TPHS showcases art on campus

“Our Town” by the TPPlayers

A work of art is truly successful when the viewer can see a piece of themselves in it.  “Our Town,” a quintessential American play about love and loss, masters this mirror-like effect perfectly, describing a town so universal, so relatable, that any viewer could imagine their own town in its place. TP Players’ performance of this iconic play was no different – leading the audience to reflect on their own home and the people close to them. With its raw acting and touching message, “Our Town” is perhaps their most impactful production yet. 

“Our Town” is a play about the fictional town Grover’s Corners and the deeply connected lives of the people living in it. The story mostly follows the relationship between George Gibbs, played by  Jack Renda (10) and Emily Webb, played by Ryen Mortimer (11). As the story progressed, the audience watched as the two formed a budding friendship in their youth, to their wedding day, and eventually to Emily’s death in the final act. Though the first two acts are slow-paced, the wait is worth it when the story culminates in a heart-wrenching message as Emily reflects on her life and all she should have appreciated from beyond the grave. 

On the surface, the play’s production appeared very minimal. The scenes were bare with few props– only a few tables and chairs sprawled across the stage– and there was also very little sound. The understated quality even carried over into costume design. Matt Lee (12), the costume designer, assembled a simple yet impactful wardrobe, with the outfits having a classic American feel. This bareness was oddly fitting for the play’s character-led plot; it allowed the audience to focus on the characters’ development and interconnecting relationships. “Our Town” is not flashy; it is unassuming and raw in its presentation. It is a play for theater lovers, for those who appreciate the mastery of simple storytelling without extra embellishments. 

The production’s minimalistic approach was complemented by the immense presence of the cast. Each actor perfectly fitted their respective role, truly embodying the people they played as their mannerisms and demeanors melted into those of their characters. Libby Bezdek (12) who played Mrs. Gibbs had an especially inspired performance; the audience was alive with laughter at her comedic lines and hushed at tender moments between her and her daughter Emily. 

“Our Town” is a play that exposes the human experience of failing to appreciate the world around you while you have the chance. As a sparse crowd watched characters who regretted not valuing the beauty before them, an eerie parallel hung in the air. Just like how Emily did not cherish her life, the appreciation for theater is dwindling. When this art form has such a capacity to make one feel so much-– to see a snippet of their life captured on stage, even if for a moment— it is a pity more do not appreciate it. Productions like “Our Town” from TP Players certainly accomplish this pivotal ability of theater. Even if it was for an intimate crowd, they created magic on stage with this performance.

“Expression Session” by the TPHS Dance Team

Dancers line the walls of the dance room in support of their fellow friends and performers. Although nerves are running high on the night of rehearsal before the big show, so are their spirits. Everyone puts on their best performances, for the culmination of their efforts is coming close. As the curtains open, they hope that the concert will be one that no one will forget.

The Expression Session kicked off with a  mellow rock song, “The Learning Ground,” presented by fifth-period Advanced Dance class. The dancers moved in perfect sync, and you could feel the song’s steady rhythm in the way each beat and note was met with a move of equal force.

A shift in tone, “Barbs,” was performed by the Varsity Small Hip Hop Competition Team with flashy lighting to reflect the high energy and excitement of the song. The dancers followed suit, each and every move backed with clear intent and power, expressing the heavily percussion-based nature of the song.

Riley Testa (12) performed the first solo of the night to “Where the Wild Things,” which she choreographed herself. Testa’s precision and technical mastery were apparent, dazzling the audience with impressive jumps and turns. Many of the movements were focused on leg and footwork, displaying great flexibility and fluidity.

Regan Gurguis (12) and Libby Bezdek’s (12) vocal rendition of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” was as comedic as the vocals were astounding. The natural chemistry was apparent in the playful back-and-forth banter between them, and the beautiful harmonies made it enjoyable to watch and listen to.

Caitlyn Vanhoose (9) began her solo, “Harmless Monster,” by unrolling herself from a blue, satin cloth from stage left. The way she contorted her body was impressively inhuman, fitting the theme of the song. It ended with her returning to the cloth, reflecting how monsters traditionally appear at night and vanish by day.

To conclude the first act, the Medium Varsity Contemporary Competition Team performed “Dark Waltz,” which left me completely enamored with how the pitch-black dresses and deep, dark blue lighting made them appear almost as silhouettes.

The heavily story-based “Parameter,” performed by the Varsity X-Small Contemporary Competition Team stood out to me the most. A sense of paranoia was created by a scene of dancers in black lurking in the shadows as a solo girl in white fearfully swiveled her head around, wary of her surroundings but without a subject to pinpoint her worries on.

Overall, all the dance teams nailed their performances, putting the mastery of their art on display refined through hours of preparation and training. The wide variety of styles of dance made it so that there was something interesting for everyone to watch, and the talent of each dancer shone clear and bright under the lights of the stage.

Read on Issuu.

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