Sophomore Peter Davis, Junior Lindsey Davis and Junior Alex Goodrich play the roles of three characters stuck in a complicated affair. PHOTO CREDIT: Bianca Vaneri
Nicolas Demba, Liam Nagle and Oliver Loree perform in “I Saw it Coming.” PHOTO CREDIT: Bianca Vaneri

Pace Academy campus came alive on the nights of Jan. 28 and 29, as a lively audience showed up to watch a staple of the Upper School drama department: the Winter Showcase. Rather than experiencing just one play or musical, attendees witnessed the production played out in the Fine Arts Center as individual snapshots, four distinct scenes, all student-directed, two of which were student-written. 

This event was a standout display of Pace performing arts talent, complete with comedy, tragedy, and introspective works. Addressing anything from the illusion of choice to the long sought after question: what did the conversation between Adam and Eve look like after being kicked out of paradise? Complete with an 100% vaccinated cast and a hybrid of live performances and pre-recorded scenes projected on stage, the night guaranteed a safe and entertaining production as well as an opportunity for the performers to prepare for a live audience. With the Georgia Thespian Conference in Columbus, GA next month, the cast was given the chance to present student-directed work where the actors were passionate and involved in their subject matter before refocusing to the traditional play format. 

This production was certainly a night to remember, kicking off with a speech by director of fine arts, Sean Bryan, who expressed his pride in the participants. “This truly is a student-driven showcase. They took on a huge amount of responsibility, between organizing a matrix of rehearsal schedules and taking the creative directions of each scene into in their own hands.”  Months in the making, these two nights were composed of late night rehearsals and long hours of preparation. Bryan summarized it best in his opening speech: “Tonight, it’s not about the presentation, it’s about the journey.”

Senior Rebecca Kann was the first director of the evening, and with three years of showcase directing experience, she chose to take a different direction than the conventional live performance this year. “I decided I wanted to do a film, and I stumbled across a fascinating script called ‘Original Relocation,’ written by Jack Berry.” With the help of her co-director senior Ryan Varma, who filmed and edited the clips, this short movie hilariously hypothesized the scene between Adam and Eve after the Garden of Eden. With junior Chris Mason playing the role of an irritated Adam, and senior Caroline Brown as the defensive Eve, this piece was packed full of sarcastic comments and witty dialogue. The blooper reel, titled “Man and Woman trying things for the first time,” completed the movie just as comically. Clips of Chastain park dog-walkers interacting with the costumed actors and the biblical characters attempting to take on the monkey bars had the audience doubling over in laughter. 

The second scene, drafted from the play “Present Laughter,” starred junior Alex Goodrich, skillfully playing the role of an exasperated actor, struggling in an attempt to find some peace and quiet and convince the people around him that he isn’t always acting. Senior Nikki Byrne directed this piece, while offering a look into the central character in her introduction speech. “All he wants is to be left alone, and lucky for him, he is leaving the next morning to go on tour in Africa, where he can finally hope to be freed from all the crazy people here at home.” This scene was played out with a beautiful set that transported the audience, and the cast was otherworldly. Sophomore Jackson Allegra’s role, in particular, provided passionate outbursts and his amusing and almost lunatic character was a standout performance.

One of the most widely acclaimed highlights of the night was senior Mollie Meyerowitz’s original written piece, “I Saw it Coming.” Meyerowitz spent her summer composing and pondering thoughts which inspired her work, “What are our dreams trying to tell us? Are they manifestations of our hopes, our desires, our fears? Could they be fragmented memories of the past, or maybe a glimpse into the future.” A distinct break from the previous more lighthearted pieces, this heart wrenching play allowed the attendees to bear witness to junior Oliver Loree’s full potential as an actor. The audience saw Loree reliving the car crash that fatalized his parents, drifting in and out of consciousness, interacting with mysterious characters and finally discovering the power he holds to turn back the clock  The choice which Loree’s character executed in the final minutes of the show was punctuated by its anguished effect on the other characters, and forced the audience to face the question of what they would have done in the same position. Traipsing between hospital beds and mysterious street names, as well as the main character’s lifetime, this striking piece demonstrated the power which a student-written work such as Meyerowitz’,  could hold.

To close off the night, senior Jayla Wideman presented “Agape.” Exploring the nature of platonic versus romantic relationships through the famous Achilles and Patroclus, this piece used an ancient example to express a timeless message. Wideman’s direction and script provided touching entertainment, and she expressed her gratitude to the actors who made her vision come to life, “The heart and the vision and the love which they’ve put into this show is what really made this piece. I am so excited to have such an amazing cast and be able to fondly show the product of all our hard work.” Juniors Lucy Bybee and Kabir Singh’s debate acted as a narration for the scene displayed, and their dialogue provided a guide for the audience to truly understand the meaning of love in its purest form.

As the entire cast pulled back the curtains for their final bows, they were greeted with overwhelming applause, as friends, family and theater fanatics alike cheered them on. Outstanding participation, free tickets and heartwarming performances: the 2022 winter showcase was a spectacular success.

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