Orientation Provides First Glimpse of PA Theater

A week after new student orientation began, members of the Andover Theater and Dance Department gave a short sample of the different offerings of the Department. The event, which recurred throughout Saturday morning, offered a rollicking good time for all who attended. Starting the morning off with some wild times and audience involvement was Andover’s “first and only” improvisational comedy troupe, Under the Bed, and its five returning members, Scout Kingery ’04, Kendra Allenby ’05, Ben Bloom ’04, Caroline Claflin ’05, and Nick Pappadopoulos ’04, who is this year’s head of the troupe. Playing a variety of sketch games, they quickly got the audience involved, and hilarity ensued. Pappadopoulos also felt that “the games we were using worked rather well because they got new students’ classmates involved. They could laugh at someone they knew that was up on stage.” Following that act came a dance performance from three of the school’s leading dancers. Demonstrating the versatility of the Dance Department, Margaret Griset ’04, Margaret Pyle ’04, and Tess Borden ’04 performed a series of well-executed dance solos. The trio was energetic and fun to watch and performed seemingly unconventional dance numbers, a bold move for an audience that may not appreciate dance, yet one that definitely showed the Department’s strengths. On the tails of the wonderfully choreographed solo ventures came two more beautifully crafted solo acts. JeanMarie Gossard ’05, a veteran of the Department since her freshman year, and Jason Saunders ’05, a very promising new Upper who is starring in the Theater 520 production of The Bells of Amesfoort, directed by Mark Efinger ’74, performed two monologues from two very different genres. Although JeanMarie’s monologue evoked a comic reaction from the audience, her timing and mannerisms really added special charm. On the other hand, Saunders’s monologue almost sent the audience to tears through his powerful words, delivery, and movements despite no blocking. Lifting the spirits of the audience members after the moving monologue by Sanders came a musical number sung by Ariel Gold ’04. Playing the part of the seductress in a slinky red dress and with a curious smile on her face, Gold utilized her fine alto voice to perform “Whatever Lola Wants” from the musical Damn Yankees, complete with sensual serpentine movement and a male audience member stolen from the crowd. Accompanied by Erika Chow ’06 on the piano, the musical portion of the performance was right on target along with an enjoyable display of theatrical movement. Between all the performances, the student leaders of the Theater and Dance Department made some presentations. The three student producers of the Theater Department introduced themselves to make themselves immediately accessible to incoming students. Ali Schouten ’04, Jenny Byer ’04 and Lydia Wallace ’04 will be the liaison between students and faculty in theater for this academic year. The producers then proceeded to introduce the dance committee, which consists of Margaret Griset ’04, Katie Ting ’04, and Rachel Okun ’04, and the three student directors of the larger shows occurring this term, Katie Nadworny ’05 (The Bad Seed),Meg Dallett ’04 (Accidental Death of an Anarchist), and Taylor Allbright ’04 (Goodnight Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet). After all the preceding material came the final theater performance, which featured two of Andover’s finest Senior actresses, Susannah Nitz Gund ’04 and Schouten, as well as a fine directorial debut by Byer. The scene took place place on top of a precariously high building. Gund did a fine job pretending to be willing to jump along with Schouten. With a surprising yet enjoyable ending, it was a suitable close for a particularly intriguing scene. In terms of increasing involvement, President of Under the Bed Nicholas Pappadopoulos remarked, “I was surprised at the large number of Juniors who auditioned for the troupe, and I think I can attribute a large amount of that to orientation.” Although not completely successful in attracting people to auditions for the larger productions, which required casts of great size, the weekend’s program was very welcomed by those looking to fill slots in plays or groups. For a change of pace in the orientation setup, the delayed theater orientation seemed to contain much more group excitement from the new students and better preparation by the returning students.