MERIDEN— The cast and crew of Platt High School’s theater group will join hands in a circle and share positive energy by squeezing each other’s hands one by one as they prepare for opening night of ‘Fantasticks,’ their fall musical.
Platt Theatre will perform ‘Fantasticks,’ a 1960 musical by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.
The cast and crew has been working on the show since the second week of school, and the production is almost entirely student-run. Junior Megan Pomeroy designed and created the costumes. Michaela Nelson, a senior, is the stage manager and also choreographed most of the show’s dancing, and Emily Bravo designed most of the lighting and will be operating the light board during the show.
"As much as we could possibly have done by students, was done by students,” director and English teacher Ethan Warner said.
‘Fantasticks’ marks the first full season in the school’s newly-built auditorium. Last year, the theater program only had a few weeks to practice in its space before their production of ‘Cinderalla.’ Warner said having the new space made a big difference.
"With ‘Cinderella,’ “it was, what can we get done with the time we have... well here we can be a lot more purposeful and (focus on) how best can we use everything here,” Warner said.
On a more emotional level, the new auditorium has provided students with a place that they can identify with and call their own, Warner said.
"Having a space where the kids can come and they know it's theirs has been great for them and great for me,” Warner said. “Having that central space has really changed the program in a very good way."
The new state-of-the-art equipment in the auditorium also means students have more room to be creative and gain experience if they decide to pursue theater studies in higher education, Warner said. The new digital light and sound boards are as advance, if not more, than the ones students might encounter in college.
“There's a bit of a learning curve, but we are now able to do stuff with color, and movement and shapes, that we just couldn't do before. And we do a lot of that in this show,” Warner said. “We make sure to play around with and really explore what this new space is capable of.”
That also includes adding a 12-foot thrust onto the stage, bringing the actors much closer to the audience.
"Because the cast is smaller, because it's a more intimate show, we wanted to bring the actors closer to the audience so they can really feel like they're part of the story, really feel connected to the actors,” Warner said.
Warner said ‘Fantasticks’ was chosen as this fall’s show because it’s a fairly low-hassle show to put on, but also because it aligned with what students are learning in the school’s two theater classes and AP English.
This time of year, AP English covers a large unit on meta-fiction. “So now some of the kids that are in the play are writing their papers for the AP English class about the Fantsticks as an example of meta-fiction,” Warner said.
Students have found the show has more of a focus on acting than they were previously exposed to.
“Through this I've learned a lot of different acting things,” sophomore Angel-Lee said of preparing for her star-role as “Luisa.” “Roles that I've been in before didn't have much character interaction, so now I learn how to flow off other people and not just rely on myself."
Playing lead role “Matt” will be junior Kenneth Gonzalez’s first production in Connecticut and first show in full English. He moved from Puerto Rico in June and has been in musicals before, but only in Spanish.
When asked what he will remember most about this production, he said " how I started basically from the beginning since I moved. I didn't know anyone, I had to make new friends and meet new people. That's one thing I will always remember."
Rehearsals have been pretty smooth, but the final touches were added this week during dress rehearsals.
"I think that once the show gets there, I'll be calm and happy about how things are going. It's just stressful leading up to it,” stage manager and chereographer Michaela Nelson said.
Platt Theatre will put on the play ‘Game of Tiaras’ in March, part of hosting this year’s Connecitcut Drama Fest. In April, the production will be ‘The Laramie Project.’