William Penn students to perform ‘Middletown’ musical Nov. 10 and 11
BY WESTON JACKSON, DIRECTOR
The William Penn Senior High School Fine Arts Academy fall play, ‘Middletown,’ is a reminder that each of us has a story, a life. Set in a small town called Middletown — and also outer space — it shows us everyday people.
The characters in the town are always in the middle of something – fixing a sink or a spaceship, planting a tree, sleeping out on the street, having a baby, or a drink. The play is about life, all of life, from birth to death and everything in between.
Our process to put up this show has been very fast-paced. After auditions, our first rehearsal was a read-through, where each character read their part from the script.
Then, we spent a few days as a cast playing games and getting to know each other. Near the end of September, the actors began to learn their blocking — where the actors will stand and move on stage.
After rehearsing that for about 10 rehearsals, the actors really began to find their characters and their stories – trying to bring the lines to life.
About two weeks away from the opening of the play is our off-book date. That is the day that actors can no longer rehearse their lines with their script. They need to be memorized! For a few days after that, characters can call for a line. But, soon, even that stops.
Around that time, the stage crew joined our process, helping to move the set and props around. Our show would not exist without them. They begin the job before the actors do, getting ready for the top of a show. And they stay later – cleaning up and putting things away.
Throughout this process, Mr. Ryan has led a group of fantastic students in creating our beautiful set. I believe our set really does create our ‘Middletown.’ It is as beautiful, yet humble, as the citizens that play on it.
We also had a fantastic costumer, Ms. Ballasy, go out and buy, make, and alter clothing for the actors. To make sure everything fit, each actor was measured. Based on the personality and job of the character, and the time or place they are in, different clothing was chosen.
This play is not like most plays in that many of the props are everyday objects, like pens, paper, books and phones. However, Ms. Raven, our props master, had to find medical equipment, which is not easy to come by. She had to make many calls and emails to get things done, but she was able to locate so many items we needed.
‘Middletown’ is a celebration of life, the UN-extraordinary, the everyday, good, bad, both, and neither. It is a reminder that we need to stop and smell the roses — but also that those roses have thorns (or do thorns have roses?).
Either way, you get both, whether you asked for it or not. It is a reminder that we all have a backstory and baggage, that the people you see every day are people, individuals, just like you and me!
We hope you come out to see the play – not just because it will be entertaining but also to support the students at William Penn.
They have worked so hard to bring these difficult characters to life.
Our performances are scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 10 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 11 at 2 p.m. in the William Penn Senior High School auditorium. Admission is free!