MONTVILLE, NJ - Theater lovers flocked to Montville Township High School for the annual fall drama production last month. This year, the MTHS Theatre Company brought to life Oscar Wilde’s classic “The Importance of Being Ernest;” a production that proved difficult yet rewarding to all high schoolers.
“It was a delightful challenge,” said senior Jeff Gallup, who played lead character Jack Worthing. “The language can be difficult, but once you figure out the nuances, it is hilarious. I couldn’t more proud of this cast, crew, and production team. This was an incredibly difficult show and we really pulled it off. This is one of those rare shows where, once complete, the feeling of growth and accomplishment is overwhelming.”
Gallup has performed in high school drama during all four of his years, and two years prior to that. He can remember his first ever play being “Merrily We Roll Along” in the third grade, and his favorite role being Lord Farquaad in “Shrek.”
“Ernest” features the Victorian-Era story of British bachelors and best friends Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, who both lead double lives as a man named Ernest. As the play progresses, these alter egos clash with their personal lives and the women they love. What we then see is a comical misadventure that has been interpreted as a hilarious satire of the British high class. A misadventure and satire that senior Lexie Burns, who plays Jack’s love interest Gwendolen Fairfax, felt was not only a big challenge, but one of the best experiences she ever had.
“Gwen is articulate and confident,” said Burns, on her role. “She knows what she wants and dominates in her relationships. It was hard to grow into this, but I was able to become a better actor by being able to push myself and have more of a stage presence. It was an amazing learning experience that bettered me as an actor. To be able to perform with a cast of incredibly talented people and work with a dedicated crew and supportive educators was a pleasure. While the given material was challenging and different from previous years, it was executed with brilliance. Everyone stepped up to create an amazing production and an experience that I will never forget.”
Burns has performed in drama for two years, with roles like Anne in “Death By Chocolate.”
This year’s fall production was directed by MTHS Theatre Company advisors Scott Baird and Kristen Markowski. This production shall mark Baird's sixth year and Markowski's fifth year at the high school.
Other members of the “Ernest” creative team included Brandon Frumolt (scenic design), MaryAnne Hannon (costume design), Kevin Ohlweiler (lighting design), Eileen Racioppi (art director), Daniel Pasquale (sound design) and James McManus (stage crew advisor).
With all these creative minds leading the cast and crew, while sporting accurate-period costumes, British accents, precision and classic English language, Montville High’s performers couldn’t be happier.
“Playing Algernon was a really rewarding experience for me,” said senior Matthew Krase, who played Algernon Moncrieff, the best friend of Jack. “Being in a play was vastly different from being in a musical. With this production, you get out of it exactly what you put into it. With hard work and dedication, I was able to learn the show. The payoff was actually being able to be myself on stage while performing. Given the sophisticated and complex nature of the show, producing the performance we delivered at the 3 show dates required a lot of work. I just want to thank the production staff for making this production something special. It was such an honor to be a part of something great.”
In his years of performing, Krase has played a wide variety of characters, including a gangster in “Drowsy Chaperone,” Pinocchio in “Shrek,” Leaf Coneybear in “Spelling Bee,” James in “James and the Giant Peach” and Sir Evelyn Oakleigh in “Anything Goes.”
Krase wasn’t the only student who felt it was an honor to be in this fall drama. For sophomore Adyna Silverberg, who played Cecily, the love interest of Algernon, “Ernest” was a great start for this year’s high school drama.
“Overall, ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ was just a great experience,” said Silverberg, who is only in her second year of high school drama and also sings for Broadway Night events. “Not only am I extremely grateful for this awesome experience, I’m beyond thankful for having such a wonderful, supportive, and talented cast to do it with. This show wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Mrs. Markowski and Mr. Baird. I’m so lucky that I got the chance of being in such a fabulous production.”
And for three nights, where more than 100 people attended each production, everyone had the chance to see such gifted talent and laugh at the results of Jack and Algernon’s antics.
“The level of commitment and talent in this town is amazing,” said Jennifer Iaci, whose son Jack played one of the servants. “That goes for the students and the advisors. Jack himself makes a big impact with his comical timing.”
For their spring musical production, the MTHS Theatre Company intends to bring “The Addams Family” to their community! Show times will be 7:30 p.m., on March 5 - 7, as well at 2 p.m., on March 8.
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