Advanced Theater ‘Plays On’ in Fall Show

As the lights dim and the set grows quiet, the audience tenses with anticipation, eager for the talented students to bring the play to life before their eyes. From witty humor to romantic betrayal, advanced theater staged a show that illuminated the behind-the-scenes rush of a drama production.

Junior Jewelia Libejas-Suarez directed advanced theater’s fall play “Play On!” which took place Nov. 3-4 at 7 p.m. in the Black Box Theater. Starring senior Rhiannon Hawkins, juniors Niki Abbaszadeh, Ethan Chan,  Deniz Ertan, Kody Lin, Sanika Nihalani, David Sloan, Tara Vatandoust and Jason Wu Chen and sophomore Andrea Morales-Concepcion, the play was written by Rick Abbot and produced by the advanced theater and theater tech classes. 

“I think it was well received, and I think [the students] were very proud of their work,” drama and tech theater teacher Samantha Sanford said. “If you had seen their first tech rehearsal it would have looked very different from their opening night, but they definitely did pull it all together.”

Play preparation spanned one month, according to Sanford. After reading through synopses of various play scripts and choosing a show, advanced theater students decided who was going to direct through a voting process. Auditions and casting were followed by staging, two days of tech rehearsal and two performances. 

“We had a lot of bumps along the way, but I think once it actually came to show week, we really got into it,” Sloan said. 

“Play On!” follows a community theater group putting on the play “Murder Most Foul” written by Phyllis Montague (Vatandoust). Montague keeps changing the script at the last minute before opening night — much to the annoyance of the actors — while director Geraldine Dunbar (Morales-Concepcion) attempts to stage the play without the interference of the thespians and the pretentious playwright. 

The audience’s laughter and buzz was prominent during comical moments, such as when characters “forgot” their lines or nervously scrambled to meet cues on opening night.

“Honestly, everybody lived in their role, it was so good,” Libejas-Suarez said. “Over the past couple weeks, everyone worked so hard, and it just showed in the show.”

The twist of a play within a play and the enthusiastic energy and immersive performances of the actors created a successful production.

“The cast improvising, the connections we created — it was overall a lot of fun,” Morales-Concepcion said. “The connections that you make with everybody, that’s something you keep for the future.”