“It’s really hard to pick my favorite show because they are all so fun,” said Ms. Spears while looking at her various show posters around her room. The theatre teacher’s online learning setup is an office with purple walls covered in show posters from every production she has put on at Freeman along with other theatre paraphernalia. It’s hard to pick a favorite when there are 42 shows to choose from!
The theatre department was preparing to put on a production of Into the Woods when the pandemic hit but the show remains one of Ms. Spears’s favorites. “I have to say that I did Into the Woods in 2006 and just loved it as well as Noises Off,” said Ms. Spears.
Noises Off is a play about a group of actors who put on a show together and all of comedic mishaps that happen both onstage and offstage. “The set was so incredible and I had a really good group that year for Noises Off especially because my son was in it,” said Ms. Spears. “The set was almost a character in the play in a way and people would stay during intermission to watch it being changed because it was such an interesting and intense process.” While the set helped make Noises Off a memorable experience, the play’s physical comedy and the actors’ portrayal of the roles really made the show. “It’s such a witty play and just hilarious with people falling down staircases,” said Ms. Spears.
The next show Ms. Spears mentioned was a play called Radium Girls about women working in a watch dial factory that uses radium, which leads to them getting poisoned due to radium exposure. “I really enjoyed Radium Girls because it was such a unique show and it’s not done very often,” said Ms. Spears. “I was so impressed with the kids who had to play multiple different characters. The set was quite complex as well because it involved an actual clock dial.”
“Another fun one was How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying because there were a bunch of big dance numbers. There are numbers with secretaries dancing with rolling chairs while the band plays music to sound like a typewriter,” said Ms. Spears.
It’s hard to talk about the past productions at Freeman and not mention Shakespeare. “Of course I love all Shakespeare. I have done A Midsummer Night’s Dream a couple of times and it is always good,” said Ms. Spears. “Romeo and Juliet was really quite good as well and everyone had to learn how to sword fight so we had to start rehearsals very early on.”
Current Freeman students may have attended The Crucible in the fall of 2019, which is another of Ms. Spears’ favorites. “I have done it three times and we’ve done it different every single time. All of my Abigails were different and all of my Proctors were different because the actors brought different things to it,” said Ms. Spears.
Most musicals that are put on at Freeman only require basic dance abilities, but not 42nd Street. “All the kids had to learn how to tap dance like the leading guys so we had to start rehearsal in September,” said Ms. Spears. This show was unique not only because of the tap dancing but the cast was given the option to perform this at the Carpenter Theatre when it was getting renovated. “We had to move our whole set in a day and then the technical side of the production got to work with professionals,” said Ms. Spears. “It was a really amazing and exciting show especially because the rising curtain meant that the audience got the full effect of the dancing feet in pyramid formation for an unbelievable opening number.”
When discussing unbelievable numbers, “Be Our Guest” from the spring 2019 production of Beauty and the Beast comes to mind with the elaborate dancing kitchen utensils. “Beauty and the Beast was probably the most difficult in terms of costuming because of all of the building that had to be done. I would say it was the biggest accomplishment especially because everyone had certain expectations that we had to live up to because it is such a well known show,” said Ms. Spears.
Unfortunately Ms. Spears cannot put on her usual shows during the pandemic, but her theatre classes are making the best of the situation. “I miss doing the shows,” said Ms. Spears. “I just live for these shows so it’s been hard but I look forward to my classes and I am very proud of my students for adapting so well.”