School Life

Behind the Scenes

By: Juliette Levy-Gay (Grade 8) and Tina Qu (Grade 11)

Photos by: Anderson Gao (Grade 8)

At the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee…


Each year, the school drama production is a huge event. From Into the Woods to Auntie Mame, the plays draw vast audiences, including teachers, students, and parents, that gather at the Norman Rothstein Theatre to enjoy the show. This year, the cast and crew outdid themselves with The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. It was hilarious and heartwarming at the same time, and so excellent that many people decided to go a second time. However, all of it didn’t just happen overnight. Months and months of hard work went into preparing for this production, and here is an overview of what went on behind the curtains. 


Past the judges’ table where Rona Lisa Paretti and Douglas Panch sat quizzing speller after speller with words ranging from “cow” to “phylactery,” there’s a whole consort of musical instruments and a long hallway that’s filled with speakers and other sound equipment. Further down that hallway are two small rooms for quick changing, as well as a stairway leading upstairs to the dressing rooms, where the excitement really was. Actors were constantly running back and forth between rooms looking for costumes and getting their makeup done while chatting, laughing, and having a great time. Despite the craziness backstage, we managed to get several members of the cast and crew to say a few words about their experience in the musical. 


Many people started their theatre journey in unexpected ways. Maya Singhal, who played Marcy Park, has been in the school production for five years now. “At the end of grade 7 choir, Mrs. Tovey told us that anyone who wanted to audition for the school play could audition,” she said. “I wasn’t going to do it at first because I had piano lessons, but they were cancelled, so I went. I ended up really liking it and continued throughout my high school years. It’s weird to know that this is my last one and that I’ll be graduating next year!” On the other hand, one of our younger cast members, Elsa Cunnington, was relatively new to being a part of the school production. “I did not think that I would get a part this year. I auditioned because I wanted to show interest, which I figured would help me later on. But I ended up getting a part!” She exclaimed. Elsa was part of the ensemble, and she said that watching the musical during rehearsal made her “laugh and cry at the same time.” 


Members of the musical had to attend multiple rehearsals each week for months, in addition to preparing all of Tech Week for the opening night. Despite the huge time commitment, many members stated that they thoroughly enjoyed the entire process. In fact, Maya’s favourite part was seeing the difference from before and after practicing, since “everyone got a lot better.” Dylan McAllister, who played Leaf Coneybear, said that his favourite part of the rehearsals was “working with the choreographer.” Yet Maya said that “a little behind-the-scenes fact is that we’re all not very good at dancing.” Kaitlyn Nitta, who played Olive Ostrovsky’s mom, agreed but added that “we are all good at TikTok.” 


It was clear that all of the members of the musical got very close after spending so much time together. “My favourite part about being in the school musical is the bonding that happens and the times we all hang out and talk,” said Leah Stevenson, who played Leaf Coneybear’s mom. “We really become a family.” According to Noah Dachner, another member of the ensemble, it was also a great opportunity to work with people from other grades. “We always have lots of fun, and the energy is great,” added Pia Martinez, a makeup artist. “Especially the moment before the opening night when everyone is really excited.”


When asked why people should come out to support the musical, the most common answer was that everyone put a ton of work into it. “A lot of people have helped make this the production that it is,” said Leah. And that was clearly shown through the three amazing performances that were given all three nights. Ultimately, the musical was a huge success, and now we all can’t wait for next year’s production.

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