Mark Twain Middle School thespians spent the weekend entertaining crowds of classmates, parents, siblings and members of the community. Sunday marked the final performance of their two, short plays, Final Dress Rehearsal and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs of the Black Forest.
Director Sara Joy Lebowitz directed 39 students in both shows. Final Dress Rehearsal is a comic “play within a play” about students muddling their way through a rough production of Cinderella. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs of the Black Forest is a funny take on the age old tale that includes dwarfs named Echo Echo and Little Banjo, a royal monarch named King Absent Minded and the charming Prince Goodhearted.
“I tried to pick something that will resonate with the elementary school students and get them excited about drama,” said Lebowitz.
The productions were both cast from auditions and some students who tried out were not offered a role. Lebowitz did provide every student with an envelope containing a decision letter and feedback and encouraged each of them to try out again in the future.
The students have been rehearsing since January and are completely responsible for the show’s production. Students do their own hair and makeup, many kids assembled their own costumes, students run the lights and audio for each performance and Allie Harris, an eighth grader, served as stage manager.
“I like the backstage aspect because you can watch the show and say, ‘that was my idea,’” Harris said.
Lebowitz said all the kids’ hard work has helped them be better-rounded at school.
“It helps them in all their other classes. They learn time management, it’s incredible,” Lebowitz said.
Their devotion to the productions showed on stage. In Final Dress Rehearsal, Marcia Cunning played the ‘show inside a show’s’ frustrated director to perfection and Katie Kolo was charming and slightly goofy as Cinderella. In Snow White Sara Meyer was lovely in the title role and Katie Wattendorf played the villainous Queen Bella with well-executed intensity, despite her petite stature.
Wattendorf has appeared in productions outside of school and says; there’s simply no business like show business.
“You get to meet a lot of new people who become a second family,” Wattendrof said. “The bonds you make with the cast aren’t like other bonds.”
Because students put on plays this year, next year, Mark Twain will produce a musical. Lebowitz alternates years so students will get a chance to explore both types of theater.