An Evening of One-Acts: Student directors enjoy the spotlight this weekend at RHS

The Visual and Performing Arts Department of Ridgefield High School presents An Evening of One-Acts, opening Jan. 26 at 7:30 p.m. in the high school’s Black Box Theatre, with additional shows on Jan. 27 and Feb. 2-3. The plays are Postcards by Carol K. Mack, Ladies in Waiting by Michele Palermo, and The Most Massive Woman Wins by Madeleine George. Each show features women at critical moments in their lives.

The three plays are directed by students in the Advanced Acting class of RHS theatre teacher and director Sherry Cox. Jillian O’Keefe, Emily Parker, and Evan Smolin, all juniors, have been immersed in every aspect of directing, with Mrs. Cox guiding them through selecting the show, casting, staging, costuming, lighting and sound. All have acted in RHS productions and understand the demands of acting, but agree that directing has given them more insight into the job of the actor, what the audience sees, and how complicated it is to build a show.

The evening begins with Postcards, the story of three women vacationing at a beach resort, directed by Emily Parker. When she found Postcards, Ms. Parker knew she had a show that would make an impact. Candid about the challenges student directors face in trying to direct their peers and friends, and in translating ideas to paper and stage, Ms. Parker says it was “truly breathtaking to see the play run through for the first time a few weeks ago,” and that the best moments came from seeing how much work her cast had put into the production. “I can see how important it is to work off other actors, and how each part of a show matters,” she says.

Ladies in Waiting, directed by Evan Smolin, takes place in the moments before a wedding when a secret could destroy the friendships of a bride and her attendants. “I was attracted to the idea of capturing an instant in time, that single moment when you find out what friends are for,” says Smolin. “At first, the show seems like light banter among friends. The challenge was to capture the deeper layers of conversation through lighting, sound, set, costumes, blocking and character. When those aspects come together and create a picture for the audience, when you see how the actors interpret the text and their characters, it’s a thrill.”

The third play of the evening is The Most Massive Woman Wins, directed by Ms. O’Keefe. Strong women characters and message, humor and high drama attracted her to a “captivating” story of women confronting body image issues at a liposuction clinic. “I knew it would be a challenge,” she says, speaking of the uncertainty in every decision a first-time director makes. “Luckily, I had the reassurance and support of my cast and of my teacher, Mrs. Cox. I absolutely love directing. I find it to be incredibly exciting, fun and rewarding.”

Performing in the shows are Callie Amill, Eleanor Andresen, Lucy Basile, Stephanie Coraci, Hannah Jay, Ana Kowalczyk, Kyra Linekin, Caroline Malley, Kaitlyn Mitchell, Lane Murdock, Ryan Pratt, and Sophia Smith. Luela Alexander is the swing. Working tech are DJ Ammirato, Dennis Dowding and Emma Jaeger on lights, and Donata Libonati and RJ Carey on sound. RJ Carey designed the show poster.

An Evening of One-Acts will have four performances in the RHS Black Box Theatre at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 26 and 27, and Feb. 2 and 3. The snow date for all performances is Feb. 4 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 and will be sold at the door. Ridgefield seniors who have a Gold Card may enjoy one show for free, but must have the Gold Card with them for admission.

This article was submitted to The Press by the Ridgefield High School Theatre Boosters Club.