Trouble Comin’ as Tumbleweed Comes to Haldane

 Middle School play rolls in on Friday  

by Lucy Austin  

Next stop for the Haldane stage — Tumbleweed.  Set in a Western town, the Middle School is performing Trouble In Tumbleweed this very Friday (June 2.) This show is about a town called Tumbleweed that uncovers a 2-month-old letter. The letter states that an undercover agent will be coming to see how things are progressing. This is a fiasco because the town is highly undeveloped. It’s turning out to be double trouble, since there are two different casts!

Last Thursday night, the “red cast” was practicing the show. Some students are making their debut in Haldane theater this year. The returning students were asked how this year’s show compares to last year’s production — The Canterbury Tales. Seventh-grader Allisen Casey who emerges as clumsy dumbbell sister “Otille,” says that there are more rules than last year; “Mrs. Mech [aka Martha Mechalakos] is definitely stricter.” Clara Thompson, also in seventh grade, appears as “Gert” — a crusty, masculine stagecoach driver — and says that this year contrasts from last because it has a set plot; last year it was a collective of various stories. Everyone agrees that the rehearsals are very lively and pleasant. They savor the off time when they can mingle with their friends and laze (or fool around backstage as Theo Henderson puts it) until Mrs. Mech says “everybody onstage!” They are long, interesting, and fun.           

Waiting for their scenes to be rehearsed

What do the actors cherish about the performance? The “plain thrill,” says seventh grader Leandra Rice. For Clara it is “getting laughs from the audience and feeling wonderful about yourself.” For Tess Foster it is getting to watch Luther kissing Julie, even though she plays Miranda, mother of Julie and hater of Luther. For Theo, it’s getting to wear the ridiculous costumes and hide under a blanket with his friend Nolan Shea. Theo takes the role of the undertaker, Gilroy Cavender, while Nolan portrays the part of the chicken-hoarding Sheriff.
            But really, what’s the best part of performing in a show? Getting to breathe as someone else, inhabit another person’s body and soul. What do our cast of characters like best about their roles? Clara says that she likes her character, Gert, because she is “rude like me. She’s not afraid to say what she feels.” Leandra says that her character, Mrs. Crabtree is “dumb but not dumb, and she has a lot of funny jokes.” Sixth-grader Jocelyn Lane, who plays Julie Oates, says that her character is “sweet and innocent. It’s nice, being able to act perfect.” Also, in sixth grade, Sarah Andersen, who plays Marigold Dobbs says that she likes “giggling and acting clumsy.” Tess says that “I like singing poorly.” But, some, like Theo, just want to get to the next question.
            Overall, the cast likes the last scene the most — and who can wonder why? This is the scene of romance, where our hero and heroine become one.  Although these students all play different characters, all say different lines, and all have different attitudes, they all can’t wait to see Luther and Julie kiss. And will a surprise be revealed also? Who knows?
            What is the finest part of the entire experience? Clara says it’s just being there. Jocelyn and Sarah agree that it is being able to be with their friends. Theo says it is the actual performance that he appreciates the most. Tess, though, says that she can’t think of one thing in particular — she adores it all.
            We all know that the actors aren’t the only ones working hard. For example, Grace Seward, Tumbleweed’s stage manager is. She has to handle all the props, and make sure everyone is where they are supposed to be. She makes sure that “the show goes on!” She was asked by Mrs. Sniffen, the Middle School Assistant Principal the day before the rehearsal, and she had just started. She’s never been a stage manager before, and she’s ecstatic that she gets to be involved with the production. She couldn’t be an actor in the show, so she is glad that she can be part of it.           

Director Mechalakos (aka Mrs. Mech) works with 2 cast members

Here is the most confusing question — if someone was undercover here at Haldane, who would it be? Allisen Casey said (with a grin,) Evan Poholchuk, who plays Mayor Oates. Clara Thompson decided on Andrew Platt, who plays love-struck Luther, while Marissa DiPalo sitting next to her chose Blaine Fitzgerald who is Nolan’s double as the Sheriff. Leandra says Cory Zouzias, who plays Mayor Oates alongside Evan, is the one incognito, while Allison Marino, who play Electra, disagreed and chose Nolan. Other people under suspicion are Timothy McGovern, who plays Lawyer Maxwell, Hope Perkins, who plays Victoria Dobbs, Matt Koval, who plays Luther, Jeremy Roffman who plays Doc Snipes, and Jenna van der Merwe who was accused by her very own partner in crime, Theo, who shares her part as Gilroy Cavender.            The auditions for the show were so popular. Everyone wants to be in the plays now! There are over 40 cast members — Jack Lovell, Timothy McGovern, Caroline Casparian, Tess Foster, Gavin Koepke, Clara Thompson, Elena LaBreche, Allison Marino, Emma Garschagen, Mackenzie Fariel, Eric Rizzi, Gianna Galazzo, Jocelyn Lane, Grace Carroll, Evan Poholchuk, Corydon Zouzias, Nolan Shea, Blaine Fitzgerald, Mary—Margaret Dwyer, Mckenzie Flagler, Jeremy Roffman, Theo Henderson, Jenna van der Merwe, Dante Nastasi, Cameron Henderson, Hope Perkins, Leandra Rice, Bennie Geithner, Cassie Traina, Catherine Parr, Matt Koval, Andrew Platt, Allisen Casey, Becky Gore, Weronika Bajsicka, Morrigan Brady, Anna Birn, Sarah Andersen, Rebecca Yodice, Kaitlin Phillips, Marissa DiPalo, Lian Petri, Hali Traina, and Kyra Cimino.
       Adult credits are: Martha Mechalakos: director; Maeve Davis and Catherine Platt: production coordinators; Frank Caccetta: technical director; Joel Goss: theatrical consultant; Barbara Gallazzo: props; Mary Rice: set painting; Lynn Hawley: line coaching; and Seamus Carroll production advisor
       Performance times are 12:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Friday, June 3.   Tickets, which cost $10 general admission and $5 for students and seniors, are available at the door.
Lucy Austin is in the seventh grade at Haldane.
Photos by L. Austin 


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