By CHIRAG GURUKIRAN junior
Every year, students and families fill the school auditorium to experience the magic of the JP Stevens’ theatre productions. This year marks the 50th year since the inception of the theatre, and to celebrate the momentous occasion, the theatre company performed a collection of highlights from previous productions. Each scene revived the moments of joy, anguish, and drama since its debut in 1964. The cast, directed and choreographed by JP Stevens students, staff, and alumni, led the audience through tales of hardship and conflict as well as those of murderous mayhem. The performance included climactic moments from previously performed classics such as The Crucible, Macbeth, and Dracula.
The show began with an enthusiastic rendition of “Brand New Day,” a song from the musical The Wiz, and was followed by an introduction of the JP Theatre, courtesy of director Ms. Rich. The program then launched into tales of family love, lust, and wealth in the section titled “American Dreams and Values,” followed by a series of scenes devoted to ethical conflict under the heading “Trials and Tribulations.” Shortly afterwards came the scenes from Shakespearean classics, including the ever-so-popular duel from Romeo and Juliet. After the subsequent intermission, chaos ran rampant as scenes from stories such as Jekyll and Hyde and Dracula were enacted under the heading “Murder and Mayhem”. The last section, titled “Love and Loss”, dealt with romance and heartbreak, and was followed by the grand finale: the song “42nd Street,” a broadway classic as well as a tribute to the spiritual home of the theatrical arts in the U.S., led by Ms. Rich herself.
The hours of effort and practice were evident in the flawless delivery of each character’s role. Every expression made and each word uttered made a tremendous impact, whether the audience’s reaction took the form of roaring laughter or gaping astonishment. The dances were choreographed perfectly, each fully utilizing the stage and the aisles as a medium to involve and immerse the audience. The music was particularly enthralling – the lyrical power that the soloists demonstrated was a testament to the enthusiasm and passion that the performers exuded. Junior Shravan Hariharan expressed, “The acting and the singing reminded me why I go every year. The scenes and traditions were flawless, and I loved how alumni and faculty were incorporated into the play. I definitely spent my Thursday night right.”
While the performers were captivating in their fervor and talent, the art crew and technical team were essential to the facilitation of a smooth and immersive performance. The colossal background, courtesy of the art crew, was a painted image of 42nd street, New York, the home of some of the country’s most renowned theatres. As junior art crew member Maria Galochkin stated, the team managed to “paint the posters, hanging billboards, set pieces, stage extension, and the entire back wall in a matter of roughly two months through constructions, rehearsals, tech week, after school, on the weekends, during breaks, and worst of all: through tech week blackouts.” The tech crew’s lighting effects contributed to a dynamic environment that reflected the tone of the dialogue and plot, shifting from cool blue overtones during particularly melancholy scenes to inflamed reds and oranges during outbursts of rage.
The performance was a decisive success – the integration of the artwork, technology, acting, vocals, and choreography was flawless, and the opportunity to work with the JP Alumni made the performance one of a kind. Senior performer Matthew Freeman felt that the opportunity to work with JP Alumni who were veterans in the field of the performing arts was a chance of a lifetime, as it was “cool to talk to them about their experiences as past performers in the JP Theatre. We were able to learn so much from them.” The collective effort put forth resulted in a show that stood out as a monument to the hard work and dedication that the JP Theatre Company has exhibited for the past 50 years.