Hawthorne, NJ - This weekend, the drama department of Hawthorne High School presented a production of Arthur Miller's 1953 McCarthyist critique, "The Crucible."  Snow caused a cancelation on Saturday but "the show must go on" and it certainly did.  While "The Crucible" took a number of historical liberties, the parallels between the Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692, which saw 19 accused witches hanged and one, Giles Corey, pressed to death with rocks, with the House Un-American Activities Committee led by Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy, are bold.  A tale of paranoia, fear, arrogance, and divided loyalties between the truth and self-preservation, "The Crucible" remains a chilling example of two particular instances in American history in which hysteria ran roughshod over rationality.  The lesson, of course, remains to this day and Miller's play stands as a warning to future audiences to remain vigilant.

The Puritan-era colony of Massachusetts Bay was brought to life on stage once again thanks to the talent of drama department staff Kimberly Griffin and Marchelle Roniet, who directed and produced the play.

The costuming and scenery were convincing, essential for a quality historical piece.  The use of new, sophisticated audio headsets, public address system, and good lighting demonstrated a high degree of attention to detail and professionalism given by the students and faculty, a sign of the high school's ever-advancing theater work over the years since the department's revival just over a decade ago.

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A tour de force of acting by Hawthorne's young aspiring thespians was delivered, particularly by Hawthorne High senior Bilal Meshanni who played the protagonist, John Proctor.  Abigail Williams, played by senior Krista Kedl, had committed an act of adultery with John Proctor, a married man at odds with Salem's new minister, Reverend Samuel Parris, played by junior Chris Branagh.  Reverend Parris's daughter Betty, played by sophomore Kyleigh Rica, falsely claims to be afflicted by witchcraft.  Williams uses the growing hysteria of witchcraft, in which the fears of the population reach deadly consequence, to try to eliminate Elizabeth Proctor and have John for her own.  Emotive, driven, Meshanni conveyed a man torn between his past sin which would ruin him, and his commitment to the preservation of truth and the need to protect his wife, Elizabeth, played by junior Alexa Gassler.  Self-preservation instincts, uncertainty, and a blanket of terror plunge the colonial settlement into fear and regret, all successfully delivered by the students and staff of Hawthorne High School.

Cast (In Order of Appearance)

Reverend Samuel Parris - Chris Branagh

Betty Parris - Kyleigh Rica

Tituba - Victoria Vargas

Abigail Williams - Krista Kedl

Susanna Walcott - Jenna Ventrice

Ann Putnam - Dani Bonafede

Thomas Putnam - Matt Michalski

Mercy Lewis - Jacquelyn Hampson

Mary Warren - Gennesy Cintron

John Proctor - Bilal Meshanni

Rebecca Nurse - Victoria Jungermann

Giles Corey - Luis Mendoza

Reverend John Hale - Nick Manzi

Elizabeth Proctor - Alexa Gassler

Francis Nurse - Nick Sokolofsky

Ezekiel Cheever - Ezekiel Somma

John Willard - Ethan Alfonso

Hopkins - Evan Clancy

Willard’s Deputies - Alex Nadirashvili & Michael Rica

Martha Corey - Caitlin Carone

Judge Hathorne - Joshua Kobuskie

Deputy-Governor Danforth - Alex Di Filippo

Abigail’s Friends - Emily Armstrong, Teuta Hida, Lila Kawash, Kylie Sciarra, & Hayley Vandermast

Sarah Good - Chasidee Lopez

Student Crew Managers

Aimee Alvino, Amelia Biedrzycki, Dakota Brantner, Mckenzie Brevet, Aidan Hallquist, Kaitlyn Melendez, Patrick Moorhouse, Geena Occhipinti, Lauren Rivera, Heather Scott, Miriam Sokolska, Gabby Van Sickell, & Carly Weinstein

Stage Crew

Maria Angeles, Melanie Ballinas, Denise Blacido, Melanie Blacido, Anthony Bertollo, Natalie Branwell, Samantha Brown, Sam Caso, Emma Fernandez, Tom Gallo, Emily Garvie, Ximena Gonzalez, Paige Grenier, Sonia Hadjmustafa, Katrina Kimberlin, Nick Lehr, Jamie Lessner, Molly Mateus, Kasey Mendez, Gianna Mina, Gianna Molina, Julien Molina, Nicole Navarro, James Ng, Andrea Oliver, John Parcells, Melanie Parcells, Vanessa Peña, Michael Ptak, Brian Reilly, Emily Romero, Jenna Samiz, Camryn Sweisberger, Louis Torres, & Emma Wolf