School Notes: School Theater Groups Take Stage

  • Hanover High School students TOJ Marceau, left, Hayden Christensen, Claire Austin-Washburn, and Sydney Read rehearse a scene for "A Midsummer Night's Dream" on Oct. 26, 2018 in Hanover, N.H. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hanover High School actors warm up on the set of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" before a dress rehearsal on Oct. 26, 2018 in Hanover, N.H. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hanover High School students Ellie Roberts takes a look at how Johan Berendsen can fit his glasses over his mask before a dress rehearsal of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at the school on Oct. 26, 2018 in Hanover, N.H. Roberts is the stage manger for the production, Berendsen plays Bottom. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Backstage props are kept in place on Oct. 26, 2018 in Hanover, N.H., for the school's production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Pick a stage, any stage.

The busiest season for high school theater productions hits full stride this weekend, with performances scheduled at Hanover and Oxbow High Schools and at the Lebanon Opera House.

The themes range from the timeless to the timely to the, well, seasonal.

Hanover High’s Footlighters are tackling Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, while Oxbow High School will present a comic musical that was written in response to the U.S. Olympic Committee’s attempt to wrest away the nickname for the school’s sports teams. And the Trumbull Hall Troupe is revisiting Love at First Bite, the teen monster-mash/romantic comedy that troupe co-founder Jodi Picoult wrote for the Valley-wide youth acting company in 2000 with son Jake van Leer and Ellen Wilber.

During Hanover’s Shakespeare production — scheduled for this Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at the high-school auditorium — several of the Footlighters are playing more than one character.

Among them is senior Crigit van Generen who plays the principal fairy queens — Titania and Hippolyta.

“I didn’t know that was going to happen until we started rehearsals,” van Generen said last week. “But when I did, I was really excited.”

Any time that playing those two roles — monarchs dealing with serious #MeToo moments in immortality — seems challenging, van Generen remembers playing the title character in the Greek tragedy Antigone, a spring 2017 production.

“I loved that role, which has a lot of complexity and lines, but it was way sadder than Midsummer Night’s Dream,” van Generen recalled. “She was in love, but she didn’t like the way she looked. The hardest part, before she’s dragged off to prison, is where she kills herself. Everything after that has felt like a comedy.”

Oxbow High School is calling its fall production, Olympian Love, a “jukebox comedy,” and it plays off the U.S. Olympic Committee’s efforts to strip the school of the nickname its athletes have carried into sports battle since the school was formed in the early 1970s.

Ted Pogacar, a veteran English teacher and the director of the drama program, wrote the script, which also incorporates the modern struggle of schools to navigate cell-phone use by students.

Performances are scheduled for Thursday and Friday nights at 7 and for Sunday afternoon at 2, with an admission fee of $5 for adults.

In the opening of Scene 3, Principal Principle is rubber-stamping paperwork when he turns to his secretary, Sunny Day, and asks, “Has the Olympic Committee called again?”

“It’s been six months now, Mr. Principle,” Ms. Day replies. “You should stop worrying. Focus on something fun, like, … curriculum.”

“We are yet again disappointed in the USOC for not extending their lawuit until after the play was finished,” Pogacar said last week, “so we could take credit for their change of heart,”

While Oxbow’s musical includes a cast of 17 students, the Trumbull Hall Troupe is counting on 31 on-stage performers from Lebanon and Hanover and from the Mascoma Valley, plus six technicians from a variety of schools to carry off Love at First Bite at the Lebanon Opera House on Friday and Saturday nights at 7 and on Sunday afternoon at 3.

Admission is by donation to the charities that Trumbull Hall supports, including the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth, a foundation that helps schoolchildren in Zimbabwe and the homeless programs of the Upper Valley Haven.

“It’s colorful, and full of themes that kids can relate to,” troupe director Jean Alexander said last week. “They’re family-friendly monsters. They’re sort of Toy Story-like, as far as having lines that the parents get that the kids might not.”

During the second weekend of November, Hartford High gets into the act with a production of the reliable Broadway musical Once Upon a Mattress. Five total performances are scheduled for Nov. 8 through 10, at ticket prices of $7 to $10. And on the same dates, the Rivendell Academy Players revive the whimsical comedy Harvey — about a man and his invisible 6-foot-tall rabbit companion — in the academy gymnasium. Admission is $5 for students, $12 for adults and free for veterans of the military.

Between Nov. 29 and Dec. 2 at the Lebanon Opera House, Lebanon High drama coach Jonathan Verge will direct the Wet Paint Players through four performances of She Loves Me, the 1963 Broadway adaptation of Hungarian playwright Miklos Laszlow’s Depression-era play Parfumerie. Admission is $5 for the general public and free to Lebanon School District students and staff.

And between Dec. 14 and 16 at Woodstock Union High School, the Yoh Theatre players perform the live radio-play musical version of Miracle on 34th Street, about a department-store Santa Claus who runs into legal trouble while claiming to be the real Kris Kringle.

Stage Presence

Haverhill native Chris Sarkis will sing and perform during the world premiere of the opera Mayo between Nov. 8 and 11, at the State University of New York-Potsdam’s Crane School of Music.

Sarkis has been cast as a eugenecist and in the chorus, and is the understudy for the title character, a man who was committed to the Iowa Home for Feeble-Minded Children at the age of eight and persevered there during the last 60 years of his life.

Screen Time-Out

Windsor-area schools in mid-November will screen two movies on the subject of cyberbullying and other forms of harassment that kids, especially adolescents, may face.

On Nov. 12 at 5 p.m., in the auditorium at the Windsor Schools building, Hartland Elementary invites parents of school-age children in the school district to see Screenagers, the 2016 documentary about parents struggling to help their kids strike a balance between their non-digital lives and the enticements and pitfalls of social media, video games and addiction to the internet. A panel discussion will follow on the subjects of bullying, cyberbullying and other forms of harassment that kids face from classmates. Students in grades 6 and up also are welcome to the gathering, which Hartland Elementary is hosting in concert with the Windsor County Special Victims Unit, the Vermont State Police and the Vermont Department of Children and Families.

And on Nov. 13 from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Windsor auditorium, the school district will host a screening, for middle school-age children, of A Girl Like You, a fictional 2015 feature film about a high school girl who enlists the help of her best friend to document the relentless harassment she’s received from a former friend who is now one of their school’s most popular students. After the movie, the panel of experts from the Nov. 12 movie will lead another discussion.

Admission to the Nov. 12 screening is free and open to the public.

To learn more about the movie, visit screenagersmovie.com or type Screenagers into the search engine at imdb.com.

Collegiate Recognition

■Colby-Sawyer College’s Class of 2020 recently elected Enfield resident Benjamin Jones as secretary of its governing board. Jones is a junior majoring in nursing.

■New London resident Katherine Dailey was named to the honors list at Fairleigh Dickinson University, for maintaining a grade-point average of at least 3.5 out of a possible 4.0 during the spring 2018 semester at the school’s Florham Campus in Madison, N.J.

Personnel Matters

The Windsor Central Supervisory Union is looking for substitute teachers to cover elementary-grade classes in Woodstock and surrounding communities.

Subs are needed at Barnard Academy, Killington Elementary, Reading Elementary, the Prosper Valley in South Pomfret and Woodstock. The school district is accepting in-person applications at the supervisory-union office at 70 Amsden Way in Woodstock on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Applicants must bring identification and undergo a criminal-record check that includes fingerprinting. Candidates must be at least 18 years old and hold at least a high school diploma or a general equivalency degree.

Thetford Academy, meanwhile, is looking for substitutes to work with students in grades 7 to 12.

To apply, Head of School William Bugg asks candidates to send letters of interest, resumes and contact information for three references to office manager Gloria Thurston Konicki at jobs@thet.net

David Corriveau can be reached at dcorriveau@vnews.com and at 603-727-3304. Education-related news and announcements also can be sent to schoolnotes@vnews.com.