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Poland students to showcase writing, directing, acting, singing skills during March 30 performance

March 26, 2019

Three Poland Drama Club students pose together in the hallway

From left: Poland seniors Savannah Neal, Sarah Ahles and Dominic Altamura Jr. pose for a photo on Friday, March 22, in the school hallway. Neal and Ahles will be directing one-act plays during the Poland Drama Club’s Student Showcase III on Saturday, March 30, and Altamura wrote the script for the play Ahles is directing.

POLAND – Two Poland Central School District Drama Club members will be directing one-act plays, one of which is an adaptation written by another Poland student, during the upcoming Student Showcase III.

There also will be a “Disney Sing-Along Concert” – featuring students performing about 15 Disney songs. The singers will decide what else happens on stage during their performance.

Drama Club members are excited that the event is featuring students writing, directing, acting and singing.

“It’s unique and amazing if you think about it,” Drama Club member Sarah Ahles said.

The “Disney Sing-Along Concert” will start at 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 30, in the Walker Auditorium at the school and is targeted more toward children. After an intermission, the two one-act plays, which are themed more for adults, will start at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets to the singalong portion and one-act play portion of the show will be $3 each at the door or $5 for both parts.

The student directors are responsible for selecting the plays, casting, lighting, obtaining props, scheduling rehearsals and all other aspects of directing. Poland Drama Club co-advisor Mike Gagnon supervises, helps with props and offers tips.

‘Not My Cup of Tea’

Poland senior Savannah Neal will be directing and acting in “Not My Cup of Tea,” which is a play about a mother trying to take down her two daughters, who are also going after her.

The other actors are Poland senior Madison Muller and junior Emily Walther.

“Getting to work with them is amazing,” Neal said.

Neal described her show as a comedy despite the dark storyline. The way the play’s story unfolds is one thing that made her want to direct it, she said.

“It definitely has a twist to it,” she said. “You expect one ending, and you get a completely different one.”

Neal said she appreciates that the Student Showcase allows students to direct their own one-act plays.

“I’m glad I get to do it and be a part of it,” she said.

‘Oh, Hello at the Walker Aud’

Ahles will be directing “Oh, Hello at the Walker Aud,” which was written by Poland senior Dominic Altamura Jr. as an adaptation of the Netflix special, “Oh, Hello on Broadway.” The Netflix special was a filming of the “Oh, Hello” comedy show on Broadway. Altamura and Poland sophomore Calvin Jantz are the two actors in the play.

Altamura said he watched the Netflix special and then re-watched it and started thinking how it would make a great one-act play. He then watched it more times to figure out the structure and write a script to adapt it to a one-act play.

Ahles said Altamura’s idea of writing the play for presentation through school started off as kind of a joke, until she saw the script.

“I read it, and I thought, ‘I want to be a part of this,’” she said.

The story is about two old men who never made it as actors and get on each other’s nerves, the students said.

“It’s a mockery of plays too,” Ahles said.

Ahles and Altamura said they are still making changes to the play as they go to make sure they are adjusting the jokes to a school setting. The two joked about how Altamura is insisting the play include at least one tuna sandwich because it carries over from the Netflix special, and Altamura believes tuna sandwiches represent the characters due to both being unappealing yet enjoyed.

“I’m proud of it so far,” Altamura said. “You wouldn’t be able to do something like this in a bigger school I think.”

Altamura said the performance is more like a comedy sketch than a typical play.

“Forget about your problems for 40 minutes,” he said.

Ahles said she prefers directing comedies, as she did at last year’s Student Showcase.

“Comedy is just different,” she said.

‘Disney Sing-Along Concert’

The “Disney Sing-Along Concert” will feature hero and villain songs, as well as songs about life and other topics, the students said.

“Hopefully, we’re going to get a lot of crowd reaction,” Ahles said.

At Neal’s suggestion, the concert is going to open with “Be Our Guest” from “Beauty and the Beast” to welcome attendees. Neal and Ahles are also going to perform songs during the concert. Neal is still deciding on her song, and Ahles is going to sing “The Bare Necessities” from “The Jungle Book.”

The concert portion is opened up to the full cast of the Poland Drama Club, and backstage members were asked to help with production, Ahles said.

“We’ve got amazing talent here,” she said.

Students who are singing get to choose the setup and action that will be taking place around them, Ahles said.

“It’s kind of an introduction to doing a one-act,” she said.

The concert’s lighthearted songs will provide the evening with a sense of variety, Ahles said.

“It kind of counters the dark side of our one-acts.”

The students are especially enthusiastic about singing Disney songs because they are taking a Drama Club trip to Disney World in Florida from May 9-12 and will be participating in drama-related workshops.

“It gets us even more excited I think,” Neal said, referring to the concert.

Altamura said he wasn’t very into Disney movies growing up, but he was into “Star Wars,” which is now part of Disney, so he’s interested to see what the parks have to offer. He has never been to Disney World before.

“I don’t know what to expect,” he said.

Ahles said knowing the Disney trip is coming up is bittersweet because it means graduation and the end of high school are on the horizon, but she can’t wait to see other students going to Disney for the first time and some students getting their first experience flying on an airplane.

“I’m excited for stuff like that more than I am the rides and workshops,” she said. “I think it’s just going to be an amazing experience.”