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Alumni Write, Produce, and Star in Original Play

Caroline Goldenberg, Staff Writer

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On October 12-14, and with upcoming performances on the 19-21, five alumni of the school: Elizabeth Power (’09), Zoe Maltby (’10), Grace Merriman (’10), Lucas Ingram (’09), and Sophie Costanzi (’09) showcase their work in “My Parents are Here Tonight” at the Access Theater on 380 Broadway. 

Written by Maltby, “My Parents are Here Tonight” is directed by Power and co-produced and marketed by Merriman. Ingram designed the set and lighting, and Costanzi designed the costumes.

The Alumni on Stage show runs for 90 minutes and details the experiences of adolescents backstage at North Salem High School’s final performance of a King Lear inspired-production, Merriman said.

The show is loosely based on the alumni’s experiences in “Aspects of Lear!”, a variation on King Lear that they performed at the school in 2007, directed by Joseph Timko, Maltby said.

All the alumni who worked on “My Parents are Here Tonight” participated in “Aspects of Lear!”

“The thing I came out of it thinking was how universal it was,”Jonathan Nye, manager of the department of theatre at the school, who saw “My Parents are Here Tonight” on October 12th, said. “Anyone who has worked behind stage or onstage in a high school production” can connect with the show, or even “anyone who’s been in high school.”

When Maltby and Power first began to resume contact again several years ago, they found themselves returning to memories they had of “Aspects of Lear!” Maltby said.

“We had been wanting to work together on something for a while,” Power said.

In January 2016, Maltby began a first draft of “My Parents are Here Tonight.”

“I wanted to write a play that was a lot more universal than our specific experiences,” Maltby said. She began outlining characters and their interactions with one another, she said. This first draft was disorganized, she said. “I could tell that there was something that people responded to.”

Maltby developed the script, adding aspects from her own experiences and visions the team wanted to see onstage, she said.

Later that month, Maltby and Power hosted a cold reading of the show with several actors in the living room of the apartment they share, Power said. Following a few rehearsals, the team held a second reading in April at a studio, then decided to follow through with formal performances, Power said.

To cast two roles in the show, Maltby and Power posted a submission application on Backstage.com and Playbill.com. Other roles were filled by others the team knew and who had joined the production earlier in the process, and Maltby herself plays a role, she said.

The fact that three other school alumni of the school would end up involved was not intentional, Maltby said. Power and Maltby knew and trusted the work of these alumni – the main motivation in having them join the crew, Maltby said. The team ended up reaching out to Costanzi and Ingram, and Merriman volunteered upon hearing of the project, Power said.

Merriman fulfilled responsibilities of collecting donations for the production and advertising tickets, she said.

“I had a clear picture in my head of what the scenery would be,” Ingram said. Regarding lighting, Ingram “found ways to make the world look right within the choices [he] had available,” he said.

Following an approximately five-week rehearsal process, the play is now running.

“There were things [in the show] I had to let go of because we realized it just was not going to work,” Power said. One of these ideas was the play’s setting in a basement; when Power and Maltby surveyed the Access Theater and observed the windows in the space, they realized this part of the play would need to be altered, Power said.

The team was passionate about having audiences laugh and feel uplifted while watching the play, especially with everything occurring in the news today, Maltby said.

The cast is now accustoming to responding to different audiences, Power said. Each audience reacts to the show differently, some finding humor in moments other audiences did not, she said.

“I’ve always thought that the show was about the process we all go through of growing to accept and appreciate the things that we find fun…whether or not they’re considered cool,” Merriman said.

“It’s a play about celebrating your weird passions and celebrating the things you love that are not necessarily your life’s passion…and that it doesn’t have to be pre-professional – it doesn’t have to define you,” Maltby said.

1 Comment

One Response to “Alumni Write, Produce, and Star in Original Play”

  1. Caroline Bartels on October 26th, 2017 6:41 pm

    The show was fantastic and funny and because I remember the alums involved in this current production from when they were students, the show felt very immediate. There were moments I was laughing so hard I was crying, but that was probably because I was putting my own memories of “Aspects of Lear” on top of the performance I was seeing. It was such a good show!

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