Want to see one last play at Howell High School before the year is over? Then head over to the drama room next week to see the Advanced Drama class perform the play “Check Please.”
This play is the advanced drama students’ final assignment. The play follows a boy and a girl each going on a series of bad and awkward dates until they realize that they are meant to be with each other. Senior Alison Wiercioch, a student in Advanced Drama, doesn’t want to give away too much information though.
“You’ll have to come see it. It’s a surprise,” says Wiercioch.
Each student has an equal role in the production. The class is working very hard given the fact that they have a very short amount of time to rehearse.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for the students to showcase what they’ve learned over the year,” says Advanced Drama teacher, Ms. Amanda Malo.
The play will be performed in the drama room, K-5, May 7 and 8 at 7:00 pm. Tickets are $5.00 at the door.
“I’m very excited for it. I think it’s going to be hilarious… and I think everyone should come see it,” says Advanced Drama student Samantha Coy, a senior.
On Tuesday, March 26 and Wednesday, March 27, the student directed play, Almost Maine, will be held on the K-5 stage at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the door for five dollars.
The play is based entirely in the town, Almost, Maine. It centers around eight different characters, four boys and four girls. Each actor plays two roles. The play is set in a series of vignettes, each with a different plot, from two friends falling in love to a couple splitting up. There are eight in total and they all relate to one theme.
“It’s all about love,” says senior Matt Cain. “It goes through every stage of love. Something magical happens in each scene.”
Cain is the director of the play along with senior Madison Miller, who came up with the idea to do the play. This is going to be the first play she directs.
“We really wanted to broaden our horizon,” Miller says.
She talked to Ms. Amanda Malo, the drama teacher, and then it took place. Auditions were held in December and were open to all students. It wasn’t required for students to be in drama. In fact, this is the first play for many of the actors. Being the directors, Cain and Madison had the task of choosing who would be in it.
The reason behind doing Almost Maine was simple; they wanted to introduce a different kind of play. There is no main character in this play. Rather, in each scene it zooms in on a few characters per scene.
“I think something we really focus on in it is character-building,” says Miller.
Miller and Cain each have the opportunity to direct four scenes each. Miller directs the more dramatic scenes and Cain does the comical ones. Every so often, they collaborate and see how the play is coming together. Even though they are the sole directors of the play, they still have some help from Ms. Malo, who sometimes watches over and gives them advice.
“I am very proud of Madison and Matt,” Ms. Malo says. “They have worked very hard overall and have a terrific show.”
Overall, Miller and Cain say that the best part about this show is all the friendships they have formed. Not only that, but they love the idea that they are giving the actors their time to shine and make them feel special.
“Come see the show,” Cain says. “You’d be very impressed.”
From the time children speak their first words to the time they receive their diplomas, family, friends, and teachers continuously and redundantly ask the thought provoking question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Many simply do not know the answer until college, while others may know from the very beginning. Howell High School senior Alison Wiercioch knew what she wanted to be since second grade when she first discovered the world of theatre.
“Being in my first play was the turning point for me and I knew that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” Wiercioch said.
It turns out Wiercioch’s first production in elementary school is also going to be her last at HHS. She got cast as the youngest sister Bielke in Fiddler on the Roof at the Community Theatre of Howell, and is now mother Golde in the upcoming HHS production of the show.
“When I found out Ms. Malo [drama teacher and director] was doing Fiddler, I knew I was auditioning for this because it’s my play, it’s my heart,” she said while sitting in the drama room at the school.
Getting the lead role of Golde was an unexpected pleasure for Wiercioch, but is not her first lead role. She has previously played Mary Hatch Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, Bonnie Jean in Brigadoon, and Babette the Featherduster in Beauty and the Beast.
This aspiring young actress has auditioned for Western Michigan University, plus a few out of state schools such as New York and Chicago, to pursue her major in theatre. Her number one choice is NYU and wishes to attend their Performing Arts program, Tisch: School of the Arts.
“It’s always been my dream since I was little,” she said “I’m crossing my fingers to get in. I find out April first.”
Afterwards, she sets herself up for high standards to be on famous stages like Broadway or big screen movies, which are played around the world. Despite her excitement for her future, she concludes there will be tears when having to leave her past.
“My mom, Ms. Malo and I talk about this [Wiercioch's graudation] all the time and my mom’s going to have to rip me away from this classroom and this stage because this is where everything started from me,” she said, having an abundance of bitter-sweet feelings. “I have met a lot of friends and Ms. Malo has been over-the-top great for me and helped me with whatever I needed.”
When she is not acting, the talented student still takes the stage as a singer. She takes part in choir and Classicality. Although her favorite thing to do is spend time with her friends and family.
“I love to sing, but I love my family to death. My family is just the thing for me,” she said. “They and my friends are there with me through every play and it’s really nice to have that support system.”
After everything she has done, she would like to gives thanks to Ms. Malo for being the “best director ever,” her parents, her little sister, and everybody that is there to support her, especially Adam Sciberras.
“Theatre is my home, it’s my baby, and I love it,” she said with a warm smile. “I just hope that everybody else can feel that when I walk on the stage.”
The musical Fiddler on the Roof will be performed by talented Howell High School students March 8, 9, and 10 in the high school auditorium. The ticket cost will be $7 for students and seniors and $9 for adults ahead of time with a $1 extra charge for tickets purchased at the door.
This play is based from a book of short stories of Teveye, the main character. It is the story of a mild man, Teveye, with five daughters. He was a man who was a strong believer in keeping tradition, and in this story his daughters fall in love with men who proceed to challenge his ideas of tradition.
“This musical offers so many different things,” said Ms. Amanda Malo, the director of the play. “Beautiful singing, the dancing is great, it’s about families, and it has a heavy message.”
The HHS drama department will be presenting Fiddler on the Roof on March 8, 9 and 10. This performance will be including theater students as well as the band students. All of the music needed for this play will be performed by the pit orchestra. The 17 musical students either volunteered or were recruited. Band teacher, Mr. Jason Smigell, is the music director of the play.
“The pit is a very taxing job for students,” Smigell says.
The music the pit will be performing is the same music performed by professionals so the students must work very hard to get the music right. “The musical is a challenge because it is so long. It is probably the longest concert they will ever do unless they play another pit,” Smigell says.
The students are the only ones playing in the pit besides Mrs. Diane Ives, the piano accompanier. “We wouldn’t be able to do it without her,” Smigell says.
The first piece the pit will be playing is the song “Tradition”, which most agree is the hardest piece out of the whole musical. “It freaked us out at first,” Smigell says.
Cameron Pratt is a senior at HHS and trombone player in the pit. “This is my second pit. I was in Brigadoon last year,” Pratt says. Pratt really enjoys when his hard work is worth it. “The performance is the best part. It’s really nice to see our hard work pay off,” Pratt says.
Charley Garlock, a sophomore and flute player in pit, also played in Brigadoon last year and Fiddler will be her second pit. Unlike others in the pit Garlock will be switching instruments. “I switch instruments from the flute to the piccolo,” Garlock says.
Garlock is also the youngest player on first part. “I am the only sophomore on first part and I’ve been on it for two years,” Garlocks says. Garlock has been in band for five years now and plans to keep up her band career for the future.
Mr. Smigell is really proud of all his students in pit. “The kids in pit are very serious and highly motivated students,” Smigell says.
Renee Augustyn, a senior at HHS, is very excited for the pit. “We’re anxious to see how it turns out,” Augustyn says. Augustyn really likes the environment that pit has and how friendly everyone is. She also likes the play compared to some of the musicals last year. “Fiddler is more ethnically diverse than Brigadoon,” Augustyn says.
Everyone involved in the Fiddler pit is eager to perform after all of their hard work and dedication. Any musical put on at HHS needs both the acting talent as well as the musical talent to make every musical successful. Although the audience cannot see the pit during the performance it’s essential to realize the importance of the pit to the play and all of the students’ hard work.
“I’m very grateful to be able to work in the pit the second year in a row, and I am determined to be in the pit the rest of my high school career,” Garlock says.
Disney Princess films have given hope to many children since 1937 by filling their hearts with dreams and magic. That magic has found its way into the Community Theatre of Howell, where a talented junior cast performed the legendary musical, The Little Mermaid Jr. Ariel is the hero of this fantasy, but what is a hero without a villain? Junior Tori Poloski was ecstatic to get in touch with her own diabolical side by playing the evil sea witch, Ursula.
Poloski has been involved in theatre for six years, and coincidently has been in six shows. Her journey started with Thoroughly Modern Millie, then Oklahoma, and Once Upon a Mattress. Her most recent productions were Howell High School’s Beauty and the Beast and It’s a Wonderful Life. Within the Freshman Campus on December 6, 7, 8, and 9, the talented actress and singer entertained an ocean of audiences while experiencing the art she loves.
“I love theatre because that’s where I feel accepted,” Poloski said. “I wanted to be in this because it’s one of my favorite Disney movie productions of all time. I wanted to be Ariel at first, but after being in the show I’m so unbelievably happy to have been Ursula. It was so, so much fun to be evil.”
This production was Poloski’s very first lead, so she needed to prepare herself. To make sure her performance was most enchanting, she got the pleasure of spending time with her assistant director, and close friend, Ms. Ann O’Reilly.
“I hung out with my assistant director (I call her ‘My Evil Coach’) and watched the movie with her to get ready,” Poloski stated. “Meeting Ms. O’Reilly was the best part of the whole thing.”
Her boss was not the only person Poloski warmed up to when she was working. The 16-year-old teenager learned what it takes to do business with the ultimate divas – children.
“I had a love and hate relationship working with so many small kids. I wasn’t that patient at the beginning, but they made pictures of Ursula for me all the time,” she said. “After it is all said and done, I miss all my little cast mates.”
The courageous student was actually rehearsing for It’s a Wonderful Life and The Little Mermaid Jr. during the same time period. She also manages to take on many advanced classes and extracurricular activities during her daily schedule, such as Highlander Choral, Classicality, and Acapella. There was no doubt she was incredibly stressed knowing how much was on her plate. Despite the nervous, tense feelings, she took a breath and did not let anything stop her from pursuing her interests.
“I don’t regret being in two shows at once at all!” She exclaimed. “It exhausted me, but that’s okay. I like being stressed…sometimes.”
If she ever has free time on her hands, Poloski creates a different type of art with photography. She claims she will not be doing another show for a while, but will combine her skills with the student directed production Almost, Maine.
“I’m super excited to help because I’m doing photography for (the show)! Also, it’s in the drama room,” Poloski explains. “I think of the drama room as a second home. The atmosphere is comforting to me.”
This bright and spirited young adult is not so evil after all. Her time to shine with The Little Mermaid Jr. was just a small piece of her life. She made it clear she loves everything about the performing arts but, surprisingly, being an actress or singer is not in her plans. She is currently thinking about becoming some type of psychologist. As for everything else, she leaves that plan to fate.
“My dream and main goal in life is to have a family and be happy with whatever I choose to do,” Poloski ended with a hopeful smile.
On Monday, November 19 there will be an informational meeting after school in K-5 regarding play auditions for the musical Fiddler on the Roof and the student written play Almost Maine.
During this meeting, students will learn about the auditions and also receive audition pieces.
The meeting isn’t required, so students who cannot make it and still want to audition should talk to drama teacher Ms. Amanda Malo to get the information.
On November 26 songs for Fiddler will be taught in room K-26 and taught by Mr. Bushey. On this same day, non-singing male auditions will take place.
Auditions for The Fiddler on the Roof take place November 27 in the auditorium. Auditions for Almost Maine will also be in the school auditorium on December 4.
The famous Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, will be appearing at Howell High School on November 16 and 17 at 7 p.m., and November 18 at 2 p.m. This certain production is not only unique because it is fully presented in black and white, but also because the student who plays Harry Bailey wears a very honorable uniform during the final scene.
The director of the show, Mrs. Amanda Malo, has a uniform that belonged to her grandfather, Robert W. Pringle, M.D., who was a naval reserve officer from 1943 to 1978.
“The way I look at it is it is a way to honor my Grandfather,” Mrs. Malo proudly says. “I believe he had a wonderful life. He was a hero.”
Malo’s grandfather was on active duty in 1944 and 1945, providing medical care to a Marine division in California as it prepared to invade Japan. Recalled to active duty in 1952, Dr. Pringle served as physician to Greek, Turkish, and Ethiopian troops on an attack transport, both on the ship and in Korea. He always said that caring for the Ethiopians—young peasant boys, who had never laid eyes a doctor—was the most meaningful experience of his career.
For that work, Dr. Pringle received a decoration from Haile Selassie, emperor of Ethiopia.
“My uncle said, ‘Dad really loved the adventure of the Navy. The service was an important point of reference for Dad, helping him to better understand what was right and wrong. I think it made him a better doctor and father.’ Big thanks to my father, Bruce Pringle, for lending his father’s uniform to our production.”
Harry Bailey is called a “hero,” a term that applies to all our service men and women. “By having our fictional hero wear the uniform worn of a real hero, his granddaughter honors him,” Mrs. Malo shares.
For senior Matt Cain, wearing the uniform helps to bring the character of Harry to life for him.
“I am honored, it’s really cool,” Matt Cain says. “When I found out I was going to be wearing a real, especially hers, a real uniform, it makes me feel like I am actually in the part, instead of being in some kind of Halloween costume.”
On Saturday, October 27, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., drama students from Howell High School rode a bus to Eastern Michigan University for the full day event, Drama Day. Forty students attended the event.
Drama Day is a day dedicated towards letting high school students visit EMU. There the students will attend three of EMU’s drama workshops, get a tour of a portion of the area, and enjoy a production the college students perform. This year the play was The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare.
Ms. Amanda Malo, drama teacher at HHS, has taught for 11 years and has taken students to this exciting and educational trip every year. She recommends everyone to go, even if they are not in drama.
“It is a lot of fun,” says Mrs. Malo. “They get to meet students from other schools and learn how to act with people they don’t necessarily know. For those who are involved, I think it really sharpens their skills.”
The following workshops were offered: Auditions and Monologues, Musical Theatre Performance, Advanced Acting, Improvisation, Movement for the Actor, Forensics Style Performance, Musical Theatre Dance, Shakespeare Performance, Stage Combat, Dialects, Beginning Acting, Directing for the Stage, Make-Up, Costume Basics, Lighting in Focus, Sound Effects, Props, and Stage Manager’s Boot Camp.
Teachers could take Teachers’ Roundtable, where drama teachers discuss their classes. Likewise every year the workshops are essentially the same, but there is always a new play and different experience for everyone.
“I think next fall, whether or not they are in drama, students should try to swing by and go with us. It’s affordable and a lot of fun,” says Ms. Malo.
Junior Tiara Kopins, who has been involved in drama since eighth grade, attended Drama Day for the first time this year. She has done hair and make-up for past plays at HHS, and has high hopes that this event will benefit her acting.
“I want to keep helping with hair and make-up, but this year I want to be onstage too,” says Kopins. “I like to act.”
Throughout all the years Ms. Malo has attended, this year was particularly important for her. Her favorite part was seeing her alumni in the play and how much they all have grown.
“Usually I go to a teacher round table, but this time I had two alumni teaching classes this year so I took their class to be a proud, former teacher. Having seen them grow and get to that college level was really, really exciting for me,” says Ms. Malo.
Kopins’ favorite part was the dance class because she now carries more knowledge with her about what to put into the show.
“I learned a lot about what happens backstage and acting. There are actually rules to it instead of just doing it. I encourage everyone to take drama classes just because I think it’s really fun and it’s a great way to open up,” says Kopins. “It’s a class everyone should take in high school.”
From acting to singing, senior Austin Schippers has a strong passion to fulfill his dream of making it on Broadway.
“I’ve always been a very loud and talkative person. Incorporating that into theater and music was a good way to make my true personality show,” says Schippers.
Relating to the love of some of his favorite movies, he idolizes two certain actors: Neil Patrick Harris and Joseph Gordon Levitt. He admires both their humor and acting skills.
Schippers is a returning student in the Advanced Drama program, taught by Ms. Amanda Malo. He is enrolled in an independent study course in which he assists Malo in teaching a Drama I class. Also, Drama as Literature is another class Schippers is involved with, where he reads about different plays and writes responses.
“I love working with Austin,” says Malo. “He is kind young man who works very hard. He never hesitates to jump in there and help other students. He realizes the importance of teamwork and is always supportive of everyone in our cast.”
Since a very young age, Schippers has been involved with theater. He has performed in multiple plays, such as The Three Musketeers, Beauty and the Beast, and Flowers for Algernon. He previously held a lead role in two plays including Thoroughly Modern Millie, A Mid-Summer’s Dream, and the lead role in the upcoming play It’s a Wonderful Life, playing George Bailey.
“George Bailey is described as an ‘everyman’. He is someone that people can relate to. I believe that Austin has that trait as well. In his interactions with other students and actors, I have noticed that everyone feels comfortable with him and trusts him,” adds Malo.
It’s a Wonderful Life premieres on November 16 at HHS.
“I feel that I can connect to the character of George Bailey very well. I really enjoy the plot and the message the story gives. The experience of playing a lead character can help me prepare for college,” states Schippers.
Along with his active life in theater, he participates in choir. “Ever since I was really little, I loved to sing. The first time I joined an actual choir group was my freshman year,” Schippers mentions.
After joining his freshman year, he recognized his love for singing and chose to stay involved. Currently he is in the a Capella, the Highlander Chorale, the men’s group, and Calamity.
Aside from the busy life of theater, he plays on the Howell boys varsity tennis team. He holds a four year varsity title.
Presently, he lives at home with his mom and dad. He has an older sister who attends Spring Arbor University as a current sophomore.
“I am the very first of the Schippers to be involved with theater!” adds Schippers.
He plans on attending Grand Valley State University next year. He anticipates on minoring in theater, and has another idea in mind for his future.
“My dream is to make it on Broadway. Although I think the most realistic thing for me to do is pursue theater throughout college. When I’m older, I intend to become actively involved in a community theater and potentially run my own.”
With a motive like his, it looks like Schippers is well on his way to success.