Songs for a New World

The Phillips Academy Department of Theatre and Dance is proud to present our Spring Musical production, Songs for a New World. This musical by Jason Robert was originally conceived as a song cycle without any dialogue between performers. It was scored for only four actors that tell multiple stories within the show. Every story hinges upon a “moment of decision.” The composer himself writes: “It’s about one moment. It’s about hitting the wall and having to make a choice, or take a stand, or turn around and go back.” 

Producing a show known for its vocal demands is not an easy task, but these students challenged themselves in ways that made them better artists! Seeing as how we wanted to continue our own artistic challenge (and it was impossible to only decide on four actors!) we have decided to approach the material in a new way. This production takes place in modern day New York City, with the help of four storytellers, who invite us into the lives of eight city-goers. These eight young people find themselves in different stages of their lives where they have to make a decision: to move to a new city, to come to terms with their dreams and careers, to accept love, or to find themselves. Every song reveals the moment of decision for each character and expresses the outcome of their choices. Filled with moments of self-discovery and youthful indiscretion, Songs for A New World promises to make you laugh, cry, and celebrate the magic of musical theatre.

Performances will be held Friday, May 17that 7:30pm and Saturday, May 18that 6:30pm in Tang Theatre. The cast and crew of Songs for a New World includes Marianne Bautista ’20, Henry Crater ’20, Jack Curtin ’19, Chi Igbokwe ’21, Adaeze Izuegbunam ’20, Jenni Lawson ’19, Jonathan Lin ’19, Quintin Moss ’21, Jeffrey Steele ’20, Denise Taveras ’21, Chloe Webster ’20, and Sam Wright ‘19. Songs for a New World is stage managed by Zakeiya Yusuf ‘21, features original costume designs by Ellie Dixon, lighting designs by guest artist Matthew Breton, and sound designs by faculty member, Brad Seymour. 

Performances of Songs for a New World are Friday, May 17that 7:30pm and Saturday, May 18that 6:30pm in Tang Theatre. Admission is $5 each and may be reserved through the PA box office at 978-749-4433. Box Office hours are Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 12:00pm to 3pm and Tuesdays from 10am to 12:00pm. For more information, please visit the arts page at www.andover.edu/arts.

ADG Larks & Leaves

This will be a memorable show –  Andover Dance Group’s Spring performance of Larks & Leaves.  Learn more about the performance here.  Thank you to Dance Captains Yishu Chen and Michelle Jeon for leading this group throughout the year, and Yishu Chen and Emily Jackson for heading up our dance board.  It has been an amazing year of growth!

She Kills Monsters

The Phillips Academy Department of Theatre and Dance is proud to present our Winter Theatre Production, She Kills Monsters. This play by Qui Nguyen tells a story of grief, family, and identity. The sisterhood of Agnes and Tilly was never simple, nor close, and when Agnes stumbles upon Tilly’s Dungeon and Dragons notebook, she begins to realize just how little she knew about her own sister. Agnes sets off on an adventurous journey through the role-playing world, determined to find out who Tilly really was. Nguyen mixes the fantastical elements involved with D&D with moments of youthful indiscretions and self-discovery, accompanied by a chorus of misfit teenagers, Chuck, Kaliope, and Lilith, who battle magical creatures in this quirky coming of age story. 

What would be a game of Dungeon and Dragons, without battling monsters? This physically demanding production calls for actors to be prepared at all times for battle sequences and intense fight choreography. The ensemble members, who portray monsters, rely on percussive movements and full body engagement to embody the different monsters encountered in the D&D journey. The ones who have the literal weapons are equipped with sword fighting movements and handling of the weapons. These actors are sensitive to time and speed and use these elements to create moments of battle.

It is no surprise that this show is action packed with adventure and fantasy, but what one might not expect is the tender, honest, and impactful moments of the show. This story is not just about monsters, dungeon masters, and sword fighting, but a story about two sisters finding their way back to each other. Agnes and Tilly did not have the picture perfect sister relationship. It is not until Tilly has died that Agnes realizes just how much of Tilly’s life she was missing. What becomes the most moving part of this play is the fact that although Agnes will never have Tilly back in her life, she will remember her through this game. D&D becomes less about the battles and more about the strength of love and family. 

The cast and crew of She Kills Monsters includes TJ Briggs ’22, Emma Brown ’19, Luis Placido Geronimo ’20, Martina Gil-Diaz ’21, Karen (Samantha) Guzman ’22, Jada Li ’19, Sunny Li ’22, Victoria McGloughlin ’19, Emily Michaels ’19, Quintin Moss ’21, Isatys Perez ’21, Isadora Poros ’21, Rhea Prem ’19, Kiran Ramratnam ’22, Case Rosenfelt ’22, Elliot Rossman ’22, Niara Urquhart ’21, Ria Vieira ’19, Sam Wright ’19. She Kills Monsters is stage managed by Sam Katz ’19, assistant stage managed by Celeste Robinson ’22, assistant directed by Isatys Perez ’21, and features original costume designs by Ian Hurley ’19, lighting designs by Myles Ringel ’21, and sound designs by Kabir Nagral ’19. 

Performances of She Kills Monsters are Friday, February 22 at 6:30 p.m., Saturday, February 23 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, February 24 at 1 p.m. in Tang Theatre. Tickets are $5 each and may be reserved through the PA box office at 978-749-4433.  

Dance Open

These fabulous posters created by this year’s student director Uanne Chang feature the co-heads of all the Andover dance teams.  Footnotes for the tappers – Blue Strut for jazz – Hypnotiq for Hip-hop – Fusion for Afro-Carribean – and Footsteps for Asian Fusion. Alums – if you want to write any history to these groups, please do so in the comments!  Come see these dancers perform along with many stunning solo, duet and group pieces of student choreography, this weekend in Steinbach Theatre.

Goodbye (for now) to Tai

This week in the dance studios we said “goodbye for now” to Tai Jiminez.  Tai has been working with our students in ballet technique since 2010.  The end of her final class turned into a spontaneous talk about her career as a dancer with Dance Theatre of Harlem, Boston Ballet, and her more recent calling to start dancing with her own movement vocabulary.  As she leaves us to work more with her students at Boston Conservatory, Tai shared valuable words of wisdom for our students.  The two areas of advice that stood out to me were “find ways to incorporate mindfulness practices for self care daily” and “if you need to dance to live, then dance,” or paraphrasing: “if dance is your calling, then do it – listen to your own inner voice.”  The students sitting in that circle on the floor with Tai will never forget her generosity in that quiet thoughtful sharing. We will miss her so, so much, until the time when she comes back into our studios!

Never a dull moment goes by in Theatre & Dance.  This week we had our first checkpoint for our favorite dance event, the “Dance Open”, this year directed by upper Uanne Chang.  In the Tang we are completely transforming the space for our winter term production “She Kills Monsters” directed by faculty members Allen Grimm and Libby Jancsy, set by Brad Seymour and lights and costumes by Billy Murray. Also pictured, Tim Duffy at work in our scene shop.

 

 

 

New Improved “Tea”

This year’s Nutcracker includes new choreography from Estelle Zhu PA’20 for the Tea variation in Act II.  Estelle, who is highly trained in traditional Chinese Dance, worked with dancers Claire Song and Candy, while Samantha Lee used her expertise in rhythmic gymnastics to improve upon our ribbon choreography!  Here is a preview of the work in the studio.  

Inspired

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I can only imagine that when I am looking back as my time as chair of the Department of Theatre & Dance – our recent production of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf will stand out as a high water mark.  This was an outstanding collaboration from directors Allen Grimm and Linda Carter-Griffith, set designer Jake Josef with lights and costumes by Billy Murray.  I have never seen an ensemble cast more committed to a project. The student actors and technicians made this script come alive in such an impactful way. I look at this photo of the cast with such admiration. To mark the passing of the playwright, attached is an article of “seven flames” kindled – I am pretty sure there are many, many more flames out there ignited by Ntozake Shange work.