School shows are outlets of creative thought that serve to unify the community in a shared passion for the arts. Unfortunately for SHS, the most recent performance of Guys and Dolls has confirmed that our drama department needs refocusing. Maroon would like to start by saying that this is no way an attack on those students who make up the drama club or act in the productions. The raw talent at SHS is astounding; the leads have fantastic voices, the ensemble is enthusiastic, and the props are entertaining. What Maroon is calling for is a thorough reevaluation of the department leadership to ensure that our directors, choreographers, and tech-crew match the talent and effort of the students. Although there is a theater expression that “the show must go on,” Maroon urges the administration to first review the department structure in order to ensure improvement in future productions.
Let’s start with the cold facts about the performance of Guys and Dolls. Although Friday was opening night, many seats in the auditorium were empty. While this may be partly due to an apathetic student body, just like a sports team that fails to attract fans, the drama department is responsible for the appeal of their shows. The play began on a sour note (no pun intended) when the microphone of one of the female leads was initially off, which rendered her first song nearly inaudible. A similar incident occured last year with The Cat in The Hat’s mic during the performance of Suessical The Musical. Although we recognize that rehearsal time this year was certainly a victim of Hurricane Sandy, it was disappointing to see basic tech errors being made. The play hit a new low when apparently the wrong scene was performed too early, prompting the actors to awkwardly dance around
the stage without direction. While the problem was being fixed backstage, the audience was forced to sit in the dark for over 10 minutes. The technical difficulties were fi nally resolved when the tech manager came out to apologize, defensively asserting that this type of thing happens all the time on Broadway. To paraphrase his comment, just check out Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark. It is important to note that the play went on without any major errors the rest of the weekend, and many of the cast members expressed a sense of pride in their performances. And mistakes can happen in all walks of life. Yet the degree of error on the stage Friday was not just a n
occasional slip of a line or a forgotten cue. It was the collapse of a show and ultimately, a reflection of the department as a whole.
Another critical problem is that people are simply not excited about the choice of plays, mainly because of a pervasive sense of redundancy. When Almost, Maine was announced as the winter drama, seniors could easily recall that the play had already been performed less than four years ago. Maroon finds it hard to believe there is such a shortage of drama material that some students can’t even make it to graduation before they are forced to watch reruns. Even Guys and Dolls for a high school play has become somewhat of a cliche as it has already been performed twice at SHS in the last ten years. And while there may be a time and a place for classic shows, we should also start selecting plays that better reflect the progressive spirit of SHS.
Yet much of the blame does not fall so much on individual people but on the equipment itself, especially since some of the technology the drama department is forced to use seems outdated. Specifically regarding audio quality, the microphones distort the actors’ and actresses’ voices and sound as unnatural as someone speaking into a megaphone. A better developed lighting system would enhance the actors’ on-stage appearance and make each production seem more fine tuned. Finally, many of the auditorium seats are broken or in poor condition, which is necessary to improving the appreciation of performances. Although it is certainly an investment, updating this equipment can be a simple solution to many technical difficulties and, more importantly, empower the actors and actresses by expressing support for the hard work they do.
In the drama department’s defense, the most important thing to remember is that each production is a high school play performed, not by trained artists, but by hard-working students for caring members of the community. Yet to protect feelings at the cost of ignoring an area of our school that can be improved is not helpful to anyone. Maroon can recall a time not too long ago when the club churned out hit after hit, whether How to Succeed in Business or Anything Goes, and we hope the department can return to its former glory. To put this into show biz terms, it’s clear that the drama department has “broken a leg.” Maroon believes it’s time we get an x-ray and repair that broken bone.