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Behind the scenes at this year’s Fall Drama

A group of students sit in a semi-circle in the choir room: they share memories from past productions and laugh at inside jokes.  Producer Debbie Goodkin steps forward and says, “I was never too good at making speeches,” to which sophomore Matt Zupancic replies, “Yeah, you were never too good at speech and drama.”  In unison, the actors say “Oohhh!” and burst out in laughter.

This  backstage camerarderie is accurately captured by The Sting, this year’s fall drama, which ran on November 13, 14, and 15.  While the many different scenes and characters were difficult to organize, the complexity of the plot combined with some impeccable acting distinguished it from plays of years past.

Senior Alora Eisen plays Mrs. Vanderkieft and narrates a story of her youth to potential novelist Cynthia Hastings, played by senior Kiera Beatty.  The story follows Johnny Hooker, played by junior Joey Gonnella.  He and his comrades are grifters, or cons, who routinely cause trouble.  Despite this, their sense of family and community is strong, and when a friend, Luther, played by freshman Ben Sasportas, is taken out by Doyle Lonnegan, played by senior Jonathan Gelb, a quest to fix the situation immediately becomes of utmost importance.  With the help of a professional con man, Henry Gondroff, played by senior Patrick Varnavas, Lonnegan is conned himself, and then eventually taken by the authorities.

Though the plot seems complex, the play is performed effortlessly by its skilled actors.  The play boasts a whopping 40-plus scripted parts, and at North, there have been few other dramas to this scale.  The cast had to adapt to the limitation of props, microphones, and space during the con scenes.  “The Boost needs to be perfectly timed because it’s a very crucial part to the story,” Eisen said, referring to one particularly complex scene.  “It definitely took a long time, but it looks fantastic now.”

Rehearsals for the show began in September, leaving a tight seven weeks of production and rehearsals for only a few hours after school on weekdays.  “We spent a month or so cleaning up the set from last year’s musical, which was huge, so we were set back a little by the time we began the set,” said senior Alan Gan, a member of Stage Crew.

Coordinating among the actors, the musicians, stage crew, and the sound/light technicians was difficult, but the complex, multilayered play came together in the end.  “Though I have a few favorite scenes specific to this production, my favorite part of every show is hearing the theater get progressively louder as more and more people file in,” Gonnella said over Facebook.  “Reminiscent of an orchestral tuning, it acquaints me with the fact that, though we have ran through the performance before, we are adding a new character into the mix…the night’s audience.”

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