Behind the Curtain: An Insider’s Look at PACE’s Latest Show

Photos by Hannah Kahn: “The show featured dance, original, student-written plays, and musical productions and was unique for allowing non-PACE students to try out and perform.

The glamour, the costumes, the talent… All of them make up the incredible show that is Performing Arts Festival (PAF.) It consists of many skits, musical pieces, and dances, which are choreographed, composed, written, directed, and/or arranged by juniors and seniors in PACE. Each piece was unique and original in its own way.

To be in PAF, you don’t have to be in PACE, but you do have to audition, which makes the show even more high-quality. The time commitment is not too long at all, only about 2 hours a week for about a month, with 2 dress rehearsals near the end. With such little time to do it all, one might be astounded that the show came together so well. This is a result of the dedication and skill of the performers. Their willingness to work hard within the time limit is what keeps the show going.

However, just because hard work is essential in order to make this performance run smoothly, it doesn’t mean that it’s all work and no play. Each cast (A and B) is like its own family. Rehearsals are never boring if you have your friends there with you. They are also a great way to connect with people you would not have met otherwise. Each person finds his or her own special place within this “family.”Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 2.02.44 PM

Music pieces will normally consist of a small group of singers or a soloist and some form of accompaniment. They can be loud and fun (like Natalie Bunta ’17’s jazz arrangement of “All About That Bass”) to soft and melancholy (like Ali Garfield ’16’s arrangement of “Burning Bridges”). Casey Stern ’17 (a vocalist in Garfield’s arrangement) enjoyed her experience a lot, saying, “PAF really showcased not only the talent of the usual PACE kids, but also the talent of those who haven’t necessarily chosen that path. It was so much fun and such an incredible experience.” The great thing is the variety of voices you will hear, but also the different instrumentalists. Benny Rosenzweig ’18 said of playing saxophone in Bunta and Miles Coplin’s piece, “Playing in PAF was really an amazing experience… It was lots of fun.”

With theater, there’s something for everyone. There were several different themes: lighthearted and funny pieces, a tearjerker here and there, and a sprinkling of dark, meaningful pieces.

Lindsey Belisle ’19, playing Lorraine and Bethany in Jack Boyle’s piece, laughs as she recalls her experiences in PAF. “We continuously had to rehearse the fight scene in the end Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 2.02.50 PMof the piece, and I got hurt a few times,” she said. “Also, it’s exciting to be in the scene and know that there was so much stuff that was altered, ad-libbed, cut and practiced over and over again.” It is a different and challenging experience to completely slip into someone els
e’s shoes for a few minutes, and may
we just say that we think all actors and actresses executed this flawlessly.

Dance is altogether another realm, a sport, but also a piece of artwork. It requires skillful, graceful motion, often in synchrony. This is, of course, extremely difficult. It is then left up to the dancer to create a unique version special to him or her.

Timmy Wilson ’17, who both choreographed a dance and performed in one said, “Being able to both choreograph and be in the show gave me the Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 2.02.55 PMability to see both sides of how a piece is made. I was also able to meet new people by being a part of three pieces.” There was a lot of modern dance, but also some classical pointe involved. The contrast made for a very interesting show.

We also interviewed a few directors about their experiences in PAF. The role of a director is the trickiest but also perhaps the most rewarding, because at the end of the day you can say, “I made that, I did that, I brought these people together.” Sophia Lepore ’16 directed and performed in musical pieces, and gushed, “Directing in PAF is an incredible experience because it lets students be creative and expressive in each and every art form. It’s truly beautiful when everything blends together in the end.”

By Rosa Sofia Kaminski

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