B y Bill Toscano
Like coaches choosing what offense and defense to run, Chris Palmer and Marc Pratt take a look at the talent the Whitehall Drama Club has coming back and choose their spring musical based on the strengths of the club members.
“We look at the possibilities and look at the kids we believe will come out for auditions,” Palmer said last week, prior to rehearsal. “We make the decision based on who we believe we have.”
This year, for the 10th annual production, Palmer and Pratt chose “Once Upon a Mattress,” and at the auditions they saw something else that seems to happen each time they put on a show. “Every year, we have a surprise during auditions, and people come up and make a splash,” Palmer said.
Rehearsals speeding up
They are also used to the ebb and flow of the rehearsals, which will lead to performances on April 1 and 2.
The turning point came last week, when the season ended for the boys and girls basketball teams, meaning there’s now more time for many performers to focus on the play.
“The kids have the story line down, and we’re starting to witness some funny tidbits,” Palmer said. “As they fine tune the scenes, the audience will be entertained.
“It’s a very funny show.”
The play, based on the story of the princess and the pea, is set in the 1400s and will portray, as Palmer puts it, “Hilarity in the pursuits of love and independence.”
With a cast of 43
With a cast of 43, including some invited eighth-graders, Palmer could not list every performer, but he chose to focus on his seniors, some of whom are doing their fifth performance with him.
Katie Paddock is playing Queen Aggravain. Troy Dauntless is Troy Rollins; Loren Martell is Princess Winnifred. Lily Landon is Princess No. 12. Nadab Bhatti is Sir Harry. Danny Lowe plays Sire Luce and Chris Hollister is a knight.
This year’s shows will be at 7:30 p.m., Friday April 1, and at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Saturday, April 2.
This year, the club decided to lower ticket prices to $5 to allow more members of the community to see the performance.
Community involvement key
The productions reach outside the walls of the school and into the community.
While there are no adults in this year’s play so far, they have appeared in a number of them, starting with the inaugural musical, “South Pacific.”
Adults do play a major role in other areas.
Sondra Smith, a Whitehall graduate and local dance teacher, has done the choreography.
Smith’s parents are also very involved. Her mother, Cheryl Putorti, is in charge of the annual basket party that raises much of the group’s funding.
The party will start at noon, Sunday, March 6.
Mayor Francis “Fra” Putorti, Cheryl Putorti’s husband, does the sound and lights for the show.
Joyce Leipfert does costuming. Kathy Greenough is an assistant to the directors and Melissa Clark will join the pit orchestra, playing the clarinet.
In addition, Palmer often calls up technology teacher Ben Reynolds and art teacher Liz Ling for their help.
As co-director, Pratt runs half the rehearsals and is in charge of putting the pit orchestra together.