(Left) From the light and sound booth, Spamalot's student technical team communicates with director Ms. Lisa Bodden during a rehearsal. (Right) Spamalot's cast includes students in grades 5 - 12.
Shining in different lights
When The Gregory School says “all-school musical,” we mean it. This year’s musical, Spamalot, includes students in all grades acting, singing, dancing, performing in the orchestra, building sets, creating digital animation, and designing lights, costumes, and sound effects.
“Having students from fifth to twelfth grades sharing the stage has challenges, but it also creates unexpected friendships and offers students an additional experience,” Ms. Lisa Bodden, drama teacher and Spamalot director said. “The younger students can see role models in the older ones. The older students often get nostalgic when working with the Middle School students, seeing their younger selves. Upper Schoolers also suddenly realize that there are a lot of younger people who have talent and are fearless, so it can be eye-opening for them, as well.”
Student musicians playing in the show’s orchestra gain the invaluable experience of working not only with each other, but alongside professional musicians. “The music is written at a professional level,” Dr. Chris Fresolone, music teacher and Spamalot musical director said. “It presents a new challenge for our student musicians. Once the show starts you have to be 100% zeroed in to time the music to what is happening on stage. There are changing keys, tempos, and styles. Sometimes you have to repeat music until a certain point in the action on stage–called a ‘vamp.’ It can be really overwhelming.”
Under the guidance of Ms. Bodden and theater production and stagecraft teacher Mr. Tiffer Hill, students have also taken the lead in researching, designing and creating costumes, building sets, designing lights, and poring over the script to determine props, scene transitions, and more. Simultaneously, Mr. Stephen Krohn’s digital arts students created projections to be displayed on stage.
The diversity of student interests and talents may come as a surprise, even to the students’ own family members. “There are times when both faculty and parents see students involved with the musical doing things so out of any comfort zone that they thought the students were in that it puts a huge smile on their faces,” Ms. Bodden said. “Students they thought were shy or quiet or only into math are suddenly shining in an entirely different light.” This is true not only for the actors, but for the students who are an instant match for leadership in lighting design, for example, or take immediately to costume research and creation.
“The experience is unlike anything else because you are a cog in a bigger machine,” Dr. Fresolone said.
Spamalot will be performed January 26, 27, and 28. Tickets are available through The Gregory School online store or at the door.