Malden High School Play Production Presents: Gypsy

The production of the play Gypsy was a long process; the crew assembled a blockbuster on the 19th and 20th of November. The students in Play Production spent hours memorizing lines, blocking, and cues. The students bonded with each other, which came in handy for the production. 

First and foremost, the very foundation of the show had to be decided. Music director Todd Cole proposed Gypsy and Play Pro advisor Leanna DeRosa signed off on the idea. While some of the group had seen the play before and others heard songs, many of the students did not know of the play. After some explaining and a workshop from Cole, the students were ready to audition. DeRosa remarked that auditioning is “really nerve-wracking for most kids, but they are super successful with it.” For the audition, the students have to sing a song and read from a script in front of their peers. 

To make sure that everyone will have an important role in the production, DeRosa was sure to cast a tech crew, such as props managers and a stage director. ”We go through marketing and we have a prop person so there are always things that people can do.” Once the main characters Mama Rose, Louise June, and others fell into place, the supporting roles came and the entire crew had a task. 

The next step for Gypsy was blocking and preparation. Most of the time DeRosa read through the script and came up with ideas for how the play would move along, even though the plan “might change a million times as [they went] on in the rehearsal process.” However, the number “Mr. Goldstone” required between seven and eight people to be constantly moving together on stage when normally there is  a maximum of seven to eight people on the stage. 

A huge step for the students was becoming their character on stage. In order to prepare, the crew came up with backstories for the characters that may have not been expanded on as much as the main characters in the play. Some students practiced accents while others tried to get in a specific mindset. 

Sophomore Brian Vences, who played “Pop,” mentioned that his role required him to have an angry outburst in a scene. Vences explained he would “try to think of things that make [him] angry.” Vences continued that once he had that “explosion” mindset he would “try to get the most genuine performance.” 

Senior Yusra Tafraoui’s strategy for playing “Mama Rose” was to “just try not to be negative.” She said that her “character does not like being vulnerable” and Tafraoui felt “stressed out,” especially with a big production. So, she “focused on what can go right and continued to remember how to be confident.” Junior Penelope Buckingham however, thought it was “easy to get into character when you have the costume and the set when you are on stage”

The tech crew was also working behind the scenes to make sure the props and lighting worked properly. Prop Manager, sophomore Kaitlyn Pham, remarked that “we pretty much went through the entire script and we picked out pieces necessary for props and … made this big list and then our manager gave us a little diagram to section things out between scenes” 

Long-time friend of DeRosa and Technical Director, Kayla Morello, was mainly in charge of the homemade props, like a free-standing door, a light-up sign displaying “Rose” and a 2-dimensional car. They were also in charge of lighting, reflecting on how it was “a little crazy at one point. There were a couple of sequences where some very specifically timed cues had to be timed with the actors on the stage and the curtain at the same time.” They have a spot operator “who has to work a spot at the right time and it has to be on an actor at the right time and go off at the right time, that Rose sign has to come down and light up at the right moment.”

After a few months of practice, the team came to its penultimate challenge: tech week. Tech week is notorious for putting actors through long periods of work. The crew practiced Monday through Thursday from four o’clock to nine o’clock. While this time can be stressful and quite taxing, it is a necessary evil that when done right can lead to a spectacle of a show. Furthermore, the crew’s hard work paid off and the bond held true. “Everyone in this class is so nice. And I just love coming to class every day,” sophomore Emma Spignese-Smolinsky remarked. 

Morello added, “I love the kids. There's always something one of the students will say to me that . . . is why I want to do this,” and “makes it worth it.” Morello continued that “I love seeing them excited when I bring set pieces or lights together and they see their stuff for the first time and they just feel so excited. They're like ‘yeah, so cool!’ That makes me feel really really good.”

DeRosa commented that “they worked so so so hard.” Senior Yasmine (Mena) Alayan wanted to stress that she’s “very thankful to Ms. DeRosa, Mr. Cole and everyone who's helped put this production together.” She was really happy that they decided to put her in the play and that they “are amazing people.” Vences recommends to people thinking of joining Play Production to “go for it.” Tafraoui simply said, “I'll see you on Broadway!”

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