North High students prepare for first in-person theater show in two years

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Jasper Hustler rehearses a scene for the upcoming NAHS performance of “Clue” on Nov. 19 and 20. Masks are required for all cast members, and so rely on voice projection and exaggerated gestures to connect with the audience. Staff Photo/Max Bowen
Jacob Leighton attempts to solve the murder during a rehearsal for the upcoming NAHS show “Clue,” which will take place on Nov. 19 and 20. Staff Photo/Max Bowen

By Max Bowen-max.bowen@northstarreporter.com

Elliot Winship said that joining the theater provided a sense of community for the first time, and after more than a year without in-person performances, everyone is happy to be back.

On Nov. 19, North Attleborough High’s theater will once again be a place of stories come to life as “Clue” takes the stage. An adaptation of the 1985 film—which is itself based on the popular board game—guests at a dinner need to solve a murder-mystery as one after another, they meet their end. The story is energetic, fast-paced, and the comedy sharp, all delivered with skill and precision by the student cast.

Winship described the story as “brutally self-aware” and that it plays out well. There are no small roles, and even those with limited stage time made it unique. Jacob Leighton said those can sometimes be the most memorable.

It’s so fun to see a little back-and-forth,” he said.

Once the pandemic began, events such as plays had be put on hold. Instead of a fall and spring show, the drama students performed a one-act show via Zoom. When asked about being back on stage, the cast was quick and excited to share their thoughts. Nicole Donato said they all breathed a sigh of relief after learning they could put on a show with an audience.

All of us are so, so grateful for it,” she said.

Masks are required of all performers, as well as the audience, and this presents a challenge. Tori Grieve said it makes it harder to convey emotions and get across what they’re expressing. Mia Gomes said talking louder is a must, and the cast gestures more fiercely. Jasper Hustler feels that everyone accomplished this well.

I think we made up for the fact that we can’t express ourselves fully,” said Hustler.

The seven cast members interact well together, showing little effects of the months spent off-stage. Donato said the intense roles are an advantage for them, since all the exaggeration helps connect with the audience. Terrence Fevrier and Dylan Pizura agreed that everyone fits their role perfectly. Leighton said that being able to play a complete stranger so well shows one’s talent.

It shows how good you are,” said Leighton.

Gomes agreed, saying they meld as a cast and that each role is flamboyant or bold in its own way. She describes her part as “French maid satire,” with an outlandish accent for effect. She credited the extras, who play multiple roles but add distinctive elements to each.

They’re easy to tell apart,” said Gomes.

Alexandra Nikou said that being back on stage meant some things had to be re-learned, as the online performance didn’t have the same aspects of an in-person one. She said as rehearsals went on that people’s confidence grew. Leighton added that facing the audience was something that took awhile to remember. Aayush Adak added that one challenge was remembering to putting their all into the roles.

You forget how trying it is to put so much energy into this,” he said.

The cast credited English Teacher Jillian Gabriel, who also leads the theater shows. They said that Gabriel was great at finding the perfect role for each one of them. Gabriel said she looked for character in the cast and an ability to project well. Over the summer some theater groups held outdoor performances, which gave the students the chance to hone their skills before the fall show.

They would do anything to act again,” she said. “The energy is great.”

Many of the students talked about the friends they made doing shows. Gomes was walking out of a Debate Club meeting when someone she suggested she act. For her first time onstage, Gomes really enjoyed the experience and is proud of what she’s done. Hustler debated auditioning, but said it was the best decision ever made.

I’m glad I met all these people,” said Hustler.

Sarah Flaherty described the group as very welcoming. Nikou said she had forgotten what it was like to have cast-mates after so long and is happy to have that connection again. Winship began auditioning for any role after joining the group.

I don’t want to lose this,” said Winship. “I’m happy where I landed.”