MD Shenanigan Show features student humor through skits


Katya Tolunsky, Staff Writer

The Horace Mann Theater Company (HMTC) partnered with the Middle Division (MD) to create the Shenanigans Show, a production that students wrote, directed, performed, and edited. The show, containing a series of pre-recorded comical skits, premiered last Friday over Zoom.

One of the skits, called Film Noir, was based on stereotypical “film noir” movies, a cinematic genre focused on Hollywood crime dramas, Loewy Miller (7). The skit is about students who assume that a science teacher has been murdered after she goes missing. The skit ends with the science teacher coming in and announcing that she was just late due to traffic. 

Publicity officer Bailey Hecht (10) organized the show. She collected signups from MD students who were interested, met with the students, collected skit ideas, delegated work, and made sure everyone met their deadlines, theatre teacher Haila VanHentenryck said. 

With the MD musical production “Our Town” still up in the air, Bailey wanted to give the MD an opportunity to perform for their peers before the school year ended, she said. “It was really exciting to see what the middle schoolers came up with all on their own.” 

All of the skits were humorous and lighthearted, Catherine Mong (8) said. Mong co-wrote and starred in a skit based on stereotypes about the various zodiac signs. “In the skit, people were acting like the stereotypes of their zodiac signs, interacting with each other, and just causing chaos.” Mong was inspired by her astrology Instagram account, which she runs with a friend, she said. 

Ella Hecht (7) chose to join the Shenanigans Show because she was excited by the idea of a play written and filmed entirely by MD students, she said. Ella helped write and star in a skit called “Low Budget Marvel,” in which the students acted out one of the scenes from Captain America Civil War. “We took the famous scene and recreated it, but made it seem like we had no money to produce it,” she said. For example, students used an old vinyl record for Captain America’s shield.

VanHentenryck’s favorite part of the show was a skit called “Stuff No One Says at HM,” created by Alice Davis (7), she said. “Some of the one-liners in that sketch are golden and very witty,” she said. “I actually laughed out loud while watching when they said ‘FirstClass is so fast and efficient’ or ‘Lord of the Flies has really held up well all these years.’”

Students prepared for the show quickly, Bailey said. They had two weeks to write, film, and edit all the skits they came up with and they filmed the skits during their lunch periods, Ella said. 

The Shenanigans Show differed from other MD productions Mong has been in, she said. For example, the process of filming the Shenanigans Show was less structured than the filming of Our Town, since MD students do not have the same expertise as theatre teacher Benjamin Posner does. “But it was definitely a nice opportunity to be able to create something and see everything come together in the end,” she said.

Miller found the idea of having power and responsibility to be daunting at first, he said. “There was sort of the impending question of ‘What if we don’t get it done on time?’” But in the end, the production was just as thrilling and exciting as Our Town, Miller said.

Ethan Furman (7), who helped write and act in a few skits, found it difficult to set deadlines for himself. “You’re really the one that’s running the show,” he said. 

Some of the ideas for the skits did not end up exactly as the students had planned, Furman said. “We came up with these ideas, and in our heads they were great, but because of COVID and the amount of time we had, we weren’t able to do it exactly as we had hoped,” he said. Nevertheless, Furman enjoyed taking part in the show and the independence the students had in making it, he said. 

Bailey enjoys knowing that the play was done all by middle schoolers, she said. “I know when I was in middle school I always wanted more theater opportunities, so I hope they enjoyed what we worked to give them,” she said. “I find that student written shows can be a toss up, and I think this one came out amazingly well.”

Miller was proud of the final product, he said. “I think it’s really inspiring to see what you can create when you really double down and care about a project,” he said. “The final production was better than anything I could have ever imagined MD students could accomplish.”