The Profundity of Plays

Left fo right, Bob Kilpatrick ’17, Evan Moore’20, and Alex Lucan ’21 exchange dialogue in the 2017 school play Tom Sawyer.

 

Adrenaline pumping. The whisper of lines under one’s breath. The anticipation of the velvet curtains rising. The cast prepares themselves for another school play. 

For 30+ years, the school has produced countless theatrical productions. Most remember the plays that Ms. Carrey Reynolds directed over the past sixteen years, but credit for establishing the love of CHS theater goes to Fr. Gaston Herbert for his many musicals done on the gym floor during the 1960s and 1970s. Although the Covid-19 pandemic paused the school’s theatrics for two years, it has not ceased its enthusiasm. 

Several alumni teachers remember that Fr. Herbert produced plays as theater in the round, which is to say their audience members sat on all sides. “It was hard to get a ticket [for Fr. Herbert’s plays],” said Mr. David Massery, a member of these musicals. “There were well over a hundred people in each of the productions. They had people working on the costumes, they had people gathering the props, they had people building the sets. It was a big deal,” he said. And to produce such big shows, Fr. Hebert need really big casts. 

Mr. Massery said, “About an eighth of the school was in the [musicals]. They started in the fall, but the big months were the cold months. Fr. Herbert didn’t waste anyone’s time. He set a schedule and [the cast] stuck to it.“If you got the job as the student manager of the play, you probably could work anywhere in town [after you graduated] because you were a good manager at that point.” 

Not only did the plays require hard work, but also dedication. “It was not one of those things that you tell Fr. Herbert ‘Yeah, I want to do this’ and then quit the next day because you don’t feel like it. You made a commitment there,” Mr. Massery said. 

History is important, but so so is the present. “When I came here,” said Ms. Carrey Renolds, the current director of the school plays, “the plays were being directed by Tommy Coy, who taught math here. And he came to me and asked if I would consider stepping up because he needed to move away from it. That’s how I fell into it. 2005 was my first production, The Odd Couple,” she said. Ms. Reynolds remembers every play and every cast, but some stick in the mind more than others. “Every single [play] has a really special place in my heart. There are some that I can pick out that I do think back on a lot, maybe because I think we did them really well or something that happened during the course of the production that really made an impression on me. There are a few like that.

“I would say Harvey sticks out in my mind and for several reasons. One is the amazing set that Jim Morgan designed and built for us that was just incredible. But it was a wonderful cast who just inhabited their characters. I just thought that they did a really good job with that,” said Ms. Reynolds. “I was really proud of a few young men who took that on because a part of me felt that maybe I was taking on more than a high school should do because I don’t like to do a play and not to do it well,” she said.

Some students might be scared of joining a play, but those experienced in them are ready to give them the encouragement they need. “Just go to an audition open-minded,” said senior Jacob Rivera. “Don’t stress about it. Audition is the best thing you can do. The hardest part is [to] audition. Just do what you want,” said Rivera. 

“I know that there are a lot of people who think, ‘That would be fun, but I don’t have any experience, or I don’t know anything about it’ — whatever those fears or insecurities might be, it’s no reason [not to audition],” said Ms.  Reynolds. “You just need to come and have fun. We haven’t been able to do a play in two years now, so we are starting from scratch. It’s a great time to jump in and get involved. I have no expectations from last year because there was nothing. Don’t let the fact that you feel like you don’t know anything keep you either coming to audition for the play, certainly don’t let it keep you from coming to see the play. I just think that every student in this school should come and support the school play,” said Miss Reynolds. 

“The best part of theater is the people you meet and the people you get closer to,” said Rivera. “You get close to a lot of people and it’s sort of like you have your own network family that you have that you can always depend on. Because you guys are basically a family at the end of the show.”

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