Senior Isabella Nyerges (VA) sells stuffed animals at Winter Market
Photo by Justin Johnson
Getting Chills from VA Winter Market
Three rooms in the DMS are packed with students, teachers and various outsiders perusing (and purchasing) various custom knickknacks, pieces of jewelry, and a suspiciously large supply of succulents. Yes, one of OCSA’s most unique Yuletide traditions has finally arrived: the Visual Arts Conservatory’s Annual Winter Market, a fundraiser that gives VA students a chance to show off their talent and make some money.
In addition to the entrepreneurial spirit of the market, the fundraiser does a lot to foster OCSA’s artistic community. A first time vendor at the market, sophomore Olivia Aiken (VA), said, “It’s really cheery. You get to meet a lot of different people… Everyone gets together and you make art and you share art.”
The market has come a long way in the 13 years that the school has been putting it on. It started out with just 14 vendors in the Tower. Over the past couple of years, the fundraiser has massively expanded. Three-year Winter Market veteran, junior Mark Veksler (VA), remarked, “It used to be very small, in a tent in the Annex parking lot. The first year I did it, [it] was pouring rain. It was insane! But over the past two years, it’s become a much bigger deal and much more organized. I was able to expand my business.”
One of the main appeals of the Winter Market for VA students is gaining business experience. Randy Au, co-director of the Visual Arts conservatory, put it like this: “In the last three years, the Winter Market has become a way for our Visual Arts students to think about using their skill to produce something that they can sell… We take them through the whole process of sourcing and pricing, displays… [and] really thinking of using artistic skill as a business.”
And of course, the Winter Market cannot be fully discussed without mentioning its now iconic mascot, Captain Snowflake. As Au described his creation, “He was a way to get attention. Captain Snowflake and his elves would go out on Main Street and jump around and yell at people, that kind of thing. I would like to think that he has become a beloved icon... He appears only once a year. He’s actually kind of shy.”
The Winter Market is one of the largest and most involved fundraisers of the entire school year, giving students a unique opportunity for both experience and profit, as well as giving other students, teachers, and parents an opportunity to get some high quality merchandise.
Photo by Justin Johnson
Teacher of the Month: Cory in the House
If you attended middle school at OCSA, chances are you learned the foundations of math or science from Mr. Tague. Cory Tague, a 14-year OCSA veteran, has taught subjects ranging from physical science to pre-algebra, and now teaches Math 2 and Math 3. Tague attended CSU Bakersfield on a swimming scholarship and received a bachelor’s degree in biology, and went on to receive his teaching credential from National University and a master’s in educational leadership from CSU Dominguez Hills.
The Huntington Beach native (who attended Edison High School, just 11 miles from his current classroon in the OCSA Annex) is probably best known by students for his tall tales about lifeguarding. Tague sat down with Evolution to dive a little deeper.
What do you like about teaching middle schoolers?
When I started teaching, I taught everything from kindergarten to AP Calculus. I wanted to figure out where I wanted to teach, and so I substitute taught every grade, every course, every subject, everything. I really enjoyed the energy in middle school, and middle school students still really seem to like their teachers. All of them! [For] high school students, sometimes it’s like the teacher’s the enemy. Their perspective starts to change a bit. Some teachers can’t handle the energy of middle school students, but I love it.
If you could be in a conservatory, which one would you choose?
Visual Arts. I enjoy drawing. I don’t enjoy showing it off or anything, but I took some drawing classes in college. The worst one though, I thought it would be fun...with a bunch of my friends my freshman year, I took Nude Figure Drawing. The entire time I don’t think we had a model in class that was under the age of 80. By the end of it, it was all too much. It was so hard to go to class. We meant it to be a funny filler class. It ended up being the most painful experience to go.
What do you think your reputation is among your students?
I think I would get mixed reviews. There’s students I’ve held accountable for things they don’t like and aren’t used to being held accountable [for], and have very strong negative feelings about me. I think there’s responsible students that I praised and rewarded highly that probably have a more positive perspective. I think in the last couple years I struggled myself with the change in curriculum and with the Common Core. I feel bad for students I had two or three years ago when we first transitioned. I think I learned more in the past two or three years about how to teach math than the prior ten years. This year is the year I finally feel like I’m really getting this. Now I feel like I’m finally at a place where everything’s working.
If you could teach any class, what would you teach?
I would want to teach a class we don’t have. At Edison High School...there’s a teacher there that raises endangered fish, like white sea bass. They have tanks where they’re raising things as a class and learning how to control the environment so they reproduce or grow at a fast rate, and they’re released back into the wild. I would love to do something like that, but it takes a lot of time and space.
Tell me your wildest lifeguarding tale.
We had a swim race at midnight on a full moon every summer, where we had to swim around the closest oil derrick, which was like a mile and three-quarters off shore. Swimmers obviously had to have a paddler who could see up and give them a straight line with all the currents in pitch black. The last year that we did the race, I was paddling for my supervisor, who was a police officer. He won the race, and we came in [to shore]. I could see that other people were arriving that weren’t seriously racing, just kind of goofing around, and they all started climbing up onto the oil derrick and jumping off and swinging on a rope. The Huntington Beach Police helicopter was there and the pilots were scoring their dives. Shell Oil Company got really upset, because people work and live on those derricks. Our lifeguard chief, who was one of the highest ranking lifeguards in the whole state, pulled everybody that was there into a meeting and handed everybody this envelope. He said, “Don’t open them.” He opens up his envelope and he reads out loud, “You are hereby fired from the state of California with cause, which means you may never work for a state agency again in your life.” Like, reads this whole thing. People are freaking out in this room. And then he sets it down and he goes, “That’s the letter all should have received. But I can’t expect to man this beach safely this summer without all of you on it.” It was scary, because it could’ve made me not be able to work for teaching. I didn’t even do anything! And the guy that I paddled for won! They no longer do the Bad Moon Rising swim race. There’s a trophy for it in the lifeguard headquarters but it’s got a lot of blank plaques. They’ll never be adding to it again.
Mr. Wood and the staff of Inkblot.
Photo by Isabelle Grybow
Inkblot: OCSA's Ink-Credible Literary Magazine
Despite the shocked responses that’ll stem from this revelation, OCSA indeed has a library! One can easily endure their entire OCSA career without setting foot in or learning of this magical and memorable niche on campus, tucked deep in the bowels of Symphony Hall, i.e. the basement.
Headquarters for the Creative Writing Conservatory and home to countless works of life-changing literature, this corner of the campus is also home to Inkblot.
Inkblot is OCSA’s award-winning, annual, student-run-and-edited literary magazine. Each year a group of creative writers work to consolidate student submissions of writing and artwork into a publication.
Joshua Wood, who serves as both the Creative Writing director and Inkblot’s adviser for the past 11 of its 14 years of existence, sums up Inkblot’s history.
“Inkblot was started by students in the first years of Creative Writing. [We] didn’t even have a room; students would just meet in the breezeway. Over the years, we’ve had some very interesting rooms, like the closet in the basement of the Tower. We were there for two years. One year we came back to campus and they literally had turned it into a clothes closet.”
Despite its humble beginnings, Inkblot has grown a presence on OCSA’s campus. It continues to expand as student submissions increase every year.
The reward for submission is either publication or rejection. As Wood put it, “Rejection is also a process artists need to get used to.”
“Students can see their work published in a professional-level publication,” said Wood. “Inkblot has less than a 20 percent acceptance rate. Getting rejected and getting past [rejection] is essential for growth as an artist.”
Junior Hailey Andrews (CW) elaborated, “I think Inkblot can act as a stepping stone for other publishing endeavors... There’s something validating and satisfying about seeing your work in a tangible form.”
Inkblot is routinely honored by the National Council of Teachers of English. “[Inkblot] usually receives one of the two highest honors: Highest and Excellent,” said Wood.
This year’s Editors-in-Chief are seniors Brooke Lee, Cassandra Hsiao, and Julia Jorgensen, all in Creative Writing.
Inkblot meets on Thursdays during conservatory where they review submissions.
There are two deadlines for submissions. The first deadline is January 12. Those who submit by this date will receive feedback on their piece if they are rejected. Otherwise, the final deadline is March 9. All submissions must be submitted via the link below by the afore- mentioned date to be considered for publication in the 2017 edition of Inkblot.
All students regardless of conservatory are encouraged to submit.
This year’s edition will be available for purchase at Season Finale, May 27. However, past issues are always available for purchase.
Senior Justice Mirabal (CM), Senior Trinity Milosek (CM) and Sophomore Hannah Eyre (CM)
Photo by Crystal Uribe
Ringing in "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year"
Gifts, hot chocolate and everything people love about Christmas were jam-packed into this year’s South Coast Plaza Tree Lighting. This was an amazing comeback after last year when, unfortunately, an electrical issue caused the tree to burn down. The Segerstrom family obviously did not let this ruin their Christmas spirit, because this year’s tree was adorned with over 150,000 lights. People gathered around to not only watch the 96-foot tree come to life, but to watch the amazing performances by OCSA’s Montage and Unplugged performing groups.
To start this lively christmas show, Unplugged showcased their skill with crisp harmonies and vocals.They sang the classic Christmas tunes we know and love such as “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” Junior Ethan Clayton (MT) had loads of fun being in tree lighting for his second year.
“I love everyone in Unplugged, but especially our teacher Mr. Johnson,” said Clayton. “He’s as sweet as Santa Claus and has enormous amounts of music knowledge and experience! Tree Lighting really captures the magic of the season ”
After Unplugged concluded their set, Montage began their portion of the show by showing off their insane vocals, energetic dance combinations and fun skits throughout. They added their own pop twists to many classics, including “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year," “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “All I Want for Christmas Is You."
Montage also brought to life the iconic Christmas characters Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman. Sophomore Joey Sable (MT) got the opportunity to play Rudolph for his first year of participating in the lighting. He loved the experience as a whole but would have to admit “the Rudolph head was difficult at times because of the weight.”
The night was a success and got everyone who attended in the Christmas spirit. The Segerstrom family has created something that has become a tradition for many and something to always look forward to.Clayton summed it up perfectly: “People nowadays are always in need of some happiness and tree lighting is a great way to give that back.”
Photo Courtesy of Peter Striffolino
Holiday Baking Guide: Peanut Candy Crunch and Mr. Striffolino's Pignolata
The transition from the end of Thanksgiving and the fall season to the beginning of Christmas and other wintry holidays leaves us wondering what the holidays would be without food. When asked this question, Colleen Happ, teacher of the Food History class, an academic elective class for Culinary Arts students in which they learn about how food has changed the course of history from 12000 B.C. to the present, replied, “I can answer that as an English teacher instead of a Food History teacher. The theory is that food is communion. When you share food with someone, it’s the most intimate thing you can do. It connects us because you are becoming one with them through eating the same food. When you eat food with someone, they can’t be your enemy anymore.”
This concept seems entirely possible through Happ’s favorite holiday dish, a peanut candy crunch she makes every year with her family from West Virginia. Happ says that they all have to work together to make it and that her grandmother would always help. “She died in June at 101 years old, so this will be our first Christmas making the candy without her,” said Happ. “But we are still going to do it be- cause that’s what we do every year.”
Peanut Candy Crunch, from Kingwood, WV
3 c. sugar
1 c. light Karo syrup 1⁄2 c. water
Pinch of salt
18 oz. creamy all-natural peanut butter
Mix these together in a saucepan and boil to 300 degrees, measure with candy thermometer.
In a large greased heavy skillet, spread 18 oz. creamy all-natural peanut butter (no additives, just peanuts and salt- the commercial brands have additives that make the candy fall apart). Slowly add the boiling sugar mixture, stirring carefully.
Now comes the painful part. Pull off a chunk of the hot candy mix, and roll it into a snake about an inch wide. Pass the snake off to assistants with scissors, who cut the snake into 1 inch pieces, dropping them on an ungreased cookie sheet. Time is of the essence, so it helps to have two assistants. The candy will cool and harden in less than 10 minutes.
An alternate method is to pour the mixture onto a marble slab, and cut into squares with a pizza cutter, but that eliminates the fun of burning your hands together with family. Enjoy!
Peter Striffolino, a Culinary Arts conservatory director, thinks that a holiday meal “is a chance for [people] to get around a table together [who] maybe haven’t for a long time. I also know that from my perspective, it is a chance for me to share my heart with people that I love through my food.” When asked if he thought his students would be cooking holiday meals for their friends and family he said, “They better be! Each holiday I spend time talking with our students and am always interested in what they are doing for cuisine. I like to know what kind of interesting diverse dishes they are creating, and how much they are helping their moms!” It’s good to know this love language is being taught among students and spoken by many through the medium of food this winter. When asked if he had a sentimental memory of a holiday dish, Striffolino picked Pignolata, a dish from his Italian heritage.
4 cup AP flour
2 oz unsalted butter 1⁄4 tsp salt
1⁄4 tsp cinnamon
1⁄4 tsp nutmeg
1⁄4 tsp Baking powder 1/2 cup sugar
3⁄4 tsp Anisette Honey
Combine all dry ingredients in mixer.
Add softened butter.
Combine eggs and Anisette and add.
Roll strands of dough 1⁄2" thick and cut into 1⁄2" pieces.
Fry in vegetable oil until golden brown.
Place on paper towel to absorb excess oil.
Place in bowl and mix with warm honey.
Place on platter and sprinkle with colored sprinkles.
Ask OCSA: Not-so-Happy Holidays
Watch What Happens OCSA's logo
Courtesy of WWHO
Like, Subscribe, and Watch What Happens
There’s a new TV show on campus, and this time, it’s actually airing! “Watch What Happens OCSA” is a talk-show style YouTube series helmed by Integrated Arts junior Taryn Cohn, that advertises itself as a show about OCSA students, by OCSA students, and for OCSA students. Like OCSA itself, “What What Happens OCSA” (WWHO) prides itself on its inclusivity of artists from every medium by employing students in each conservatory, from Creative Writing to Culinary Arts and Hospitality.
While this webshow might seem like an easy outlet for OCSA students to channel their creativity, a lot of work went into getting administration to approve the project, and an even larger amount of work goes into actually producing the show.
The idea for WWHO came last year from Cohn. “As a YouTuber, I would see different videos made by OCSA students scattered throughout YouTube, so I organized all of the ones I could find into one channel: youtube.com/theocsachannel. I'm always so impressed by all the talent I witness at OCSA, and how students take their talents past OCSA's campus and work in real-world industries. I just like to learn about how they get where they're at,” says Cohn.
This interest, as well as her interest in broadcast journalism, led Cohn to the idea that creating an original show would not only be an opportunity for her to enhance her interviewing skills, but a platform to showcase the skills of her OCSA classmates.
Cohn initially approached the Director of Integrated Arts, Heather Stafford, about the project, where she was encouraged to talk to Teren Shaffer, the Dean of Conservatories, as this was going to be a cross-conservatory show. But meeting with Shaffer was only the beginning. Cohn recalls, “After four months of repeated meetings and revised pitches, I was paired with Sabrina Valles from OCSA's marketing team, and they gave me the green light.”
So what goes into creating an episode of WWHO?
It starts with the writing team, who are tasked with writing scripts, creative contest ideas, and games. According to Junior Mady Park (CW), a member of the WWHO writing staff, “Each episode is written a month or two before it comes out. It starts with the team brainstorming ideas, and then I write the final script. Then I hand it off to Taryn and she makes her final edits.”
While the content is important, there are many people who have an equally important job: making the show look visually appealing. “The film and production crew all work together on filming, sound, lighting, pre-production and post production, and the design team created a versatile set based on our budget and location challenges,” Cohn says.
Other teams involved in the creation of every episode of WWHO are the music team, who collaborate and make original segment songs, the public relations/fundraising team who help to organize, fund, and schedule all of their projects, the social media team, who raise awareness of student projects or independent work and hear the students opinion via Twitter polls (@wwhocsa), and the visual arts team, who plan to start featuring student artwork during interviews and games on the show.
Junior Olivia Rybus (MT), the head of WWHO’s public relations team, says the process of putting together an episode has already improved greatly: “Throughout the process we’ve definitely made the whole experience, as well as the whole setup, more effective.”
All of this work culminates in monthly episodes featuring an interview with an exceptionally talented OCSA student, a teacher challenge, and varying segments such as Culinary Corner which features recipes from Culinary Arts an Hospitality students. Finally, the video is uploaded onto the OCSA Channel on YouTube for the world to enjoy.
Already looking to the future, Cohn is hopeful that the legacy of WWHO “will continue on past the initial team's graduation, since talent just oozes out of this school, and create a time capsule that we can look back on when we all make it.'”
However, WWHO is entirely student-run, and therefore lacks significant funding. So, if you’re interested in supporting WWHO, feel free to donate at www.ocsarts.net/wwho.
Don’t forget to watch what happens this month on Watch What Happens OCSA!
The crew and hosts of Art Attack.
Photo Courtesy of Nick Huntley
Art Attack: Behind the Scenes
For many years, OCSA has been broadcasting an innovative and entertaining program every morning that has graced students of all ages with laughter and informative news. Known as Art Attack, this creative show provides students with important information on upcoming events and performances, as well as a break between classes, which most can agree is well-deserved.
However, the show production is not as calming as the viewing. Hard-working students give it their all everyday in order to broadcast Art Attack, not only because they know how important the show is, but because they enjoy working on the show and making it entertaining to the audience of OCSA students and teachers.
Senior Joaquin Sosa (FTV) says, “I’ve always wanted to be on Art Attack, as well as help people understand what the news of our school is.” Sosa works as the floor director on Art Attack, handling jobs such as greeting the anchors, cueing them on when to start talking and when to stop, and addressing issues regarding the set.
Only one job out of many, each member of the production crew is crucial in making Art Attack great. A few other members include director, Senior Jamie Ostmann (FTV), technical director, Sophomore Isabel Mansour (FTV) and audio director, Senior Jaxon Schriever (FTV).
The students preparation, talent, and determination to make every broadcast successful shows in each episode of Art Attack. Sosa reveals that “there is a lot of preparation that goes into Art Attack. The anchors usually have to coordinate with the producers to make the script, and to find a theme for the show each day.”
Filming Art Attack live is just how one would expect a television program to be filmed: chaotic, exciting and sometimes stressful, but it all works out at the end, leaving the students with a sense of pride and accomplishment that they get to experience every week. The process is unique in that a sense of family can be felt by all the students who work on the show. They all share the same desire to make Art Attack great, as well as the same passion for Film and Television.
Every student who works on Art Attack is from the FTV conservatory, meaning they can practice their talent and improve on their skills, which is greatly beneficial to them in the long run, should they choose to pursue a career in the industry. Even though one must be in FTV in order to work on Art Attack, the opportunity to anchor for the show is always avaliable at the beginning of the year.
OCSA is fortunate enough to have the ability to produce Art Attack every day. Sosa states, “It’s pretty unique, having a broadcast program at a school.” Many schools don’t have the equipment to film a show like Art Attack, so OCSA is truly gifted with the oppurtunity to create such a fun and enjoyable student news program. Life at school would undoubtedly be tough without it.
Photo Courtesy of Cheryl Walsh @alt-senior.com
A Triumph of a Tragedy
Staff Writer, ONLINE EDITOR
A plague curses the country of Thebes. The masses are dying in the streets as King Oedipus and his wife Jocaste, played by seniors Travis Tossey and Madi Bartlett-Black (ACT), overhear the screams outside the walls of their palace. “The Greek Project,” directed by Peter Uribe, sets an unnerving tone for Sophocles’ plays “Oedipus Rex” and “Antigone” by starting with a state of chaos expressed through the actors’ panicked movement and hiding their faces with masks. This scene shocked audiences and haunted the Studio Theater for three weekends of November.
In Aristotle’s Poetics, he cites the story of Oedipus as the perfect tragedy because Oedipus is the agent of his own downfall. Tossey captured the essence of Oedipus and gave a dramatic rendering that brought tears to some of the audience. The entire cast, including the chorus, worked together for months to bring the play to life on OCSA’s campus.
Senior Alyssa Kardos (ACT) “could tell by the performance that the cast was very close. From Oedipus [Tossey] to the ensemble, everyone's commitment and focus were right on.”
The second featured play, “Antigone,” follows the daughters of Oedipus and Jocaste after the events of the previous play and during Creon’s — now played by Richard Kinsey, who teaches MTA Singing/Acting — reign. Antigone, played by sophomore Tessa Taylor (ACT) discovers that her brothers, Eteocles and Polyneices, killed each other in their battle for the throne of Thebes. She buries Polyneices even though it is considered treason towards Creon.
Freshman Christina Jesenski (ACT), who played the blind prophet Teiresias, was ecstatic about her scenes with Kinsey in the second play and felt that she “learned so much from acting alongside a professional like him. The scene goes far below the surface, and the dialogue itself is very complex, metaphorical, and a downright thrill to act.”
The production recieved rave reviews. The Acting Conservatory has the unique ability of showing a depth and maturity in handling darker topics that is not a part of other high schools’ theater programs. Not only is this maturity sparked from its actors, but also from the director. Scenes that some would view as ‘shocking’ for teenagers to engage in on stage were exactly what Uribe encouraged in this production. One of his other students who saw the show, senior Sara Tamadon (ACT), explained, “Uribe’s genius shone through to create an artistic masterpiece that even the biggest theater hater would appreciate.”
Senior Jack Barber (ACT), who played Chorogus in "Antigone", describes the opening scene as “raw” and was excited to “freak the audience out right off the bat.” The rawness of this scene, featuring the ensemble expressing their pain and agony carries throughout both parts of the play in all aspects of the entire story of Thebes.
“A group of women, total strangers, told me that I was their favorite character,” Jesenski said when asked to describe the praise she received for her difficult role. She was glad that the audience members noticed her passion for her character: “the power is in her [Teiresias’] honesty, because the truth that she speaks is so real it haunts people.”
The cast strikes a snazzy pose at the end of the iconic musical number, "Sit Down, You're Rockin the Boat!"
Photo Courtesy of Cheryl Walsh @alt-senior.com
Sit Down, We're Watching the Show
The guys and dolls of Music and Theatre’s “Guys and Dolls” sure know how to rock the boat! This year’s junior-senior musical was certainly one for the books.
“Guys and Dolls” is based on "The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown" and "Blood Pressure,” two short stories by Damon Runyon. This high-energy Broadway classic follows the adventures of two big-time New Jersey gamblers, and the $1000 bet that completely changes the game. Craps games, prayer meetings, and dulce de leche collide together and pull audience members into a whirlwind of action and romance!
Auditions for the production were held during the second week of school, and rehearsals began in early September. While the two-month long rehearsal process was rigorous, cast members look back at it with fondness. “I think my favorite part of the rehearsal process was the cast bonding that happened behind the scenes,” said senior Yasmeen Anand (MT). “The cast was very close because we all got to know each other very well, and we all got along!”
Although “Guys and Dolls” has been deemed a musical theatre “classic,” the MT creative team managed to keep the show fresh and exciting for audiences by adding several unique twists to the OCSA production.
For instance, Director Karen Rymar placed several female cast members in “trouser roles,” or parts in which an actress appears in traditionally male clothing. Four actresses, including senior Carly Perez (MT), who portrayed the notorious and intimidating “Big Julie,” shined onstage as rowdy gamblers; all were practically unrecognizable while sporting wigs, suits, and facial hair.
Additionally, guest choreographer Megan Sheahan worked tirelessly to ensure that the production featured a wide variety of dance genres, ranging from explosive jazz numbers to spicy Cuban-style salsa routines.
Junior Ethan Clayton (MT) was particularly thriled about Sheahan’s choreography. “See, ‘Guys and Dolls’ is almost never a dance show,” remarked Clayton. “We’ve made it such a big dance show, and it’s so fun!”
One factor that differentiated ‘Guys and Dolls’ from past Music and Theatre productions was the utilization of double-casting: the leading roles of Adelaide and Sarah Brown were each split between two actresses.
Seniors Makeala Zeran and Yoomi Kim (MT), “It was such a cool opportunity to have a double because we could learn from each other and experience everything together!”
The show opened on Nov. 3rd and ran for a total of five performances in the Webb Theatre, closing on Nov. 6th. After such a successful run, it’s safe to take a gamble and say that the cast of Guys and Dolls didn’t need luck to roll a perfect 10!
The Integrated Arts cast for "Legally Blonde" preforms.
Photo by Crystal Uribe
This "Blonde" Is Pure Gold: Integrated Arts' Production of "Legally Blonde"
Audience members who filed into Symphony Hall Saturday, November 19 at 2 p.m. were met with one thing: pink. A set of pink doors against a painted pink sunset, all illuminated under bright pink lights. But what else would one expect from “Legally Blonde”?
Integrated Arts’ production of the 2007 musical, based on the 2001 novel by Amanda Brown and the film of the same name, ran the weekend of November 18-20. The IA show sported a stellar cast of 41 students, mesmerizing scenic and costume design by Production and Design teacher Sean McMullen and two adorable dogs as the featured canine characters.
Charna Lopez, the show’s director and choreographer, recently talked about what made “Legally Blonde” unique for those 41 students and the conservatory as a whole.
“We actually decided to go with a more modern production this year,” said Lopez. “We’ve done a few [shows] that were a little modern, but this one is definitely the most modern. So that brings in a lot of different elements.”
Lopez also mentioned how demanding the rehearsal process can be: “[T]hey have to commit. They have to be here quite a bit of time.”
That cast dedication seems to come naturally to senior Paige Mills (IA), who played leading blonde, Elle Woods. “I wanted to audition for ‘Legally Blonde’ because I’ve done the shows for the past four years,” Mills said. “I have such a good time doing the shows...Theater is something that I love doing so much, and doing it in this environment is just great.”
Other members of the cast also expressed their enthusiasm regarding the show and working together. Senior Caitlin Kreditor (IA) was eager to join the cast for the fifth year in a row, saying, “I dance a lot outside of school, and so I like to do something different in school... [M]usical theater is kind of like a little outlet.”
Sophomore and fellow ensemble cast member Hanna Berkompas (IA) echoed the praises of the IA shows. Berkompas has also done the IA musicals in years past and didn’t hesitate to say how much she loves them: “[T]he shows here in Integrated Arts are, really, a lot of fun...The experience is really breath-taking, and I couldn’t imagine not auditioning.”
The overall talent of the cast was evident from the opening number, where the Delta Nu sorority sisters congratulate Elle on her prospective engagement (“Omigod You Guys”). The ensemble’s high energy in the beginning persisted throughout the show. Mills was a powerhouse as Elle, combining the right sweetness and peppiness with intelligence and a wonderful voice that was strong from start to finish.
Despite the decidedly female-dominated production, the show spirit extended to the male cast members as well. “Just because it’s a female [led] show doesn’t mean that I can’t have as much fun,” said sophomore Chris King (IA), who played Emmett Forest in the musical. “Last year, I did my first show with IA, and I just loved it so much that I couldn’t help myself but do it again, and, you know, I couldn’t have made a better decision.”
King brought smarts and sensitivity to the role of Emmett as Elle’s one true friend at Harvard in the face of adversity. Elle also finds a friend in hairstylist Paulette Bounafonte, played by junior Natalie Kiladjian (IA). Kiladjian was fabulously boisterous as Paulette. One of the best parts of the show was Paulette’s solo, “Ireland,” which was a great showcase of Kiladjian’s voice and comedic talent.
The humor of the show also reached a delightful peak in Act Two with “There, Right There.” The number, where Elle’s legal team is trying to determine if a pool boy, Nikos (junior Tofer Medina, IA), is gay or just European, elicited the most laughs from the audience and had the best comedic timing from the whole cast.
In spite of the abundant comedy, the drama was executed just as well. “Legally Blonde,” the only purely dramatic, even somber, tune in the whole musical, was sung with tear-inducing sincerity by Mills and King. Both gave fabulous singing, acting and tender pain as Elle and Emmett.
Even with this solemn interlude, the show still smoothly segued into the jubilant ending numbers, “Legally Blonde Remix” and “Find My Way/Finale.” By the end, a standing ovation was in order, and the audience happily obliged. Overall, the entire cast and crew of “Legally Blonde” delivered a show that left viewers feeling joyful, astounded and tickled pink.