New Theater Director Tackles Pressure and Performance at Pascack Hills

“They dug deep and really put themselves into the show, and the result was a show stopping musical filled with relatable experiences and emotions about what high school is actually like.”

Andresini and Freshman Riley Solomon at a performance of Under Pressure

The Pascack Hills Theatre club recently presented their fall production, Under Pressure, and they are now able to celebrate the outcome of the show with a brand new director, Ms. Allison Andresini.  

Although having big shoes to fill from their previous director, Allison took on an innovative, creative idea such as creating an entirely new show and in the process, has been welcomed into the Hill’s Theatre family.  

Andresini revealed that she “graduated from “Montclair State… where [she] discovered a love for directing and has “been working in theater professionally for 10 years” ever since.  

Andresini has entered countless works in film festivals all over the state including Hoboken and has directed plays in both New York and New Jersey.  While working with the Hill’s students, she is also working on a “post production for one short film”. Working more than one job, Andresini managed to take on a new challenge, meeting an entirely new group of performers, and putting on a completely original show in just a few months.  

“When I was hired to be the new theater director at Pascack Hills, I had been itching to get back to my roots in theater after working predominantly on movies for the past four years. However, I was hired so close to the end of school, that I didn’t have much of an opportunity to get to know my new students in the Pascack Hills Players club. Without knowing the vocal ranges, dancing ability, or even how many students I would have in the coming fall, I felt that choosing a random musical and hoping for the best wasn’t necessarily the best way to get to know my new cast” Andresini said.  

The different ranges and abilities of each performer were unknown to the new director when she started.  This could be looked upon as either a positive or negative fact. While this put her in a position where everything was rushed because they were also making their own show along with getting to know each other in the environment.  

However, choosing the specific time that they did to build their own show was debatably beneficial because she was able to get to know everyone’s strengths and weaknesses while building characters around their own personalities. 

“The majority of the theatre kids thought her idea of creating our own show was crazy and we weren’t 100% on board with it.  But, we took a chance, and after a while we built up our own structure. But we all ended up having the best time doing and secretly miss it now that it’s over,” Sophomore Rachael Lokshin said.  

The idea of meeting a new director, and then immediately after constructing a brand new show show did seem intimidating at first, but it did include benefits for the cast members. 

“We were all featured at one point in the show and we were all able to build our characters upon our own strengths in acting, singing, and dancing which was also useful when writing the script” Lokshin added.  

From the description of the cast and crew, the way the show was put together included a lot of stress and chaos along the way, but eventually, everyone was able to come together to build and celebrate something special.   

“The idea of building our own show felt like the best way to not only meet my new students, but to introduce them to my directing style in a unique way. The students were very nervous at first, but eventually we all came together and made something truly special,” Lokshin added.  

The students were intimidated by the idea at first, but after the play ended and they were able to look back on what they had done, everyone was happy with Allison’s potentially “crazy” idea.  

“I love Allison.  I think we were all nervous for a new director to come in, but Allison has proved to be all we asked for and more.  She helped us build something that we never thought we could do and I’m so excited to see what else she has in store!” Sophomore, Riley Solomon, said. 

The director herself was not sure about the decision she was making for the cast and crew, but eventually she felt the same way as the cast and was happy that the experience brought them closer.  

“Under Pressure was a musical revue with original scenes and monologues created and written with the cast themselves. This model of “devised theater” – theater developed collectively by an ensemble through discussion and improvisation – was taught to me in my undergraduate studies back in college,” Andresini said.  

This was an ambitious move by the cast which could have easily ended in disaster, however the cast and crew were able to see the director’s vision and work with her to build the story line.   

She went on to say “I have honed my own specific methods of devised theater and script development in the plays and films I’ve directed throughout my career, but never in the form of a musical and certainly never at a high school! This made Under Pressure truly unique.”

Andresini joined Pascack Hills, arguably, under pressure.  She mentioned previously that she wanted to get back to the basis of her craft and through this experience she was able to take away just as much as the cast and crew was able to. She looks forward to the next venture, Curtains.

“It was really fun to work with students who had never done anything like this before! They dug deep and really put themselves into the show, and the result was a show stopping musical filled with relatable experiences and emotions about what high school is actually like. I’m so proud of what the cast and crew accomplished with Under Pressure, and I can’t wait to begin work on our spring musical Curtains!”