by Mickey Smith
With apologies to Gelbart and Shevelove, you could say, a funny thing happened on the way home from the Vermont State Drama Festival for the Lamoille Union Drama Club... they learned their season wasn’t over yet.
Many of the students who took part in AP Theatre, the schools entry in the annual one-act play festival competition, sat down and discussed their experience this spring and their surprising ride from the regional festival in Milton, to the State Festival at Randolph Union High School and all the way to the New England Festival in Rhode Island.
This year’s show, AP Theatre was a bit different than a lot of the one-acts the students had taken part in the past. They described the show as three plays in one, with different styles being used for each of the different parts.
Harold Bailey played a student who was forced to write three plays for his AP Theatre final exam. As he wrote the plays, the action formed around him through the onstage antics of the other students. Each play involved a different theatre style, including a puppet show.
Because of the different talents needed, the students said after the auditions nobody knew what role they had in the play only if they had made it or not. After some workshops Director Jack VonBehren had a better idea of the strengths and talents of each student and roles were chosen.
After four practices a week, for two and a half months they headed to Milton for one of five regional drama festivals held around the state, a school with whom they have formed a strong bond.
Lamoille Union and Otter Valley were the two schools chosen from Milton’s regional one act festival. Meanwhile, around the State, Lamoille County’s other two schools Peoples Academy and Stowe High School were finding out they were heading to the state festival as well – giving Lamoille County three of the 10 slots at the state festival.
At the state festival, the 10 schools perform and take part in workshops over two days. They also allow for a student led critique of each show after its performance, where students from other schools can give their thoughts about the performance. It is a tradition at the festivals that the director is handed an envelope stating whether the school is moving on or not. The schools wait until they have left to announce the results.
On the ride home from States, VonBehren told the kids how proud he was of all they had accomplished. They said he mentioned “the end of the road” often in the speech, but when he came to the end of his speech, he told them their trip was not over and the were headed to Rhode Island.
For the next two weeks, they had more rehearsals incorporating some of information they had received from the student critique after states.
New Englands were held this year in Woonsocket, RI at the Beacon Charter High School for the Arts on Wednesday, April 17 through Friday, April 19 in their Stadium Theatre Performing Arts Centre. Woonsocket is a tiny town, they said imagine Elmore with an elaborate, huge old theatre in the middle of town. The town was small enough that there weren’t many eating options for several hundred high school students, so Providence, RI’s famous food truck brigade was summoned and brought in to serve the hungry students.
New Englands is designed as a showcase, not a competition. No winners are announced, so the pressure is off and the students can put on their show in a much more relaxed atmosphere. Of course at the same time, they are on a much larger stage than they have been used to and have to remember to slow down the pace and increase their projection. Lamoille was the last performance of the three-day festival, something that was described as capable of being a blessing or a curse. Because of the light-hearted nature of their comedy, the Lancers’ performance appeared a great fit for the finale and they said it was well received.
The students were very excited by the chance to perform at New Englands and gave credit to VonBehren for making the experience possible. They said they have learned a lot from him over the years. They also showed their appreciation for the school administration, noting Principal Brian Schaffer was able to come up with money to fund the trip to Rhode Island for the students as it was their first time making it this far.
On the flip side,VonBehren gives the credit to the students.
“I can’t say enough good things about the students in this play. Each year, there are more kids who participate in Lamoille’s One Act Play and Fall Musical, and each year they surprise us with their maturity and talent.”
“There’s a lot more work involved than many people realize if a play is to be of the caliber of this one, to be nominated by the Vermont drama community to represent our state at the New England Drama Festival. They know how to have a lot of fun when it’s time for that, and they know when it’s time to get serious and get some work done,” he added.
VonBehren also wanted to make sure credit goes to those behind the scenes that helped out, including Robin Gouin for costumes, Alexa Reber for set artwork, and to Lori Lisai for help and good advice.
Student- Harold Bailey
Teacher/Voice- Arthur Schwab
Narrator- Fred Bailey
Shamisen Player- Keegan Farara
Mom Voice- Morgan Manning
Bryce Voice- Michael Daley
Ashley Voice- Sadie Lourie
Dakota Voice- Danielle Dennis
Mom Puppet - Natalie Reed
Bryce Puppet - Alec Sansone
Ashley Puppet- Kaitlyn Jewett
Dakota Puppet- Emily Lourie
Puppeters- Hannah Larro, Acadia LaGue, Gilliane Sheppard, Katy Jones.
Chet- Quinn MsKusick
Marco- Noel Kramer
Skylar- Lily Penberthy
Amber- Amelia Machia
Mother- Melissa Chase
Father- Brad Jewett
Chorus- Natalie Reed, Kaitlyn Jewett, Michael Daley, Emily Lourie, Katy Jones, Hannah Larro, Gilliane Sheppard
Nick- Keegan Farara
Admissions Officer- Alec Sansone
Mrs. Grabowski- Danielle Dennis
Mom- Acadia LaGue
Dad- Fred Bailey
Girlfriend- Sadie Lourie
Cassandra- Hannah Larro
Crystal- Morgan Manning
Stage Manager- Madison Hallett
Lighting- Thomas Edgerton
Sound- Julia Stanton
Director- Jack VonBehren