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Peter and the Star Catcher: The Upperschool Play

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Bright lights, a big crowd, and a group of super hard working people; it might sound like  a football game, but it’s a play! The lights fade, curtains sweep aside, revealing a boy reaching into night sky.

This boy wasn’t just any boy; meet Kris Stam (‘21), or Peter Pan.

Behind this beautiful moment in Peter and the Starcatcher, the Peter Pan prequel, exists hours of after-school practice.

Stam loves theater and performing with friends. “You just build relationships with everybody in the cast, so it’s a super fun experience,” he said. “Rehearsals, even though they’re long and sometimes you’re just tired and don’t wanna rehearse, there’s such a big part of this whole experience because you’re building up to putting on the whole show.”

        Mrs. Rippel wanted to direct this play because “it captivated a lot of people’s imagination because Peter Pan is such a really iconic, cool story.” Rippel likes the play because it shows a wide range of emotion and personality. “Everyone can kind of relate to one of the characters in some way: never wanting to grow up or feeling you had to mother everybody else or being lost or enjoying being evil, perhaps.”

        Other students are very eager to see what will happen in this show, so when I asked her what we should expect, Peter and the Starcatcher is the backstory of Peter Pan’s life and all of his adventures before he became the magical character that is known by people from many different generations. She added, “Even though Peter Pan is a children’s story, this play actually really appeals to adults because there’s something about being reminiscent of your childhood that is really powerful. It really strikes a chord in people.”         

Though she’s been directing for 17 years, Rippel explained this show does not have as much of a “linear plot” as  previous ones. Instead of one setting, Starcatcher uses different settings. “I was kind of reticent to jump in, but I love the show so much and I thought it could be really good for Bolles, so I thought I’d give it a shot,” she said.

It also uses found objects, objects scattered on stage which become part of the set. Rippel said of the audience, “I think they’re going to be surprised by the level of play in the play, like the level of fun, creative, and imaginative play.”

        The cast of the original production had 13 men and one woman, however, high school theater programs have a different ratio of girls to boys. Disney owns the production rights and is understanding about casting. Rippel said, “As long as you play the character in the gender it was written, you can cast whoever you want.”

        Jake McGraw (’21) plays two female roles: nanny to Molly, the female lead, and a wise mermaid who helps Peter. McGraw, an experienced actor, said playing two different roles at once is fun because “when you’re just playing one role, it might start to feel old after a while, so then you can get to spice it up by playing a different role, even if it’s just for a few lines.”

        Rudzinski, who loves theater, says, “Being on stage is like a different world to me.” She will play a male sailor named Alf. She is very experienced with theater, and the first time she ever played a male role was a character named “Grandpa Joe” in Willy Wonka. However, she explains that “from being Grandpa Joe to being a sailor on a ship is totally different” because of the different sides of their stories, and even “how they walk, how they talk, and how they react to certain people.”

        Over 30 students auditioned for the play, and as much as Rippel would love to give everyone a part, she cut the cast down to 20 students, although the cast in the original play was made up of 14 people.

        The cast does not only have experienced theater students, but also students who are acting for the first time in years. Gregory Peiris (‘21) has not acted since 5th grade, so he was not sure of the concept at first. “I kind of went with the flow, which I probably shouldn’t have done, but I was able to get a part in the ensemble,” he said with excitement. “I just kept seeing myself doing stuff like this, and I was like, ‘Huh. Can I really do this?’ and I was like, ‘Maybe I can! There’s a fall play coming, so I’ll try out for that.’”

He hopes that he will inspire other students to believe in themselves the way he did.

        Rudzinski’s many years of being involved in theater helped her develop a powerful mindset. “If you are second guessing yourself, just go for it, because you never know if it’s gonna be amazing or if it’s gonna be trash!” It feels inspiring to see her use all of this positive energy on stage.

        Emma Bole (’21), one of the stage managers of the play, is excited to “see it all put together and looking great.” She works hard to help with running lines and blocking during rehearsals. She also loves bonding with the cast: “Everyone on cast is just one big family and there’s always plenty of laughs to move us along during tough scenes.”

        Rachel Johns (’19) is preparing for one of her last performances at Bolles. “It’s sad, but at the same time, it’s very satisfying,” she said. Even though she describes herself as “just another one of the actors,” she puts a large amount of effort into her work, so it feels like she is giving a “piece” of herself to the show and to leave behind at Bolles.        

        Johns also leads an activity during rehearsals known as “Beyonce Cardio”, which involves a lot of running in place, jumping jacks, and dancing while the song “Let’s Move” by Beyonce plays on the speakers.

Many shows require “really good cardio, because you have to dance and sing under the stage lights all the time. The stage lights feel like two suns burning down on you in immeasurable heat.”

It also helps the actors maintain their breath while they recite their lines. Even as middle school dancers continuously passed by us during our interview backstage, nothing could distract Johns from talking about something she is so passionate about.

                Grace Maroon (’21) has been acting since 5th grade and was in last year’s play, The Brothers Grimm Spectacular, and she enjoys being part of an ensemble that is more involved on stage. “I like being on stage and performing, so I love having a lot of lines like that.”  

Maroon and Rippel both agreed that this play will appeal to all ages, especially with the “modern references” and jokes that are mentioned throughout the story. The play will take place on November 15-17 at 7:00 P.M. in the Parker Auditorium at the Bartram campus.

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Peter and the Star Catcher: The Upperschool Play