain performances from teachers and were in awe of the talent that our Hornets have.
“I personally enjoyed the school play because of the combination of themes and all the singing and dancing performances really surprised me,” said Sylvia Kerzhner ‘18. It was especially very entertaining watching my teachers perform themselves because we never really see them outside of the classroom like that.”
Amanda McBain ’18 said, “My favorite part about the play was seeing how the cast was able to accurately depict the different scenes, by the way of their clothing and their acting skills. I learned that our drama department and staff have so many talented members.”
Mr. Max Pinsky, who played the guitar and sang with students, performed for the first time in the school play and plans to participate in future years. “It was exhilarating! Performing in front of a supportive audience is one of the best feelings in the world. The fact that I was performing alongside some wonderful students made it even better,” said Mr. Pinksy.
Ms. Bommarito hopes to continue with the review format for a few more years. “This is what it’s about. It’s about bringing these kids together, who don’t know each other, but who recognize each other’s talents and can support each other,” said Ms. Bommarito.