As the year winds down, things are just heating up in Proctor’s Drama department. Opening night of the spring musical is fast approaching (Friday at 7:00 PM is the first show), and the hard work that students and faculty have put into this show will finally be on display.
Throughout the past week, the cast and crew of Once On This Island embarked on tech week: a busy and stressful time for everyone involved. Tech week is packed with dress rehearsals and working out all the technical intricacies that go into the show. Prior to tech week, the cast had never performed on the real set, so there are a lot of things that get worked out like the timing of people’s ‘blocking’ (movement on stage) as well as matching up the sound and lighting cues to the actors lines and movements. With all the work put into this week, it's no surprise that Jen Summers describes it as “hell week”, but a good kind of “hell week”, the kind that ends with a remarkable performance for the entire community.
The hard work, moments of frustration, and rehearsals deep into the night are what make the show so rewarding for everyone. No one else aside from our theater family has seen the long hours, evening rehearsals, and sleepless nights replaying lines and choreography. No one has seen the work of the tech crew building an incredible set (wait until you see it!) and programming hundreds upon hundreds of light and sound cues. No one has seen the dedication of director Jen Summers, choreographer Gavin King, tech director Starr Fair, musical directors Alyssa Costa and Judy Hayward, or master costume designer Joan Saunders in action. For the cast and crew, this is their time to show off.
I spoke with Nelson Makechnie ‘19 about the show and he believes that this is truly a unique show, “This show is special because of the layers of plot. The story told isn’t the true basis of the show. The setting is a village where a story is being told to a young girl, and that story is what the audience will see as well. It’s a really intellectual way to portray the value of oral storytelling in cultures, as well as an example of how a narrative can evolve over time. Throughout the show, the characters change; actors portraying the gods are also storytellers. While it’s a fun story in an almost island-style pastoral setting, told to a young girl to calm her down, it also tackles social issues and the economic imbalances around the world.”
Nelson has been heavily involved with drama at Proctor all his years here. This year he plays Daniel, the rich heir of a hotel chain who falls under the care of Ti Moune (played my Tori Braley ‘20). Sam Wyckoff ‘19 added insights about the show. “I love the show,” he says enthusiastically, “it has a great balance between making the audience think and giving them a good time. People really notice the technical side of the show on top of the performance by the hard working actors. There have been so many hours put into this production that if we typed the number, it wouldn’t fit into this blog.”
Essence McClain ‘20 has emerged as a powerful presence on stage (as well as on the basketball court) over the past three years and plays the role of Demon of Death in this show. She reflects on the play, “The show is special because it’s a show that brings everyone together. In this show there are a lot of disagreements among characters, but as actors we have a great time performing it and hope everyone has as much fun watching it as we do performing.”
Tonight’s full dress rehearsal was a success. Posters have been hung around campus and excitement is building for opening night. Be sure to reserve your tickets at the link below and we hope to see you Friday and Saturday nights at 7:00 PM in the Wilkins Meeting House for Proctor Academy’s production of Once on this Island!