GPAC brings theater back from the dead and into the light

by AJ Camisa

Photo by AJ Camisa

The cast of A Ghost for Rosanda rehearse for opening night on October 13. A Ghost for Rosanda shares the story of four school girls (played by Junior Ainsley Nelson, Junior Anna Forberg, Junior Mia Frank, and Sophomore Jaedon Salata) who arrive at a dilapidated, lonely old house planning to meet Rosanda (played by Junior Caroline Kondak), great-aunt of one of them, and spend two nights making up ghost stories, stories that become all too real.

Broadway in New York City has been lights off, curtains shut, and completely deserted. Many audience members have had to reschedule their tickets, flights, hotels, and schedules since March, 2020 to lessen the impact of the deadly Covid-19 virus.

Although the world of theater is still currently dying, Groves has revolutionized its theatre program to keep theater alive here, while still following COVID-19 guidelines.

Starting October 15, Groves Performing Arts Company (GPAC) will perform three separate plays in an event called Fright Fest. This dark event held outside in the light shows off the determination of Groves' actors to safely perform during the current pandemic.

Each show is made to a cast of fifteen or less to ensure social distance, performed outside to allow the audience to spread out and the actors to perform mask free, providing the community with a glimpse of hope and happiness during such an unprecedented time.

Fright Fest includes Ghost Hunt, a spooky tale with a surprise ending guaranteed to leave the audience with goosebumps. A group of seven students decide to spend the night in an abandoned house that is supposedly haunted. Phinn (played by Sophomore Owen Glossinger) and Joey (played by Junior Elsie Meilinger), who fancy themselves aspiring documentary filmmakers, have plans to capture the ghosts on film. Believing she is a medium, Sarah (played by Junior Hanna Drisko) hopes to communicate with the ghosts, but Timmy (played by Freshman Erika Sharafeddin-Rice), the prankster, keeps interrupting her focus. Apparently, the students were right about the house being haunted — a mysterious family in Civil War garb enters, looking for shelter from the storm. The weird thing is that our teenage ghost hunters can hear this father and mother and their three children, but they can’t see them. Before Phinn or Joey can unravel the mystery to capture the ghosts on film, Timmy barges in and scares the family off. The ghost hunt is on as the teenage ghost hunters do their best to capture the family on film before the spirits get the best of them!

The second show, A Ghost for Rosanda, shares the story of four school girls (played by Junior Ainsley Nelson, Junior Anna Forberg, Junior Mia Frank, and Sophomore Jaedon Salata) who arrive at a dilapidated, lonely old house planning to meet Rosanda (played by Junior Caroline Kondak), great-aunt of one of them, and spend two nights making up ghost stories. The point: Rosanda, who has lived in France for many years, now wants to return to her childhood home and advertise haunted house tours to make money. Rosanda arrives and describes a long-ago, imaginary murder that took place in an old chest in the room. The girls' fears continue to rise after Rosanda leaves, and they take turns telling ghost stories which culminate in the near death of one girl in the old chest. Exhausted and asleep at last, the girls are unaware that when they awake and hurry away they will see the real ghosts of Rosanda, her French maid, Yvette (played by Sophomore Lea Milanini), and their mutual lover, Chadwick (played by Junior Alex Warren). The murder was real, and the house is already Haunted. The final show of the event is the classic Dracula, In this adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic tale, an ancient vampire arrives in England to once again become the conqueror, and to prey upon the innocent—but Professor Van Helsing (played by Senior Clare Birley), Mina Murray (played by Senior Sami Meal), and their stalwart friends are determined to avenge the fallen and stop him before it’s too late. Each spectacular show uses the effects of projections and lights to provide the audience with a spooky theme during the Halloween season.

Actors weren't expecting a way to perform during these unprecedented times, but thanks to theater and English teacher John Rutherford, these performances became a reality. Senior GPAC member Hayden Miller reflected on the importance of Fright Fest during quarantine.

“Being able to put a performance on for the community during such an unprecedented time is really an awesome feeling. By performing in Fright Fest we are not only coming together as students, but also as a community. Bringing smiles and joy to the people in our community is what theater is all about,” Hayden said.

Hayden felt safe while rehearsing and performing the show Dracula because of the guidelines enforced by GPAC director and English teacher John Rutherford.

“I never felt that I was in a position to be infected with COVID-19. While performing, we always kept a six foot distance, and, when we were closer to each other, we always made sure to have our masks on," Hayden said. "I really think Groves and Mr. Rutherford did an excellent job in ensuring that the students and their families remained safe while going through the rehearsal process.”

Fright Fest is live October 15, 16, and 17. Friday and Saturday’s shows sold just a few days after being announced on Groves' website, but there are still tickets for Thursday night's show. All shows are 8:00 p.m. outside in front of the Groves Auditorium

Tickets are available for purchase at Groves Performing Arts Tickets.

Come join the rest of the community outside the Groves High School Auditorium to bring the artistic side of your life back from the dead.

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The Scriptor | Newspaper at Groves High School | 20300 W. 13 Mile Road, Beverly Hills, MI 48025