Jupiter High’s theatre group to perform first program of school year

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Jupiter High School’s theatre program will perform its first show of the year, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” on April 22 in the school’s auditorium. Other showings will take place on April 23-24, April 30 and May 1.

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is a musical comedy about six quirky middle school students competing in a spelling bee that runs one hour and 40 minutes.

“There’s a lot of energy in [the show] and it’s a very comedic show and I absolutely love it,” Alissa Cohen, a junior and the student director of the play, said.

Cohen found interest in this piece because the script is interchangeable, so she was able to modernize some of the lines and put in a few political jokes.

“For anyone who comes, I hope you don’t get offended too easily,” Cohen said. 

The original piece included volunteers in the audience and actors running down the aisles. Cohen has altered these scenes to accommodate COVID-19 regulations.

“I do not want to deal with COVID[-19] like at all,” Cohen said, “I have had to damper choreography a bit, and I think there’s only one time in the show I’m allowing someone to go down the aisle.”

Cohen also has required cast members to wear masks and be six feet apart as much as possible. According to Cohen, the masks have created some tech issues.

“Even without masks, [the actors] have to enunciate more and speak loudly so the audience can hear and the masks just make [the actors] sound more quiet,” Cohen said.

Gabriella Fleury, a junior who’s playing the role of Marcy Park, has also noticed issues with masks.

“It’s challenging to portray the characters with a mask covering half your face because you can’t really show your emotions,” Fleury said.

Carlyn Serpone, a senior and dance captain who’s playing the role of Ronalisa Peretti, agrees the masks make performances hard, but also views the COVID-19 precautions as an accurate representation for the play’s setting.

“Since the play does take place in a school, we’re able to follow all the guidelines [an actual] school would take [without it looking out of place],“ Serpone said. “So we have our students like spread out on stage, people wearing masks, you know, like how a [real] school would require.” 

There are 14 cast members and six tech members who have been rehearsing for two hours every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Serpone has noticed more kids interested in the behind-the-scenes aspects of the play compared to past years.

“In the past we always had not enough kids for the behind-the-scenes, so it’s awesome that we have a lot of more kids interested in tech,” Serpone said.

Unlike past years, the cast has rehearsal in the auditorium once a week instead of having all three rehearsals there. The other two rehearsals take place in the choir room, which is a limited space, so the cast can only learn choreography on the days they’re in the auditorium; Cohen has seen no issue with this change.

“Somehow these kids blow me away every single rehearsal,” Cohen said. “They’re able to learn like two three songs where the choreography in a single rehearsal which is highly impressive considering that some of it is pretty complex.”

According to Serpone, the best way to support the production is to come see the show. Tickets are $10 for students K-12 and $15 for adults, and they will be sold closer to the date of the performance.