Behind the Scenes
by Peter Noonan, Performing Arts Team Leader
Here at YIS we are extremely fortunate to have a thriving Performing Arts Program. Although this is evident in our many concerts and plays throughout the year, we don't always reflect on the journey that results in the applause at the end of the show. This year we performed the musical "Little Shop of Horrors" by Alan Menken, famous for producing musicals for Walt Disney including The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin. In order for this particular performance to succeed, it truly required both the drama and music department's full attention and cooperation and countless hours of preparation by students, parents and teachers.
One interesting but tricky aspect of this play was the design and operation of one of the co-stars, the carnivorous plant itself. The prop, a plant that is meant to be "growing" throughout the play, was a puppet designed in several iterations and sizes by drama teacher, Kimberly Pichardo, and the drama students. With the sewing and building skills of high school teachers Paul Harding and Liz and David Harrison, audiences saw the creature constantly growing throughout the performance. Mrs. Harrison and Mrs. Harding were sewing up to the very last minute before the lights were turned down to start the show. High school student, Pia, with her distinctive vocals and some special effects, and student-actor, Shin, sweating it out inside the puppet, brought the plant to life.
The technical and lighting crew and the stage crew, under the direction of Mrs. Pichardo and fellow drama teacher, Sarah MacDonald, designed and executed lively stage changes with artistic lighting that highlighted the action and story on stage.
The vocalists under the direction of Curt Patterson and Ms. MacDonald sang their hearts out in the extremely catchy but challenging songs. Mr. Patterson worked with the male singers and Mrs. MacDonald worked with the female singers together with music director, high school student, Jinho, every Tuesday and Thursday for weeks, arranging vocal harmonies and stage cues. Jinho was not just music director but also the main pianist throughout the entire performance. The talented musicians in the band helped support the wonderful enthusiastic singing of the high school leads, Miki and Nicolas, as well as the large and talented supporting cast. The students and Mrs. Pichardo worked endlessly to create believable and comical characters. The dance and staging helped convey the motion and energy of the plot and relationships.
A profound connection is created when so many people come together to tell a story for our community. The spectacle is finished in just three shows but the experience of producing a story as a school stays with the performers and directors for much longer. At the end of the opening night, after the last note was played, the entire cast and crew erupted in shouts and cheers that could only be described as electric. That shared emotion in a fleeting moment in time is one of the main reasons we do all of this. The smiles that you see at the end of the show are not just a result of your applause. They are a result of the close relationships we have formed through persistence, growth and grit during the entire production. And for giving us the opportunity to perform and share this connection, we thank you for all of your support and look forward to the next show.