PHHS players are under pressure

Justine Marinkovic

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As Fall set in, the Pascack Hills Players returned to rehearse for their newest production, Under Pressure.  As sets were built and the sound of piano keys bounced off the theatre walls, another aspect of the show was also being prepared by the cast and crew themselves… the script. The fall drama, came to the Hill’s auditorium on November 14th – 17th.  

The plot took place in high school, the week before Thanksgiving, and students underwent extreme amounts of stress while tension raced down the hallways.  Through the duration of the production, small aspects of high school that cause stress, pressure, and other problems were showcased in the plot that the creative crew orchestrated.  

Members of the production created the entire show, including the actors’ dialogue based on an arguably relatable high school environment for some; which is something the Hills Theatre community has not yet attempted. The entirety of Under Pressure’s premise was to display the drawbacks and drama associated with high school friendships and relationships which most teenagers could relate too whether or not it is the exact situation.

“The show [was] created by us and our creative team. It’s very different from last year in terms of having to do both writing and perfecting at the same time,” Sophomore Riley Solomon said. 

The ambitious move made by the cast and crew put the entire team in jeopardy because nobody knew if the show was going to result in complete success or complete failure.  

“This year, the roles [were] a lot more inclusive, a lot more people [got] different roles to showcase different abilities.  I know on my end, I am not the strongest singer, but I do believe I’m a better actor and I [got] a greater opportunity to show that in this play,” cast member Rachael Lokshin added.

While this new challenge was one that potentially improved the success of the show, it also put a greater amount of stress on the team in charge during the last few weeks leading up to opening night. 

When asked about the starting process of the play, director, Allison Andresini mentioned “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 isn’t necessarily the best way to get to know my new cast”.  

After seeing the success of the show, Allison later added, “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”.

“[Writing the show] was a big change, as [the cast] did not have to write the script in the past. It did add stress when it came to to fluidity of dialogue, but I believe that it allowed for more creativity and unique features,” Crew Member Sean Manole said.

As the production came closer to opening night, the creative crew proceeded to conclude their script and all of the aspects of the play that are built around the writing.  

“I [wanted]  to go to the play because I think it is cool that they wrote their own script. Going to games is fun during the Fall, but I wanted to see what else Hill’s students [could] do,” Freshman Briana Keenan said.

The 2019 Fall production, Under Pressure was based upon a potentially detrimental idea to do something that has not been done before.  Actors and Crew were all skeptical about the decision because the plays they based their production on in previous years led to enough stress so the idea of starting completely from the beginning was imaginable for some.  However, the stress was all worth it, because the show was a success. “I thought after all the time they put in, it turned out spectacular” said sophomore, Michael Blackford.

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