When imagining princesses, people don’t typically picture a materialistic Cinderella, an exercise obsessed Sleeping Beauty or a Rapunzel trained in martial arts. But typical perceptions of everyone’s favorite fairy tales will be shattered in the upcoming Broken Box play, Chasing Charming. The play revolves around six princesses teaming up to save the prince from the clutches of Hagragard, the evil witch and her rag-tag team of minions.
As the play draws ever closer to the opening night on November 21, the members of Broken Box are hard at work polishing their performances. It’s a process that is expected to take about eight weeks, consisting of staging, rehearsing lines and figuring out props and costumes.
The inception of the play started in May when Chasing Charming was chosen by Broken Box advisor and director Nancy Moran with the consent of the students in Broken Box. As per tradition, the first play was chosen in part for its comedic nature.
“I always like to open with a comedy because it brings the group together,” Moran said. “I find that comedy just makes it easier for the kids to bond.”
Moran set about casting roles for the production late in September of this school year. The cast auditioned with a monologue of their choice or a scene featuring the character they wanted to be for that show.
“It’s all about making sure that everyone feels included,” senior Amanda Choy said.
Bonding among the members and adjusting to the new group dynamics is especially critical in the first play of the year as the Broken Box members move forward with rehearsals. As they practice for the show during their sixth period class, students use the moments they’re not on stage practicing to get to know and help each other.
“The first show you always just want to help the new people know ‘Hey, this is what happens’ and so from there on the second and third show is a fun time,” Amanda Choy said.
Cast members aren’t the only ones who take the time to bond and provide aid for one another. Among the actors are the tech crew who do a variety of tasks like sound and music, makeup, props and costumes.
“We choose costumes from old ones or we’ll go out and rent them or we buy them,” Amanda Choy said. “We make sure that they’ll fit the actors properly. When we bring the whole [costume] cart over to the theatre for our shows we have to make sure that everyone knows where and what their stuff is. Sometimes we’ll be standing backstage helping people with clothing for fast costume changes.”
In something like Broken Box where everything can quickly get out of hand, strong support from everyone is key. Part of this support system is the tradition of “crowning” a queen and king of Broken Box. The title of queen and king is passed down to two rising seniors that the previous year’s royalty thinks have shown an ability to connect to others easily and are able to handle a lot of responsibilities and stress. This year’s queen and king are Amanda Choy and Terence Rabuzzi.
“I’m just making sure that we have order in the family of chaos,” Amanda Choy said.
The students of Broken Box appreciate having a good queen and king to keep them organized and productive.
“Basically without them we’d have no show,” senior Amanda Shantz said.
The support that the queen and king offer is especially appreciated as “Tech Week”—the three nights before the play when students do full dress rehearsals at the Eagle Theatre for five hours—descends upon them.
“We run through the show and through all the technical stuff,” junior Meredith Soward said. “Who’s going to bring chairs on? Who’s going to move set pieces? It’s the point where all the show comes together and everyone is off book and we’re figuring things out. So it’s intense but it’s a really good bonding experience.”
It is during this intense part of the production process when tempers can start to flare and the stress begins to take its toll on everyone, not just the inexperienced newcomers. Both Moran and the students are conscious of this and thus try to keep the atmosphere light.
“During Tech Week, especially, we always have a little bit of time where we can let loose,” Moran said. “We try to eat dinner together. They’re allowed to do their homework together when they’re not on stage…I try to make sure that they’re still getting their studies done.”
Despite the heightened emotions during this time period, members know that they must speak honestly about whatever issues they are having so that the play can continue on smoothly.
“When it’s a small problem, solve it,” Amanda Shantz said. “Talk about it, make sure everyone knows how everyone else is feeling. Otherwise it’s clique-y and it’s not fun. [If we don’t stay positive,] people aren’t working together well and it’s more about talking behind people’s back than actually helping each other.”
It is once Tech Week evolves into the actual three performances that the members reap the benefits of their efforts. For Amanda Shantz, this reward is the love of the craft itself.
“It’s not all bad,” she said. “It’s really fun usually. I love doing it so I don’t mind the extra work that comes with it.”
For others, the moment that reminds them that the whole experience was well worth it comes when the curtains open for the first time and the cast and tech crew know they were able to come together to give an excellent performance.
“It’s just that feeling of pride [that motivates me],” Amanda Choy said. “Especially after the shows when people are congratulating you and you hear compliments from other people to your fellow Broken Box members. It just feels so good to know that you were a part of making that come together.”
As the advisor to such a group, Moran views their accomplishments differently. She believes that the true reward is seeing everyone in Broken Box become much more like a family then they were at the beginning of their production process.
“I think once they see how they all fit together, that’s the beauty of it,” Moran said. “I just hope that they all experience that realization that they are all just as strong and just as good as previous Broken Box years.”
Opening night for Chasing Charming is on Thursday, November 21 with two more performances on the following Friday and Saturday.