Standing outside of the drama room, Hazel Griffin and Devon Sheehan discuss their respective productions. It’s the thursday before the shows, and both Griffin and Sheehan are nervous.
They shouldn’t have been.
This year, the drama II class put on two one-act plays: A Far Cry, written and produced by Hazel Griffin, and Drama, written and produced by Devon Sheehan. The entire class works together to act, direct, produce, and publicize their shows, with each student taking on multiple roles. And if you take Sheehan’s word for it, four days before the play, the class “is barely ready.”
But if you listen to the audience’s’ laughter at every joke and gasp of shock at every plot twist, you might have a different opinion on the Woodside drama program’s end-of-year performances.
A Far Cry
While both productions went through their fair share of bad luck (the two shows were barely able to rehearse onstage pre-performance), A Far Cry seemed to be especially afflicted. Lead actor Carl Tuttle, who played Eddie, lost his voice just before the show, forcing Griffin to read his lines offstage as he mimed them.
But nonetheless, the show went on, and went on surprisingly well. The plot centers around five friends and their new neighbors, Ginger and Isabel, played by Cella Hussussian and Lourdes Smith.
The five local friends are not specifically introduced, which might cause some confusion for audience members trying to keep them straight. But the show moves along at a steady pace, and it isn’t difficult to get a feel for the well-acted personalities of the different characters.
Devon Sheehan, who produced Drama, shines as an actor in A Far Cry. Her portrayal of Sonny, a teenager trying to escape the small town from which she lives is all too realistic. Her performance is aided by a solid supporting cast: brother-sister duo Alyssa Parodi and Devin Dormanan is intriguing.
The show gallops through the plot, with a new twist at every turn. While the suspense of Sonny (Sheehan) and Ginger’s (Hussussian) disappearance keeps the audience on their toes, the climax might seem rather lukewarm to some. It turns out the girls were simply developing photos in the woods, which seems to be a newfound passion.
It wraps up cleverly, playing on the the name and suggesting new bonds between the characters. As the friends head to breakfast, joking with one another, viewers are left with a satisfying conclusion and an interesting, if at times confusing, plot.
In contrast to A Far Cry, Drama is inherently simplistic in nature. Relying on only one antagonistic plot, the rest of the show revolves around character relations, and is set in only one time and place.
The ‘show-within-a-show’ idea works for the production: the play is about a group of actors -and their director and producer- readying themselves for their high school production of Macbeth. All the actors seem casted to perfection, comfortable in themselves and enjoying their roles.
Standout stars include Christian Cannellos as Director Lary, Sam Borthwick as Kat, the producer, and Adam Mead as Stewart, a disgruntled ensemble actor of Macbeth (he plays a tree).
But even beyond these actors, all of whom have a distinct theater background, the show is genuinely and consistently funny.
A subplot about the lead actress Rose (played by Mia Cadet) and her prima donna roots stemming from a lack of motherly love is touching and multifaceted, making the audience feel for her even as she throws temper tantrum after temper tantrum.
For the most part, the script is also excellent, sounding natural and engaging. A few lines -both in script and delivery- seem stilted, but the rest feel genuine.
The show ends at a high point, after the successful pretend production of Macbeth. But both the pretend production and the real one allow audience and cast to feel relieved and fulfilled.
Both productions had their fair share of talent. However, each show had its own memorable characters- and actors.
‘A Far Cry’
Cella Hussussian, a senior, has been involved in the drama program all four years at Woodside. She played Ginger in ‘A Far Cry’ authentically, bringing realness to the character. In the production, Ginger is the older sister, tasked with taking care of moody younger sister Izzy. Hussussian, the oldest of three, seemed to have no trouble in her role as a protective sibling. Her favorite part about the drama production was “getting to work with new people and actors who I wouldn’t normally be with.”
Devon Sheehan is a woman of many talents. Aside from producing and writing the production ‘Drama,’ Sheehan also starred in ‘A Far Cry’ as Amelia, a young girl dreaming of escaping her hometown and becoming a photographer. Amelia is a multifaceted character, and her choices -and lines- oftentimes seem erratic or out of place. But Sheehan plays it off well, portraying a confused but well meaning teen with a secret. Sheehan isn’t shy about her love for the theater. “My two true passions are acting and directing,” she explains. And as for how she thought the productions went? “I was so excited to be in ‘A Far Cry.’ But I loved to hear the audience react to ‘Drama.’ It meant a lot.”
Sam Borthwick is a staple of the Woodside Drama Program. “It’s hard working with a team...a lot of it was about coordination,” she explains about the play. In the the spring musical, she played Brunhilde Esterhazy, a lead character. And in ‘Drama,’ she’s no different, bringing a magnetism to her character, Kat. Kat is the producer of the production of Macbeth that ‘Drama’ portrays, and Borthwick’s engaging rendition of her enthralled the audience. Her talent as an actress combined with Kat, a character who the audience can easily empathize with, made Borthwick’s performance a great one.
Christian Cannellos’s character, Larry, had the audience laughing almost every line he said. But even he was surprised how well the jokes went off. “The production was about the first time we had the full space, and I think it made the physical comedy go off really well,” he explains. But it wasn’t only the physical comedy: his performance as a Director Larry in ‘Drama’ (which is a satire of the Woodside drama program director, Barry) had well-timed lines delivered with just enough sting. Cannellos gave a captivatingly amusing -and at times, touching- performance and gave the audience a glimpse of acting professionalism.