By Josh Kirk
For many of us theater fans at Arundel, the Fall One Act Play Festival is one of the highlights of the fall season for Arundel’s theater department. The theater students’ theme for the show this year was A Night of Comedy, and sure enough, they came through.
They performed two short productions, “Check, Please,” directed by senior Emma Stubbs and written by Jonathan Rand, and “Switched at the Crossroads,” directed by junior Drake Mayer and written by John Healy.
“I liked being in control of a situation and have my own vision come to life,” said Stubbs, when asked about her favorite part of directing.
On the other hand, Drake Mayer stated he’s a total control freak and that directing is something of a “power-trip” but directing also allows him to enact his own acting style.
“Check, Please” depicts a guy, portrayed by Alexander Hamilton, and a girl, portrayed by Amanda Troncale. They both encounter countless blind dates at a fancy restaurant, including a loyal Bears hater named Melanie (Alex Mihalyi), a spiffed-up guy named Ken (Nicholas McQuain), a raging kleptomaniac named Manny (Sean Owens), who is afraid of everything, and a highly entertaining mime named Mimi (Clare Dombrosky). The director praises the crowd’s response of hysterical laughter, as Mimi takes the stage. Of course, since this is a true comedy, all of these blind dates end up a disaster in the end. Other hilarious roles include Pearl (Alanna Washington), Mark (Indi Hajeski), and Brandon (Ethan Limansky).
One of the show’s funniest scenes is when Pearl, Washington’s character, takes away the utensils, menus, and tablecloth from the table right in front of the guy. Another is when Brandon, Limansky’s character gets into an awkward discussion with the girl. She is so fed up with it that she splashes water in Brandon’s face to, yep, a room full of laughter.
Even Stubbs claims this to be one of her favorite scenes. When she reflected on the experience of directing for the first time, she said that she learned to have more confidence in herself and do what she wanted without freaking out too much.
She also commented on how important the support of her family is to her. “My mother is the strongest person I’ve ever met in my life,” she says, “She has helped me through all the times where I had a mental breakdown, which is often.”
The second play, “Switched at the Crossroads,” tells a well-known story with a special new twist. Its characters include Lizzie Green (Madison Jurek), the wicked Amelia Plumbworthy (senior Elizabeth Moore), Nell Doobee (Dayton Childs), a young girl named Cymbeline Gruber (Isabela Packer), the couple of Mercy Doobee (Shea Gardner) and Sebastian Spitzmiller (Tibet Birik), two farmers, Richard Bonafide (Spencer Keys) and Josh Doobee (Thomas Greenslit), and a no-nonsense sheriff named Mike Slade (Colin Delpo).
In this performance, a wicked villain, a staunch hero, a virtuous heroine, a hardworking farmer and his wife, a rustic comic maid, and a local sheriff, all participate in a story that is more serious and dramatic yet no less entertaining and hilarious. These characters are seen inside a single house, containing a fancy couch, an old-fashioned clock, and even a fireplace. Delpo’s mother is an interior designer, so his family was responsible for lending the couch for the set of Crossroads.
One of its most memorable moments is when Gardner’s character, Mercy Doobee, says that she sees creepy little figures in the fireplace, revealing her inner night terrors.
Meanwhile, Amelia Plumbworthy delivers an impressive British accent and plenty of clever dialogue, including one of director Drake Mayer’s favorite quotes, “No gloves?”
To add to the hilarity, Mayer holds up signs on stage, telling the audience to cheer, applaud, gasp, or boo. Since this story is a traditional melodrama, the director knew that he had to encourage audience participation.
“That was a last-minute trick that you don’t usually see happen in shows,” Mayer says, “I knew that it wouldn’t be a melodrama without it.”
The cast, crew, writers, and directors obviously put a lot of effort into this program. However, they were not alone. Mayer’s mother, Deanna Mayer, helped with designing publicity posters, program covers, and digital media promotions for this production, like she does for all of Arundel’s theater shows, while his father, Devin Mayer, helped construct some of the set pieces, as did Troncale’s father, Scott Troncale.
“Without them, the theater company would be missing a ginormous chunk of what it is,” exclaims Mayer. “They pretty much do everything for the set, except painting it.”
Mayer has been part of the theater company for all his years at Arundel High School. Some of his past roles have included the factory foreman in Les Miserables, Dennis in All Shook Up and Patrick in 368 Friends. As for Stubbs, she just joined the program her senior year, though she wishes that she had joined earlier.
“One thing I’ve learned from being in theater the last three years is that the show must go on,” declared Mayer, “there can’t be any gaps in the entire production.” However, they are also very appreciative of feeling accepted by their peers.
“They were just so accepting of me because I was their director, but I was more their friend than anything else,” added Stubbs.
The Fall One Acts were a very special treat to see at the end of this marking period. We are hopeful that Arundel’s theater department will continue to exceed expectations in the near future, even if Mayer predicts scenarios where the cast and crew may “crash and burn.” In his own words, “the show must go on!”