The Prowler

Theatre Retreat a Monster Success

Rafael Monkarsh, Student Life Edtitor

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From the morning of November 11 to the evening of November 12, the cast, crew, pit orchestra, and faculty  of Young Frankenstein gathered on campus for a day-and-a-half retreat comprised of rehearsal, construction, games, and bonding.

This is the sixth year of Diane Feldman’s sleepover tradition, which has come to signify the launch of the musical season. Prior to the retreat, cast, crew, and pit operate largely separate from each other. Following this ritual session of bonding, however, the various factions of the musical production coalesce into a wondrous machine that puts on one hell of a show.

If you’ve never ventured into the “backstage” of our musical productions (or talked to someone who has), then you probably don’t know of the intense machine of production that is built over the months leading to and during the performances in January and February. Now, as a stagehand, I am glad to hide the intricacies of the machine behind the stage curtain; the less the audience knows, the more it appears to be “theatre magic.”

Yet, watching the cast, crew, and pit put aside their varied responsibilities and sing, dance, eat, and play together is a great experience made possible by the wonderful faculty organizing the production.

One highlight of the weekend was the “Frankenstein Game,” in which all students were given clothespins bearing the word “Frankenstein.” For the whole retreat, no-one could speak the words “Frankenstein,” “Frank,” “Stein,” or any other combination or pronunciation of those words. (As you can imagine, this led to communication difficulties when trying to refer to a certain music teacher.) If one heard someone else say the word, they would obtain the clothespin from the offender. At the end of the retreat, the individual with the most pins won the game, and, ironically, that individual was Mr. Stein.

Dr. Lise Spiegel joined everyone on Friday afternoon to discuss the subject of Young Frankenstein, “The Brain!” She led conversations regarding how the brain’s continuous development in teens results in issues with time management and organization, a constant hurdle for those involved in the production.

Our “Mysterious Moses” tradition, in which each member of cast, crew, and pit are randomly and secretly assigned someone for whom they must procure a present, followed Friday night’s dinner and Shabbat service. Spirits were high and laughter churned the air as people guessed, sometimes correctly, who had gifted their present.

“It’s a fun yearly tradition that gets everyone involved,” Andrew Starkman, a junior in Stagecraft, said of Mysterious Moses. “It’s really cool to see cast, crew, pit, and faculty gathered in one big circle to celebrate each other.”

Friday night commenced with a viewing of our play Urinetown, which won the Jerry Herman Award for Best Production in 2016. Those who participated in the play rushed to the front of the auditorium to act out the scenes that were taking place on the screen behind them while the newer members of the musical family experienced the play for the first time.

The retreat finished with a puppet show in which groups of students were given a style in which to perform a skit with puppets. We set up a light behind a cyclorama (a white curtain made specifically to project lights on), put the puppets in front of the light, and watched as the characters danced across the screen.

The theatre retreat is, year after year, an instrumental catalyst that launches the musical production. This year was no different, and I’m excited to see what this collection of wonderful people will produce for Young Frankenstein.

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